United States District Court, W.D. Tennessee, Western Division
H. Mays, Jr. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
the Court is Plaintiff Allison Hames' February 15, 2019
Second Motion for Default Judgment as to Jeffrey Cranford.
ECF No. 38.) For the following reasons, the motion is DENIED
filed a Complaint against Defendants SunTrust Ban
("SunTrust"), Citibank, N.A.
("Citibank"), and a fictitious party labeled John
Doe in the Tennessee Circuit Court for the Thirtieth Judicial
District at Memphis. (ECF No. 1.) On February 22, 2018,
SunTrust removed to this Court on the basis of diversity
jurisdiction. (Id.) On May 21, 2018, Hames filed an
Amended Complaint identifying the fictitious party as Jeffrey
Cranford. (ECF No. 20.)
Amended Complaint brings four claims against Defendants: (1)
a breach of contract and breach of fiduciary duty claim
against SunTrust; (2) a conversion claim against Cranford;
(3) a "fraud and/or misrepresentation" claim
against Cranford; and (4) a claim for "other reckless
and/or negligent actions and/or omissions" against
SunTrust and Citibank. (ECF No. 20 ¶¶ 18-38.) Hames
seeks $150, 000 in compensatory damages from all Defendants
"jointly and severally," $500, 000 in punitive
damages from SunTrust and Citibank, and $1, 000, 000 in
punitive damages from Cranford. (Id. at 7.)
11, 2018, Hames, SunTrust, and Citibank filed a joint motion
to stay the proceedings in this case because of a related
criminal case in which Cranford is a defendant. (ECF No. 2
6); see generally United States of America v.
Cranford, No. 2:18-cr-20103-JTF (W.D. Tenn.). The Court
granted the parties' joint motion and stayed proceedings
on June 12, 2018. (ECF No. 27.)
was served on June 26, 2018. (ECF No. 31-1.) The Summons
instructed Cranford to serve an answer on Hames or her
attorney within twenty-one days after service. (ECF No. 30.)
Cranford has not filed a responsive pleading or appeared in
this action. On September 10, 2018, Hames filed a Motion for
Entry of Default against Cranford under Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 55(a). (ECF No. 34.) On September 10, 2018, the
Court Clerk entered a Default against Cranford under Rule
55(a). (ECF No. 35.)
September 11, 2018, Hames moved for Default Judgment as to
Defendant Jeffrey Cranford under Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 55(b). (ECF No. 36.) The Court denied Hames'
motion because she had not offered sufficient evidence to
support damages. (ECF No. 37.) The Court had before it only
the allegations in the Amended Complaint and an affidavit of
Hames' counsel, who did not purport to have personal
knowledge of the facts. (See id.)
February 15, 2019, Hames filed a Second Motion for Default
Judgment as to Defendant Jeffrey Cranford under Federal Rule
of Civil Procedure 55(b). (ECF No. 38.) On May 14, 2019,
the Court ordered SunTrust and Citibank to submit evidence
sufficient to establish diversity jurisdiction following the
May 21, 2018 joinder of Cranford as a defendant. (ECF No.
39.) On May 24, 2019, SunTrust and Citibank filed an Amended
Notice of Removal. (ECF No. 4 0.)
courts must consider their subject-matter jurisdiction in
every case. Answers in Genesis of Ky., Inc. v. Creation
Ministries Int'l, Ltd., 556 F.3d 459, 465 (6th Cir.
2009). Before a court can enter default judgment, it must
establish that it has subject-matter jurisdiction. 10A
Charles Alan Wright et al., Federal Practice and
Procedure § 2682 (4th ed. 2019).
Court has diversity jurisdiction over this case under 28
U.S.C. § 1332(a). The requirements for diversity
jurisdiction are: (1) no plaintiff may be a citizen of the
same state as any defendant; and (2) the amount in
controversy must be greater than $75, 000.00. 28 U.S.C.
§ 13 32(a); Strawbridge v. Curtiss, 7 U.S. (3
Cranch) 267, 267 (1806).
purposes of diversity jurisdiction, a person is a citizen of
the state in which he is domiciled. Newman-Green, Inc. v.
Alfonzo-Larrain, 490 U.S. 826, 828 (1989); Smith v.
Queener, No. 17-5770, 2018 WL 3344176, at *2 (6th Cir.
Jan. 4, 2018). The Court previously found that Hames,
SunTrust, and Citibank are citizens of Tennessee, Georgia,
and South Dakota, respectively. (ECF No. 39 at 4.) In their
Amended Notice of Removal, SunTrust and Citibank submit
several documents from Cranford's related criminal case
indicating that Cranford is a resident of California. (ECF
No. 40 at 4-5; see also ECF Nos. 40-3 (Indictment);
40-6 (Cranford's Mot. for Waiver of Appearance at Report
Dates/Status Conference); 41-1 (Conditions of Release and
Appearance); 41-2 (Cranford's Mot. to Continue Trial).)
"As a general rule, the place where a person lives is
taken to be his proper domicile until the evidence
establishes the contrary." Hayes v. Cowans, No.
14-cv-2366, 2014 WL 2972298, at *I3 (W.D. Tenn. July 2, 2014)
(citing Dist. of Columbia v. Murphy, 314 U.S. 441,
455 (1941)) . Cranford has submitted no contrary evidence.
The Court finds that Cranford is a citizen of California and
that the parties are completely diverse.
amount-in-controversy requirement is satisfied. Hames alleges
that the amount in controversy exceeds $75, 000. (ECF No. 20
at 7.) ``[T]he sum claimed by the plaintiff controls if the
claim is apparently made in good faith." St. Paul