United States District Court, District of Columbia
ROSEMARY M. COLLYER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Dumpson filed this case against Brian Andrew Ade, Andrew
Anglin, and Moonbase Holdings, LLC, for allegedly interfering
with her right to full and equal enjoyment of places of
public accommodation and an educational institution and for
intentional infliction of emotional distress. Messrs. Ade and
Anglin and Moonbase Holdings were served but failed to
answer. Following the entry of default by the Clerk of Court,
Ms. Dumpson moved for default judgment. Defendants failed to
respond to her motion or the Court's Order to Show Cause
why it should not be granted. The Court will grant her motion
for default judgment; order compensatory damages in the
amount of $101, 429.28, punitive damages in the amount of
$500, 000, and attorneys' fees and costs in the amount of
$124, 022.10; enter a restraining order against Moonbase
Holdings and Messrs. Anglin and Ade; and enter a preservation
order against Mr. Anglin and Moonbase Holdings.
1, 2017, one day after Ms. Dumpson was inaugurated as the
first female, African-American student government president
at American University (AU), a masked man hung nooses with
bananas inscribed with racist and derogatory messages around
the AU campus, including near the Mary Graden Center, the
student center which houses the AU Student Government
offices. Am. Compl. [Dkt. 16] ¶¶ 51, 61, 63-64. It
is alleged that the bananas were inscribed with phrases such
as “AKA Free” (a reference to Ms. Dumpson's
sorority, Alpha Kappa Alpha) and “Harambe bait”
(a reference to a gorilla because comparing African Americans
to apes is a common racist slur). Id. ¶ 64. Ms.
Dumpson, AU, and law enforcement all believed Ms. Dumpson to
be “the primary target of the hate crime.”
Id. ¶ 74.
the media reported on this crime, Mr. Anglin posted an
article about Ms. Dumpson on his website, the Daily Stormer,
writing: “No one feels safe around bananas. Some
racists have taken to calling this African Queen ‘Dumpy
Dumpson,' smdh [shaking my damn head].”
Id. ¶¶ 89-90. Mr. Anglin then published
Ms. Dumpson's name, photo, and direct links to her
Facebook account and the AU Student Government Twitter
account with which Ms. Dumpson was associated as AU Student
Government President. Id. ¶ 90. Mr. Anglin
further directed his followers to “troll
storm” Ms. Dumpson, Id. ¶ 2,
encouraging them to troll Ms. Dumpson saying: “Be sure
to send her some words of support on Facebook, and hit up the
AU Student Government on Twitter. Let her know that you fully
support her struggle against bananas.” Id.
Mr. Anglin's article, Ms. Dumpson's Facebook accounts
and the AU, AU Student Government, and AU Student Government
President Twitter accounts were targeted with messages.
Id. ¶ 97. Mr. Ade participated in the troll
storm by posting on Twitter comments including: (1) “I
beez prezdent n sheeeeit, ” (2) “Turdler takes a
Dump son, ” (3) “OOOOOOK EEEEEK CHIMPOUT!,
” (4) “You beez 100% sheboon!, ” (5)
“Sheeeeit I dindu nuffins she was axing fo it n
sheeeit!, ” (6) “Racoons Rule, coons drool,
” (7) “Waah, waah, Dats Rayceez!, ” and (8)
“Chimput!” Id. ¶ 100. In response
to the AU Student Government's post about a campus
community meeting regarding the incident, Mr. Ade responded,
“[s]o in black people time, this will start
receiving the messages from Mr. Ade and others, Ms. Dumpson began
fearing for her life and suffering both physically and
mentally. Id. ¶¶ 120-28. Ms. Dumpson felt
constantly on edge when walking alone and became terrified of
leaving her home at night. Id. ¶¶ 125-26.
She started to carry an alarm on her keyring at all times and
pepper spray for self-defense. Id. ¶ 125.
Because she no longer felt comfortable to walk, bike, or take
public transportation to commute to school and travel around
town, she began to take Ubers more frequently. Id.
¶ 126. Ms. Dumpson's academics and preparation for
law school also suffered as a result of the online
harassment. She no longer felt safe studying late on AU's
campus at night, missed exams, and dropped her minor in
sociology. Id. ¶ 128. Ms. Dumpson also
continues to feel scared of being harassed and stalked online
which has interfered with her online presence and
self-expression. Id. ¶ 127. From July 2017 to
the present, Ms. Dumpson has been receiving regular
psychiatric counseling. Id. ¶ 123. She was
diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), an
eating disorder, depression, and anxiety; and she is now
being treated for these conditions. Id. ¶¶
124, 177. From June 2017 to January 2018, Ms. Dumpson lost an
unhealthy amount of weight-more than 15% of her body
weight-from the mental trauma stemming from the incident.
Id. ¶ 121.
April 30, 2018, Ms. Dumpson filed a Complaint against Messrs.
Ade and Anglin, Moonbase Holdings, and James
McCarty. Compl. [Dkt. 1]. Moonbase Holdings and
Messrs. Ade and Anglin failed to respond to the Complaint and
the Clerk of Court entered default against each Defendant.
See Clerk's Entry of Default as to Brian Andrew Ade [Dkt.
10]; Clerk's Entry of Default as to Moonbase Holdings,
LLC [Dkt. 20]; Clerk's Entry of Default as to Andrew
Anglin [Dkt. 28].
Dumpson now moves for default judgment against Messrs. Anglin
and Ade and Moonbase Holdings for violations of the District
of Columbia Human Rights Act of 1977 (DCHRA), D.C. Code
§ 2-1401.01 et seq., and intentional infliction of
emotional distress. See Mot. for Default J. (Mot.) [Dkt. 35];
Mem. in Supp. of Mot. for Default. J. (Mem.) [Dkt. 35-1]. Ms.
Dumpson asks the Court to find Defendants jointly and
severally liable for her injuries and requests compensatory
damages, punitive damages, attorneys' fees, and
injunctive relief. Mot. at 1-2. Defendants have not responded
to Ms. Dumpson's Motion for Default Judgment or the
Court's Order to Show Cause why default judgment should
not be entered. See Order to Show Cause [Dkt. 39]. The motion
is ripe for review.
JURISDICTION AND VENUE
Court has diversity jurisdiction over this action. See 28
U.S.C. § 1332(a). Ms. Dumpson is a citizen of Maryland,
Am. Compl. ¶ 16; Mr. Anglin is a citizen of Ohio, id.
29; Moonbase Holdings is a limited-liability corporation
registered in Ohio, Id. ¶ 30; and Mr. Ade is a
citizen of Tennessee. Id. ¶ 33. Additionally,
Ms. Dumpson's requested relief exceeds $75, 000.
Id. ¶ 38. Venue is proper in this Court and the
Court has personal jurisdiction over the Defendants because
the allegedly discriminatory statements were targeted at an
individual that attended school in, and activities that
occurred in, the District of Columbia. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 4;
D.C. Code § 13-423(a)(3); 28 U.S.C. § 1391(b)(2).
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 55
is a two-step procedure for requesting default judgment.
Fanning v. Seneca One Realty LLC, 265 F.Supp.3d 31,
33 (D.D.C. 2017) (citing Boland v. Cacper Constr.
Corp., 130 F.Supp.3d 379, 382 (D.D.C. 2015)). First,
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 55(a) requires the Clerk of
Court to enter default “[w]hen a party against whom a
judgment for affirmative relief is sought has failed to plead
or otherwise defend, and that failure is shown by affidavit
or otherwise.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 55(a). Second, once the
Clerk has entered default, “the party must apply to the
court for a default judgment.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 55(b)(2). A
court may then enter default judgment as established in Rule
55(b). Id. Determining whether default judgment is
appropriate “is committed to the discretion of the
trial court.” Int'l Painters & Allied Trades
Indus. Pension Fund v. Auxier Drywall, LLC,
531 F.Supp.2d 56, 57 (D.D.C. 2008) (citing Jackson v.
Beech, 636 F.2d 831, 836 (D.C. Cir. 1980)).
[judgment] establishes the defaulting party's liability
for the well-pleaded allegations of the complaint.”
Boland v. Elite Terrazzo Flooring, Inc.,
763 F.Supp.2d 64, 67 (D.D.C. 2011). To authorize default
judgment, a “defendant must be considered a
‘totally unresponsive' party, and its default
plainly willful, reflected by its failure to respond to the
summons and complaint, the entry of a default, or the motion
for default judgment.” Int'l Painters, 531
F.Supp.2d at 57 (quoting Gutierrez v. Berg
Contracting Inc., No. 99-3044, 2000 WL 331721, at *1
(D.D.C. Mar. 20, 2000)). Given “the absence of any
request to set aside the default or suggestion by the
defendant that it has a meritorious defense, ” courts
have found that the plaintiff has satisfied the standard for
default judgment. Id. (quoting Gutierrez, 2000 WL
331721, at *1).
the Court has established liability, “the court must
make an independent evaluation of the damages to be awarded
and has ‘considerable latitude in determining the
amount of damages.'” Sanchez v. Devashish
Hosp., LLC, 322 F.R.D. 32, 35 (D.D.C. 2017) (quoting
Ventura v. L.A. Howard Constr. Co., 134 F.Supp.3d
99, 103 (D.D.C. 2015) and Elite Terrazzo Flooring, 763
F.Supp.2d at 67). To determine whether there is a basis to
determine damages, “a plaintiff must ‘prove [her]
entitlement' to the relief requested using
‘detailed affidavits or documentary evidence on which
the court may rely.'” Ventura, 134 F.Supp.3d at 103
(quoting Boland v. Providence Constr. Corp., 304
F.R.D. 31, 36 (D.D.C. 2014)). “Ultimately, what matters
is that the court ‘ensures that there is a basis for
the damages specified in the default judgment.'”
Pescatore v. Palmera Pineda, 345 F.Supp.3d 68, 71
(D.D.C. 2018) (quoting Fanning v. Wegco, Inc., 5
F.Supp.3d 1, 4 (D.D.C. 2013)). A court may conduct a hearing
to set the amount of damages, see Fed.R.Civ.P. 55(b)(2), but
it is not required to do so as long as there is a basis for
the damages specified in the motion for default judgment. See
Ventura, 134 F.Supp.3d at 103.
Dumpson followed the two-step procedure that is required for
default judgment. The Clerk of Court entered default against
Moonbase Holdings and Messrs. Ade and Anglin and Ms. Dumpson
applied to this Court for default judgment. The Court has
discretion to determine whether default judgment is
appropriate and may enter default judgment on any
well-pleaded allegations. See Int'l Painters, 531
F.Supp.2d at 57. Courts consider whether the defendant is a
“totally unresponsive” party, and its default
plainly willful, reflected by its failure to respond to the
summons and complaint, the entry of default, or the motion
for default judgment. Id.
failed to file an answer, object to the entry of default by
the Clerk, or respond to the Court's order to show cause
why default judgment should not be entered against them, the
Court finds Messrs. Ade ...