United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Columbia Division
ORDER AND OPINION GRANTING DEFAULT JUDGMENT
United States of America (the “Government”) filed
this action against Defendants Jeffrey P. Clark and Cathy M.
Clark (together “Defendants”) “to reduce to
judgment unpaid individual federal tax liabilities and
penalties owed” and to foreclose on federal tax liens
against Defendants' real property located at 1805
Windmill Road, Leesville, South Carolina 29070 (the
“Subject Property”). (ECF No. 1 at 1 ¶ 1.)
matter is before the court by way of the Government's
unopposed Motion for Default Judgment pursuant to Rule 55(b)
of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. (ECF No. 15.) For
the reasons set forth below, the court
GRANTS the Government's Motion for
court must have both subject matter and personal jurisdiction
over a defaulting party before it can render a default
judgment.” E.g., United States v.
Pacheco, C/A No. 1:17cv0054 (LO/JFA), 2017 WL 3638077,
at *2 (E.D. Va. July 10, 2017). This court has subject matter
jurisdiction over the Government's claims via 28 U.S.C.
§ 1331, as the claims arise under the laws of the United
States, and also via 28 U.S.C. §§ 1340, 1345, and
26 U.S.C. § 7402, which empower district courts to hear
claims arising under the Internal Revenue Code. Because
Defendants reside in this judicial district (see
infra. ¶ 2), they are subject to the court's
RELEVANT BACKGROUND TO THE PENDING MOTION
December 20, 2017, the Government filed the Complaint against
Defendants in this action. (ECF No. 1.)
March 1, 2018, Defendants signed Waivers of the Service of
Summons expressly acknowledging that the failure to answer or
otherwise plead would result in a default judgment. (ECF Nos.
Pursuant to Rule 4(d)(3), Defendants were required to answer
or otherwise respond to the Complaint within sixty (60) days
from March 1, 2018, the date the request for waiver of
service was sent. (ECF Nos. 7-1, 8-1.)
Thereafter, on March 8, 2018, the Government effectuated
service of the Summons and Complaint on Defendants by United
States mail sent to their address at 1805 Windmill Road,
Leesville, South Carolina 29070. (ECF Nos. 7 at 1-2, 8 at
Government filed the Waivers of the Service of Summons on
March 8, 2018. (Id.)
Defendants failed to answer the Complaint, move in response
to the Complaint, or otherwise serve a responsive pleading on
or before April 30, 2018.
Thereafter, on May 15, 2018, the Government filed a Request
for Entry of Default. (ECF No. 12.)
Clerk of Court entered default in favor of the Government on
May 15, 2018. (ECF No. 13.)
July 13, 2018, the Government filed the instant Motion for
(ECF No. 15.)
Rule 55(b)(2) provides for the entry of default judgment by
the court against a party in default. Fed.R.Civ.P. 55(b)(2).
When the defendant has failed to respond to the complaint and
is in default, the court should accept the facts as set forth
in the complaint. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(b)(6);
see also Direct TV, Inc. v. Rawlins, 523 F.3d 318,
322 n.1 (4th Cir. 2009); Ryan v. Homecomings Fin.
Network, 253 F.3d 778, 780 (4th Cir. 2001) (“A
Defendant in default concedes the factual allegations of the
“Default does not, however, constitute an admission of
the adversary's conclusions of law, and is not to be
‘treated as an absolute confession by the defendant of
his liability and of the plaintiff's right to
recover.'” United States v. Forbes, Case
No. 1:17-cv-00530 (LMB/IDD), 2017 WL 5433201, at *2 (E.D. Va.
Aug. 24, 2017) (quoting Ryan, 253 F.3d at 780).
“Instead, the Court must ‘determine whether the
well-pleaded allegations in [the] complaint support the
relief sought in [the] action.” Id.
“If the court finds that liability is established, it
must then turn to the determination of damages.”
Entrepreneur Media, Inc. v. JMD Entm't Grp.,
LLC, 958 F.Supp.2d 588, 593 (D. Md. 2013) (citing
Ryan, 253 F.3d at 780-81). “The court must
make an independent determination regarding damages and
cannot accept as true factual allegations of damages.”
Id. (citing S.E.C. v. Lawbaugh, 359
F.Supp.2d 418, 422 (D. Md. 2005)). “Rule 54(c) of the
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure limits the type and amount
of damages that may be entered as a result of a party's