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Coastal Sunbelt Produce, LLC v. Saldivar and Associates, Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Alexandria Division

September 1, 2016

COASTAL SUNBELT PRODUCE, LLC, Plaintiff,
v.
SALDIVAR AND ASSOCIATES, INC., et al., Defendants.

          Coastal Sunbelt Produce, LLC, Plaintiff, represented by Blake Alan Surbey, McCarron & Diess.

          Coastal Sunbelt Produce, LLC, Plaintiff, represented by Mary Jean Fassett, McCarron & Diess.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          THERESA CARROLL BUCHANAN, Magistrate Judge.

         This matter comes before the Court on plaintiff's Motion for Entry of Default Judgment. (Dkt. 12.) After a representative for defendants failed to respond to plaintiff's Motion or to appear at the hearing before Judge Anderson on July 15, 2016, the undersigned took plaintiff's Motion under advisement.[1]

         I. INTRODUCTION

         A. Background

         Plaintiff Coastal Sunbelt Produce, LLC, a Maryland corporation with its principal place of business in Maryland, is a buyer and seller of wholesale quantities of interstate produce. (Compl. ¶ 3.) Defendant Saldivar & Associates, Inc., doing business as R&R Catering ("R&R"), is a Virginia corporation with its principal place of business in Virginia that purchases wholesale quantities of interstate produce. (Id. at ¶ 4.) Defendants Robert P. Saldivar ("Mr. Saldivar") and Michelle M. Bloxton ("Ms. Bloxton") (collectively "the individual defendants") are and were shareholders, officers, and/or directors of R&R. (Id.)

         Between October 16, 2015, and December 19, 2015, plaintiff sold and delivered wholesale quantities of produce and other goods, which had been shipped or moved in interstate commerce or in contemplation thereof, to defendants. (Id. at ¶ 6.) Defendants accepted these goods but have not paid for them. (Id. at ¶¶ 6-7.) Consequently, on April, 22, 2016, plaintiff filed this action under Section 5 of the Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act ("PACA"), 7 U.S.C. § 499e, to obtain declaratory relief and enforce the trust provision of the PACA. (Id. at ¶¶ 1, 5.) Plaintiff also sought to enforce its contract with R&R and the Personal Guaranty signed by Mr. Saldivar and Ms. Bloxton. (Id. at ¶¶ 15-16, 32-35.) Plaintiff now seeks its damages, interest thereon, and attorneys' fees and costs. (Mot. Default J. 1-2.)

         B. Jurisdiction and Venue

         Before the Court can render default judgment, it must have both subject matter and personal jurisdiction over the defaulting party.

         This Court has subject matter jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331, which provides that district courts shall have original jurisdiction over all civil actions arising under the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States. Plaintiff's federal claims arise under the Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act, 7 U.S.C. § 499a et seq. (Compl. ¶ 1.) Further, this Court has supplemental jurisdiction over plaintiff's state law claims for breach of contract pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1367 because they form part of the same case or controversy and share a common nucleus of operative facts with plaintiff's federal law claims. Therefore, federal question jurisdiction exists.

         This Court has personal jurisdiction over defendants because defendant R&R is a Virginia corporation and defendants Robert Saldivar and Michelle Bloxton are residents of Virginia. (Compl. 1-2.) Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1391(b), venue is proper in this judicial district because all defendants are residents of Virginia and defendant R&R is located in this district. (Compl. ¶¶ 2, 4.)

         C. Service of Process

         As a general rule, a defendant must be served with the summons and complaint filed with the court. Fed.R.Civ.P. 4. On May 2, 2016, plaintiff's private process server served defendant Michelle Bloxton by leaving a copy of the Summons and Complaint at her residence with her son, Connor Bloxton, a person of suitable age and discretion who resides there. (Dkt. 4.) On May 4, 2016, plaintiff's private process server personally served defendant Robert Saldivar with a copy of the Summons and Complaint. (Id.) Mr. Saldivar, who is the Registered Agent of defendant R&R and is designated by law to accept service of process for the corporation, also accepted service of process on behalf of R&R. (Id.) Therefore, service was proper under Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 4(e) and 4(h).

         D. Grounds for Default Judgment

         Rule 55 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides for entry of default judgment when "a party against whom a judgment for affirmative relief is sought has failed to plead or otherwise defend." Fed.R.Civ.P. 55(a). Defendants have not appeared, answered, or otherwise filed any responsive pleadings in this case. On May 26, 2016, the Clerk of this Court entered default as to defendant Michelle Bloxton pursuant to plaintiff's Request for Entry of Default and Rule 55(a). (Dkt. 9.) Similarly, on May 27, 2016, the Clerk of this Court entered default as to defendants R&R and Robert Saldivar. (Dkt. 11.) On June 16, 2016, plaintiff filed a Motion for Entry of Default Judgment. (Dkt. 12.) Judge Anderson held a hearing on plaintiff's Motion on July 15, 2016, at which no representative for defendants appeared. (Dkt. 16.) Finding this matter uncontested, the undersigned took plaintiff's Motion under advisement to issue this Report and Recommendation.

         II. FINDINGS OF FACT

         Based upon a full review of the pleadings and the record in this case, the undersigned Magistrate Judge finds that plaintiff has established the following facts.

         Plaintiff Coastal Sunbelt Produce, LLC, is a Maryland corporation with its principal place of business in Maryland.[2] (Compl. ¶ 3; Wright Decl. ¶ 4.) Defendant Saldivar & Associates, Inc., doing business as R&R Catering ("R&R"), is a Virginia corporation with its principal place of business in Springfield, Virginia. (Compl. ¶ 4; Wright Decl. ¶ 6.) Defendants Mr. Saldivar and Ms. Bloxton are and were shareholders, officers, ...


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