United States District Court, M.D. Tennessee, Nashville Division
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
A. TRAUGER United States District Judge
Frank Mucerino, Laura Mucerino, and Urban Angels Music Group
LLC filed this fraud action against Jason Lloyd Newman and
La'Rhonda Nicole Mitchell in 2013. Default under Rule
55(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure was previously
entered against both defendants: against defendant Newman for
failure to answer or to file any responsive pleading (Doc.
No. 79), and against defendant Mitchell for failing to
otherwise defend, even though she did file an answer pro
se. (Doc. Nos. 110, 112.) Now before the court is the
plaintiffs' unopposed Motion for Default Judgment. (Doc.
No. 125.) The court finds that a hearing is unnecessary. For
the reasons stated below, the court will grant the motion.
order to render a valid judgment, a court must have
jurisdiction over the subject matter and the parties and must
act in a manner consistent with due process. Antoine v.
Atlas Turner, Inc., 66 F.3d 105, 108 (6th Cir.1995).
With respect to a defendant who has not entered an
appearance, the court must determine whether it has
jurisdiction over that defendant before entering a judgment
by default against him. The failure to do so constitutes
reversible error. Ford Motor Co. v. Cross, 441
F.Supp.2d 837, 845 (E.D. Mich. 2006) (citing Dennis
Garberg & Assocs. v. Pack-Tech Int'l Corp., 115
F.3d 767 (10th Cir. 1997)).
Mitchell answered the Amended Complaint without asserting a
defense of lack of jurisdiction. The court therefore finds
that it has personal jurisdiction over Mitchell. See
Rauch v. Day & Night Mfg. Corp., 576 F.2d 697, 701
(6th Cir. 1978) (“[W]here a defendant files . . . an
answer, without raising the defense of a lack of in personam
jurisdiction, he waives any objection to that
Newman, the Amended Complaint asserts that the court has
diversity jurisdiction over this action, 28 U.S.C. §
1332(a), and alleges facts supporting diversity jurisdiction.
See Ford Motor Co., 441 F.Supp.2d at 846
(“Once a default is entered against a defendant, that
party is deemed to have admitted all of the well pleaded
allegations in the Complaint, including jurisdictional
averments.”). The plaintiffs are domiciled in
Tennessee; Mitchell is a resident and citizen of California,
and Newman is an individual operating a business in the state
of California but residing in Jamaica. (Am. Compl.
¶¶ 1-5.) Complete diversity exists. The plaintiff
alleges damages in excess of $75, 000. Thus the
amount-in-controversy requirement is met, and the court has
subject-matter jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a).
court also has personal jurisdiction over Newman. “In a
diversity action, the law of the forum state dictates whether
personal jurisdiction exists, subject to constitutional
limitations.” Intera Corp. v. Henderson, 428
F.3d 605, 615 (6th Cir. 2005). Tennessee's long-arm
statute provides that a Tennessee court may exercise
jurisdiction over an out-of-state defendant on “[a]ny
basis not inconsistent with the constitution of this state or
of the United States.” Tenn. Code Ann. §
20-2-214(6). Accordingly, the long-arm statute has been
consistently construed to extend to the limits of federal due
process. Gordon v. Greenview Hosp., Inc., 300 S.W.3d
635, 645 (Tenn. 2009).
plaintiffs allege that defendant Newman fraudulently induced
them, by telephone calls and emails with them in Tennessee,
to invest in a business venture that he was promoting. In
reliance upon the defendant's fraudulent statements, the
plaintiffs transferred funds in the amount of $148, 000 to
the defendant or his agents and bought plane tickets for
which they were supposed to have been reimbursed, costing $2,
382. Instead of investing the funds in the alleged business
venture, the defendants diverted the funds to their own use
and enjoyment. The defendants failed or refused to return or
repay any of the monies invested by the plaintiffs.
the defendants are deemed to have admitted all of the well
pleaded allegations in the complaint. Ford Motor
Co., 441 F.Supp.2d at 846. The allegations in the
Amended Complaint are sufficient to establish that defendant
Newman “purposefully avail[ed] himself of the
privilege” of acting and causing a consequence in the
state of Tennessee; that the cause of action arises from his
activities here; and that the consequences of his actions
have a substantial connection with the state. S. Mach.
Co. v. Mohasco Indus., Inc., 401 F.2d 374, 381 (6th Cir.
1968). The court therefore has personal jurisdiction over
Newman as well.
plaintiffs purport to bring their motion under Rule 55(b)(1),
which allows entry of default judgment by the Clerk of Court
under certain circumstances, including when a defendant
“has been defaulted for not appearing.” Because
defendant Mitchell entered an appearance in this action, the
court construes the motion as brought under Rule 55(b)(2).
that rule, the court may conduct an evidentiary ...