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Saunders v. GFS Entertainment Group, LLC

United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania

July 30, 2019

RAYCO SAUNDERS, Plaintiff,
v.
GFS ENTERTAINMENT GROUP, LLC, et al., Defendants.

          Cynthia Reed Eddy Chief Magistrate Judge

          MEMORANDUM ORDER

          CATHY BISSOON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This case has been referred to Chief United States Magistrate Judge Cynthia Reed Eddy for pretrial proceedings in accordance with the Magistrates Act, 28 U.S.C. §§ 636(b)(1)(A) and (B), and Local Rule of Civil Procedure 72.

         On July 8, 2019, the Magistrate Judge issued a Report and Recommendation (Doc. 56) (the “Report”). The Report recommended that Plaintiff Rayco Saunders's (“Plaintiff's”) Motion for Default Judgment (Doc. 49) be granted and that default judgment be entered against Defendant Darryl Robinson (“Defendant Robinson”) in the amount of $5, 001.00.

         For the reasons that follow, the Court will reject the Report, vacate its prior order dismissing GFS as a party to this suit (Doc. 46) and remand this matter to the Magistrate Judge for further proceedings consistent with this order.

         BACKGROUND

         The Report recounted Plaintiff's testimony at his default judgment hearing, found that Plaintiff had shown that Defendant Robinson, the President of Defendant GFS Entertainment Group, LLC (“GFS”), committed the District of Columbia tort of intentional interference with contractual or business relations as to Plaintiff's contract with GFS, [1] and found that Plaintiff failed to allege a valid contract between himself and Defendant Robinson such that Defendant Robinson could be liable for its breach. (Report at 2-4.)

         As to the amount of damages, the Report found that Plaintiff's testimony and allegations established that he lost the $5, 000 benefit he was promised under his bout contract with GFS, but that his alleged consequential damages and other loses were too speculative to award based on the record evidence and warranted only a nominal award of an additional $1. (Id. at 5.)

         On July 25, 2019, Plaintiff filed timely objections to the Report. (“Objections, ” Doc. 57.)[2] Beyond contesting the amount of damages, Plaintiff's core objection concerns service of process on the Defendants who were dismissed from this suit for lack of service.[3] (Objections at ¶¶ 1-8.)

         ANALYSIS

         The Court has conducted a de novo review of the pleadings and documents in this case, including Plaintiff's Objections, together with the Report.

         While the Court agrees with the Report's conclusions regarding the amount of damages, the Court's review of the record concerning service of process leads the Court to conclude that its prior order dismissing GFS from this suit (Doc. 46) was in error, as GFS was properly served through its officer, Defendant Robinson. Specifically, the Receipt for U.S. Marshal's Service on Defendant Robinson (Doc. 42), together with the allegations in the Amended Complaint (Doc. 39 at ¶ 9), establish that Defendant Robinson is the President of GFS and that he was served in both his individual capacity and in his capacity as GFS President. The Court will correct this oversight pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(a).

         Plaintiff properly served GFS. Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 4(h)(1)(B), service of process may be made on a corporation or similar entity by delivering a copy of the summons and complaint to “an officer” of the organization. Id. The president of a corporation, as an officer, is an appropriate recipient for service of process on behalf of the corporation under Rule 4(h)(1)(B). E.g., Chan v. Soc'y Expeditions, Inc., 39 F.3d 1398, 1404 (9th Cir. 1994) (personal service on the president of a corporation is sufficient for service on the corporation); Teamsters Pension Fund of Phila. & Vicinity v. Am. Helper, Inc., 2011 WL 4729023, at *2 (D.N.J. Oct. 5, 2011) (following motion for default judgment against a corporation, the court found that personal service on the president was sufficient for service on the corporation). The Court thus finds that the Receipt for U.S. Marshal's Service on Defendant Robinson, taken together with the allegations in the Amended Complaint, are sufficient to demonstrate service on GFS.

         Given the new posture of this case occasioned by this finding, the Court recognizes that additional proceedings and deadlines may be necessary to provide GFS with an appropriate opportunity to respond to the Amended Complaint. To the extent that GFS does not respond in the time allotted by the Magistrate Judge, Plaintiff may file a motion for default and default judgment against GFS, in accordance with the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Should such a motion for default and default judgment against GFS be filed, the Magistrate Judge shall make a determination as to whether any additional evidence is required for ...


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