United States District Court, W.D. Virginia, Roanoke Division
Elizabeth K. Dillon, United States District Judge
before the court is a motion for default judgment filed by
plaintiff Hudson Insurance Company. (Dkt. No. 11.) For the
reasons set forth herein, the motion will be GRANTED.
complaint against Joseph Waylon Millard, Hudson Insurance
Company seeks a declaratory judgment that it has no
obligation to provide occupational accident insurance
benefits to Millard under the relevant insurance policy.
Hudson alleges that there is an actual controversy between
the parties because Millard has demanded coverage under the
policy. Millard's claim for benefits arose from an
incident that occurred while he was making deliveries for
Fleetgistics Holdings, Inc., a participating motor carrier
under the occupational accident policy issued by Hudson.
avers that although Millard qualifies as insured under the
policy, his claim for benefits fails because his injuries
were the result of his aggression in a fight, not an
accident, he was on a personal deviation when the incident
occurred, and the policy excludes coverage for injuries
resulting from the commission or attempted commission of a
felony or illegal activity. Hudson also asserts that the
policy is void as related to this incident because Millard
made misrepresentations to Hudson in the claims process.
Thus, Hudson seeks a declaration that its policy does not
provide coverage to Millard with regard to this incident.
(Dkt. No. 1.)
was properly served in this case, but he has not appeared or
filed any documents. (Dkt. No. 8.) The Clerk entered default
against Millard, and Hudson now moves for entry of default
judgment. (Dkt. Nos. 10, 11.)
55(a) allows entry of default by the clerk, which has already
occurred here, and Rule 55(b) governs requests for default
judgment. The court may grant a default judgment against a
defendant who has been properly served and “fails
‘to plead or otherwise defend' in accordance with
the rules.” United States v. Moradi, 673 F.2d
725, 727 (4th Cir. 1982); Fed.R.Civ.P. 55(b)(2). Pursuant to
Rule 55(b)(2), the clerk may enter a default judgment where
“the plaintiff's claim is for a sum certain or a
sum that can be made certain by computation” and,
“[i]n all other cases, ” the rule requires the
party to apply to the court for a default judgment. While the
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure encourage disposition of
claims on their merits, it is within the trial court's
discretion to enter default judgment. Moradi, 673
F.2d at 727 (citing Reizakis v. Loy, 490 F.2d 1132,
1135 (4th Cir. 1974)).
determining whether to grant default judgment, the court
treats the well-pleaded factual allegations in the complaint
as true and established. Ryan v. Homecomings Fin.
Network, 253 F.3d 778, 780 (4th Cir. 2001) (citations
omitted). The court must nonetheless “consider whether
the unchallenged facts constitute a legitimate cause of
action, since a party in default does not admit mere
conclusions of law.” 10A Charles A. Wright, Arthur R.
Miller & Mary Kay Kane, Federal Practice &
Procedure § 2688 (3d ed. Supp. 2010);
Ryan, 253 F.3d at 790. The appropriate inquiry for
the court is whether “the face of the pleadings
supports the default judgment and the causes of action
therein.” Anderson v. Found. for Advancement, Educ.
and Emp't of Am. Indians, No. 99-1508, 1999 WL
598860, at *1 (4th Cir. Aug. 10, 1999).
that requests default judgment must show the following:
“(1) when and against what party the default was
entered; (2) identification of the pleading to which default
was entered; (3) whether the defaulting party is an infant or
incompetent person; (4) that the defendant is not in military
services; and (5) that notice has been served on the
defaulting party, if required by Rule 55(b)(2).”
All Am. Ins. Co. v. Morris, No. 4:11-cv-41, 2011 WL
5330302, at *1 (E.D. Va. Nov. 4, 2011).
to the above standards, the court finds that default judgment
is proper. Hudson has shown default was entered against
Millard and when, and it has identified the pleading to which
default was entered. Millard is not an infant, incompetent
person, or in military services, and because he has not
appeared, no notice was required to be served on Millard
under Rule 55(b)(2). (Mot. for Default J., Dkt. No. 11.)
the Fourth Circuit has “declin[ed] to address the issue
of whether a district court must satisfy itself, sua
sponte, that it has personal jurisdiction before
entering a default judgment, ” the court nonetheless
notes that it has personal jurisdiction over Millard.
Williams v. Advertising Sex, LLC, 410 Fed.Appx. 578,
580 (4th Cir. 2011); cf. Homesite Ins. Co. v.
Stapleton, No. 1:14-cv-199, 2014 WL 5107081, at *1 (E.D.
Va. Oct. 3, 2014) (“The court must have . . . personal
jurisdiction over a defaulting party before it can render
default judgment.”). Under Virginia's long-arm
statute, a court may exercise personal jurisdiction over a
non-resident defendant if the asserted cause of action arises
out of the defendant's transaction of business in
Virginia. Consulting Eng'rs Corp. v. Geometric
Ltd., 561 F.3d 273, 277 (4th Cir. 2009); Va. Code §
8.01-328.1(A)(1). Further, Virginia's long-arm statute
extends personal jurisdiction “to the extent
permissible under the due process clause, [so] the statutory
inquiry merges with the constitutional inquiry.”
Consulting Eng'rs Corp., 561 F.3d at 277. Under
the constitutional analysis, the court must consider
“(1) the extent to which the defendant
‘purposefully avail[ed]' itself of the privilege of
conducting activities in the State; (2) whether the
plaintiffs' claims arise out of those activities directed
at the State; and (3) whether the exercise of personal
jurisdiction would be constitutionally
‘reasonable.'” ALS Scan, Inc. v. Dig.
Serv. Consultants, Inc., 293 F.3d 707, 712 (4th Cir.
cause of action seeking declaratory relief arises out of
Millard's transaction of business in Virginia-the
incident for which Millard seeks compensation under the
policy was a business transaction because he was making a
delivery, the delivery was in Roanoke, Virginia, and Hudson
avers that the policy benefits do not cover this incident in
Virginia. See Nan Ya Plastics Corp. U.S.A. v.
DeSantis, 377 S.E.2d 388, 391 (Va. 1989) (citing
Kolbe, Inc. v. Chromodern, Inc., 180 S.E.2d 664, 667
(Va. 1971) (“Because our statute speaks of transacting
any business, it is a single-act statute requiring
only one transaction in Virginia to confer jurisdiction on
our courts.”)). In addition, Millard purposefully
availed himself of the forum state of Virginia, and the
court's exercise of personal jurisdiction here is
reasonable. He could reasonably anticipate being haled into
court in Virginia because he reached into Virginia to conduct
business. See Consulting Eng'rs Corp., 561 F.3d
at 278 (discussing how courts consider “whether the
defendant reached into the forum state to solicit or initiate
business” when determining whether a defendant has
purposefully availed himself). Thus, there is personal
jurisdiction over Millard.
to Hudson's entitlement to relief, the court finds that
the unchallenged facts here are sufficient to grant
declaratory relief to Hudson. Hudson's complaint alleges
that the underlying incident is not covered because it falls
within a number of exclusions in the policy and that the
policy is void. (Compl. 9-10, Dkt. No. 1.) The court
concludes that the incident clearly falls within the first
exclusion that excludes “aggression in a fight”
from the definition of a covered ...