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United States v. Carstens

United States District Court, Seventh Circuit

September 4, 2013

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
KIMBERLY A. CARSTENS, HOLISHOR ASSOCIATION, INC., and CAPITAL ONE BANK USA, N.A., Defendants.

JUDGMENT DECREE AND ORDER DIRECTING SALE OF MORTGAGED PROPERTY

WILLIAM D. STIEHL, DISTRICT JUDGE

Plaintiff United States of America filed this action to foreclose a mortgage on, and sell, property owned by defendant Kimberly A. Carstens. Plaintiff also seeks to terminate interest in the property held by defendants Holishor Association, Inc., and Capital One Bank (USA), N.A. All three defendants were served, but they have not answered or otherwise appeared. The Clerk of Court entered default against them on June 17, 2013 (Doc. 12). Plaintiff then filed two motions for default judgment that were denied for failure to comply with the Court’s Local Rule 55.1 (Docs. 14, 16). Now before the Court is a new motion for default judgment (Doc. 17). The Court finds that plaintiff has substantially complied with Rule 55.1. The Court has subject-matter jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1345.

“There are two stages in a default proceeding: the establishment of the default, and the actual entry of a default judgment.” In re Catt, 368 F.3d 789, 793 (7th Cir. 2004). Once default has been established, if a plaintiff’s claim is for a sum certain, the clerk, on the plaintiff’s request, must enter judgment for that amount and costs against a defaulted defendant. Fed.R.Civ.P. 55(b)(1). “In all other cases, ” the plaintiff “must apply to the court for a default judgment.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 55(b)(2). The decision to grant or deny default judgment lies within the court’s discretion. Silva v. City of Madison, 69 F.3d 1368, 1377 (7th Cir. 1995).

Default judgment establishes as a matter of law that the defendant is liable to the plaintiff on each cause of action alleged in the complaint. e360 Insight v. The Spamhaus Project, 500 F.3d 594, 602 (7th Cir. 2007); O’Brien v. R.J. O’Brien & Assocs., Inc., 998 F.2d 1394, 1404 (7th Cir. 1993). “[T]he well-pleaded allegations of a complaint relating to liability are taken as true.” United States v. Di Mucci, 879 F.2d 1488, 1497 (7th Cir. 1989); accord Dundee Cement Co. v. Howard Pipe & Concrete Prods., Inc., 722 F.2d 1319, 1323 (7th Cir. 1983). But “‘[e]ven when a default judgment is warranted based on a party’s failure to defend, the allegations in the complaint with respect to the amount of damages are not deemed true. The district court must instead conduct an inquiry in order to ascertain the amount of damages with reasonable certainty.’” e360 Insight, 500 F.3d at 602 (quoting In re Catt, 368 F.3d at 793). Consequently, default judgment may not be entered without a hearing on damages unless “‘the amount claimed is liquidated or capable of ascertainment from definite figures contained in the documentary evidence or in detailed affidavits.’” Id. (quoting Dundee Cement Co., 772 F.2d at 1323); O’Brien, 998 F.2d at 1404.

Here, the Court finds that default judgment is warranted based on the allegations in plaintiff’s amended complaint and motion, the supporting exhibits, and defendants’ failure to appear. The Court further finds that the amount of damages is capable of ascertainment from the definite figures contained in the terms of the mortgage and note, and the affidavit signed by Molly K. Hammond, Acting State Director for Rural Development in the United States Department of Agriculture (Doc. 17, Ex. 2). Accordingly, plaintiff’s motion for default judgment (Doc. 17) is GRANTED. The Court FINDS as follows:

1. It has jurisdiction of the parties to and subject matter of this suit. Further, defendants have each been properly served but have failed to answer or otherwise appear, although the time for answering has expired and default has been entered.

2. Plaintiff, acting through the United States Department of Agriculture, Rural Development (formerly Farmers Home Administration), made a loan to defendant Kimberly A. Carstens, secured by a mortgage dated April 12, 2006 (Doc. 7, Ex. A), in the total principal amount of $150, 000.00. The mortgage was recorded on April 20, 2006, in Mortgage Record Document No. 2006R19753, Madison County, Illinois. That loan is evidenced by a promissory note dated April 12, 2006 (id., Ex. B). Carstens defaulted on the note. On May 15, 2012, plaintiff issued a notice of acceleration (id., Ex. C).

3. The following are the names of persons that may have claimed an interest in the above-described property, but who are foreclosed from asserting their claim, if any, because of their default in this action: Kimberly A. Carstens, Holishor Associates, Inc., and Capital One Bank (USA), N.A.

4. By virtue of the mortgage and indebtedness thereby secured, plaintiff has a valid and subsisting lien as follows:

Common address:
191 Shore Drive SW, Edwardsville, Illinois 62025 Legal description of the mortgaged premises: Lot B191 in Holiday Shores Subdivision No. 1, a subdivision in Section 1, Township 5 North, Range 8 West of the Third Principal Meridian, according to the plat thereof recorded in Plat Book 34 Page 129, in Madison County, Illinois.
Permanent Parcel No. 15-2-09-01-01-106-017

5. By virtue of the mortgage and the indebtedness thereby secured, as alleged in the amended complaint, ...


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