United States District Court, D. Connecticut
MEMORANDUM OF DECISION GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING
IN PART PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR DEFAULT JUDGMENT [DKT. NO.
Vanessa L. Bryant United States District Judge.
John James and Rosette Molnar bring this action for damages
arising out of Defendant Lopez Motors, LLC's
(“Lopez Motors”) alleged violations of the Truth
in lending Act (“TILA”), 15 U.S.C. § 1601 et
seq., and the Electronic Funds Transfer Act
(“EFTA”), 15 U.S.C. § 1693, et seq.
Plaintiffs also assert state law claims for breach of the
implied warranty of merchantability, for violation of the
Connecticut Retail Installment Sales Finance Act
(“RISFA”), Conn. Gen. Stat. §§ 36a-770
et seq., and the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act
(“CUTPA”), Conn. Gen. Stat. §§ 42-110a
et seq. Now before the Court is Plaintiffs' Motion for
Default Judgment, in which Plaintiffs' seek an award of
$2, 000 in statutory damages under TILA, $1, 000 in statutory
damages pursuant to EFTA, actual damages of $2, 366 pursuant
to RISFA, and punitive damages of $7, 500. Plaintiffs also
seek an order affirming that the contract was rescinded and
for post-judgment interest pursuant to Conn. Gen. Stat.
§ 37-3a. For the reasons that follow, Plaintiff's
motion is GRANTED IN PART and DENIED IN PART.
December 11, 2015, Molnar visited Lopez Motors and looked at
¶ 2010 Volkswagen Jetta (the “Vehicle”).
[Dkt. No. 1 (“Compl.”) ¶ 9]. While Lopez
Motors told Molnar that it had purchased the Vehicle from a
friend, in reality, the Vehicle had been offered for sale by
Whaling City Ford less than two months before Molnar viewed
the Vehicle. Id. ¶¶ 10-11. Molnar agreed
to purchase the Vehicle from Lopez Motors. Id.
¶ 12. James was not present at the dealership, but he
gave Molnar verbal permission to enter into a contract and
sign the contract documents on his behalf. Id.
¶ 13. Molnar paid a deposit of $500.00 and gave Lopez
Motors two post-dated checks each in the amount of $500.00
dated January 15, 2016 and January 29, 2016. Id.
Motors prepared a Purchase Order and a Retail Installment
Contract that listed the buyer as James and the co-buyer as
Molnar. Id. ¶ 15. Lopez Motors was required by
Connecticut law, specifically Conn. Gen. Stat. § 42-224,
to provide a written warranty that the Vehicle would be
mechanically operational and sound for a period of 60 days or
3, 000 miles because the Vehicle was six model years old and
was sold for more than $5, 000. Id. ¶ 16. Lopez
Motors did not provide this express warranty and attempted to
disclaim the implied warranty of merchantability on the
purchase order. Id. ¶ 17.
Retail Installment Contract included a charge of $1, 480 for
a service contract that Plaintiffs neither requested nor
desired. Id. ¶ 19. When Molnar asked Lopez
Motors about the service contract charge, she was told that
she was required to purchase the service contract as a
condition of financing. Id. ¶ 20. Defendant
also required Plaintiff to enroll in automatic withdrawals of
the loan payments as a condition of financing the Vehicle.
Id. ¶ 48. The Retail Installment Contract
stated that the amount of the down payment was $2, 000, even
though only $1, 500 had been requested or paid. Id.
¶ 21. Consequently, the cash price listed for the
Vehicle was inflated by $500, and Plaintiffs paid sales tax
on that excess $500. Id. ¶ 22.
executed the Retail Installment Contract and agreed to be
liable for the payments for James's Vehicle without
compensation, rendering her a “cosigner” within
the meaning of the Federal Trade Commission's Credit
Practices Rule. Id. ¶ 23; see also 16
C.F.R. § 444.1 (defining “cosigner” as
“[a] natural person who renders himself or herself
liable for the obligation of another person without
compensation.”). Molnar executed the Retail Installment
Contract by electronically signing her name and James's
name on a pad, and she was permitted the view the terms of
the Retail Installment Contract on a computer monitor.
Id. ¶ 24. The TILA disclosures were not made to
James in any form or manner prior to the time that he became
obligated under the RISC. Id. ¶ 25.
Molnar executed the Purchase Order and Retail Installment
Contract, Lopez Motors delivered the Vehicle to her.
Id. ¶ 26. Lopez subsequently assigned the
Retail Installment Contract to Credit Acceptance Corporation,
a sales finance company located in Michigan. Id.
¶ 27. Within weeks of delivery of the Vehicle, and
within the sixty day and 3, 000 mile warranty period,
Plaintiffs experienced mechanical problems and the
vehicle's coolant light illuminated. Id. ¶
28. Plaintiffs brought the Vehicle back to Lopez Motors for
repairs on multiple occasions, but it was unable to repair
the Vehicle. Id. ¶ 29. On February 1, 2016,
Plaintiffs brought the Vehicle to Lopez Motors one final time
for repairs. Id. ¶ 30. At that time, Lopez
Motors refused to repair the Vehicle. Id. ¶ 31.
Subsequently, Credit Acceptance paid Lopez Motors the $866
Plaintiffs had paid to Credit Acceptance in monthly payments.
about March 7, 2016, Molnar spoke with David Brown of Lopez
Motors, who offered to permit her to replace the Vehicle with
a different vehicle. Id. ¶ 34. On March 8,
2016, Molnar advised Brown that Plaintiffs did not want to
select another vehicle, and she demanded that Lopez Motors
repair the Vehicle. Id. ¶ 35. Brown told Molnar
that the Vehicle could be repaired, but Plaintiffs would need
to sign a new contract for the Vehicle in order to retake
possession. Id. ¶ 36. On April 12, 2016,
Plaintiffs requested through counsel that they be allowed to
have the Vehicle inspected by an independent facility prior
to entering into the new proposed contract. Id.
¶ 37. Lopez Motors responded by stating that it would
refund the money paid by Plaintiffs. Id. ¶ 38.
that promise, Lopez has failed to refund the amounts paid by
Plaintiffs, including $1500 to Lopez Motors and $866 to
Credit Acceptance, all of which Lopez Motors has wrongfully
of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure establishes a
two-step process for obtaining a default judgment. See,
e.g., New York v. Green, 420 F.3d 99, 104 (2d
Cir. 2005). First, a plaintiff must acquire an entry of
default against the defendant in question. Fed.R.Civ.P.
55(a). Second, after the default is entered, a plaintiff must
either request a default judgment from the clerk or move the
court for a default judgment. Fed.R.Civ.P. 55(b)(1)-(2). The
clerk can enter a default judgment only if the amount sought
is a sum certain or a sum that can be made certain by
computation. Fed.R.Civ.P. 55(b)(1). “In all other
cases, the party must apply to the court for default
judgment.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 55(b)(2). “The
determination of whether to grant a motion for default
judgment lies within the sound discretion of the district
court.” Int'l Brands USA, Inc. v. Old St.
Andrews Ltd., 349 F.Supp.2d 256, 261 (D. Conn. 2004)
(citing Shah v. New York State Dep't of Civil
Serv., 168 F.3d 610, 615 (2d Cir. 1999)). Plaintiff
properly served Defendants of the instant action, but
Defendant has failed to respond or enter a notice of
Court “may forgo an evidentiary hearing ‘as long
as [it] ensure[s] that there [is] a basis for the damages
specified.'” Andrade, 2012 WL 3059616, at
*3 (quoting Fustok v. ContiCommodity Servs., Inc.,
873 F.2d 38, 40 (2d Cir. 1989)). Because the Plaintiffs have