United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Richmond Division
MICHELLE C. WHITTINGHAM, et al., Plaintiffs,
BLUEVINE CAPITAL, INC., et al., Defendants.
A. GIBNEY, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter comes before the Court on the plaintiffs' motions
for default judgment and permanent injunction against the
defendant Ram Capital Funding, LLC
("Ram"). The plaintiffs filed their complaint on
October 26, 2017, and served Ram on November 6, 2017. Ram did
not respond. In their complaint, the plaintiffs assert three
counts: (1) declaratory judgment, (2) injunctive relief, and
(3) negligence. The Clerk entered default on January 3,
2018, and the plaintiffs moved for default judgment and a
permanent injunction on August 15, 2018.
plaintiffs seek a judgment declaring that a contract that
Ricketa Reed-Harrington, their former employee, fraudulently
executed with Ram (the "Ram Agreement") is void.
Under Rule 55(b), when a defendant defaults, he admits the
well-pleaded factual allegations in the complaint.
Fed.R.Civ.P. 55(b). Thus, in reviewing a motion for default
judgment, courts accept plaintiffs' well-pleaded
allegations regarding liability as true. Ryan v.
Homecomings Fin. Network, 253 F.3d 778, 780 (4th Cir.
2001). Courts must then determine whether the allegations
support the relief sought. Id. Because the defendant
defaulted when it failed to respond, the Court accepts the
plaintiffs' well-pleaded allegations regarding their
request for a declaratory judgment.
Declaratory Judgment Act gives courts the discretion to
"declare the rights and other legal relations of any
interested party seeking a declaration." 28 U.S.C.
§ 2201(a). For a court to issue a declaratory judgment,
"it must appear that there is an actual controversy
between the parties." See Tiger Fibers, LLC v. Aspen
Specialty Ins. Co., 594 F.Supp.2d 630, 653 (E.D. Va.
2009). "An actual controversy must be one that is
justiciable, meaning a controversy in which there are
specific adverse claims, based upon present rather than
future or speculative facts that are ripe for judicial
case, the plaintiffs have alleged "specific adverse
claims" against Ram. Tiger Fibers, 594
F.Supp.2d at 653. The plaintiffs allege that the Ram
Agreement is unenforceable because the parties did not
mutually assent to the Ram Agreement. For an agreement to be
enforceable, the parties must mutually assent to its terms.
See Cyberlock Consulting, Inc. v. Info. Experts,
Inc., 939 F.Supp.2d 572, 578 (E.D. Va. 2013). The
plaintiffs assert that no mutual assent exists in this case
because Reed-Harrington fraudulently entered into the Ram
Agreement without their knowledge. The Court accepts the
plaintiffs' allegations as true. See Ryan, 253
F.3d at 780. Accordingly, the Court will declare the Ram
Agreement void and unenforceable.
plaintiffs seek a permanent injunction prohibiting the
defendant from enforcing the Ram Agreement. See Toolchex,
Inc. v. Trainor, No. 3:08-cv-236, 2009 WL 2244486, at *2
(E.D. Va. July 24, 2009). Plaintiffs seeking a permanent
injunction must establish (1) the remedies available at law,
such as monetary damages, are inadequate compensation for the
injury suffered; (2) the movant suffered irreparable harm;
(3) the balance of equities tips in the movant's favor;
and (4) the injunction is in the public interest. eBay,
Inc. v. MercExchange, LLC, 547 U.S. 388, 391 (2006).
plaintiffs have established the requirements for a permanent
injunction. First, monetary damages are inadequate
compensation because Ram could try to enforce the Ram
Agreement at any time. Second, the plaintiffs would suffer
irreparable harm in the absence of an injunction because
enforcement of the Ram Agreement would damage the
plaintiffs' "financial stability, reputation and
creditworthiness." (Compl. If 86.)
respect to the third factor, courts must weigh the effects on
each party of granting or withholding the requested relief.
Winter v. Nat. Res. Def. Council, Inc., 555 U.S. 7,
24 (2008). This entails balancing the harm the movant
established under the second factor, with any harm the
non-movant would suffer if the court granted the injunction.
Manning v. Hunt, 119 F.3d 254, 263 (4th Cir. 1997).
The harm to the plaintiffs outweighs any harm to Ram. The
plaintiffs never authorized Reed-Harrington to execute the
Ram Agreement and had no knowledge of the agreement.
Moreover, Ram executed the Ram Agreement with Reed-Harrington
without verifying her identity. Finally, an injunction serves
the public interest because it deters lenders from collecting
on fraudulently executed contracts. The Court, therefore,
will grant the plaintiffs' motion for a permanent
ATTORNEYS' FEES AND COSTS
plaintiffs' motion for default judgment, they ask the
Court to award "reasonable attorneys' fees and
costs." (Mot. Default J., at 3.) The plaintiffs,
however, do not state the amount of attorneys' fees or
provide any documentation to support their request.
Rule of Civil Procedure 54 requires that "request[s] for
attorney's fees  be made by motion." Fed.R.Civ.P.
54(d)(2)(A). Movants must also "state the amount sought
or provide a fair estimate of it." Fed.R.Civ.P.
54(d)(2)(B)(iii). Here, the plaintiffs "failed to make a
proper plea for attorney's fees." See Havemann
v. Colvin,537 Fed.Appx. 142, 149 (4th Cir. 2013). The
plaintiffs state that they seek reasonable attorneys'
fees and costs, but do not state the amount they seek or
provide a fair estimate of it. Because the plaintiffs
"failed to ...