United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Texarkana Division
O. HICKEY, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
the Court is Plaintiffs' request for damages made in
Plaintiffs' Supplemental Motion for Default Judgment as
to Defendants Dennis Chase and Chasemaster Corporation (ECF
No. 30). Also before the Court are Plaintiffs' Motion for
Attorney's Fees and Costs (ECF No. 31) and
Plaintiffs' Supplemental Motion for Attorney's Fees
and Costs (ECF No. 35). The Court finds these matters ripe
their Complaint, Plaintiffs originally named as Defendants
(1) Dennis Chase, (2) Chasemaster Corporation, (3) William
Hallack, Jr., (4) Ronald Novack, Jr., and (5) Juli Anne
Novack. ECF No. 1, p. 1. Plaintiffs are residents of
Arkansas. ECF No. 1, ¶ 1. All of the originally named
Defendants are residents of Louisiana. ECF No. 1,
¶¶ 2-6, 24. Defendant Dennis Chase was served on
February 4, 2016, but failed to respond or enter an
appearance. ECF No. 6. Defendant Chasemaster Corporation was
served through its registered agent on February 8, 2016, but
failed to respond or enter an appearance. ECF No. 7. On April
28, 2016, the Court granted Plaintiffs' motion to
voluntarily dismiss Defendants Ronald Novack, Jr., and Juli
Anne Novack, as Plaintiffs claimed they were unable to
perfect service upon the Novacks. ECF No. 19. Likewise, on
August 30, 2016, the Court dismissed Defendant William
Hallack, Jr., for lack of personal jurisdiction. ECF No. 28.
subsequently moved for default judgment on their
breach-of-contract claim and the Court entered default
judgment on that claim against Defendants Chase and
Chasemaster Corporation on February 1, 2017. ECF No. 32.
However, the Court's grant of default judgment was to
liability only, as the Court determined that a damages
hearing was necessary because, although Plaintiffs had plead
a breach of contract claim, they had not “provided the
Court with evidence establishing the terms and provisions of
the contract at issue” so that the Court could
determine damages. ECF No. 32. The Court held an evidentiary
damages hearing on May 26, 2017 (“hearing”).
Plaintiffs attended that hearing and provided the Court with
various exhibits they claim establish the terms of their
“investment agreement” with Defendants and show
the amount of damages to which they are entitled. Defendants
did not appear at the hearing.
Court has previously outlined the factual background, as
alleged in the unanswered Complaint, that gave rise to this
In Plaintiffs' Complaint, they assert that they are
African-American poultry farmers. ECF No. 1. They [state]
that the Farm Service Agency (“FSA”), “an
arm of the United States Department of Agriculture
(“USDA”)” failed to timely process their
loan applications and later denied their applications because
they are African-American, in violation of the Equal Credit
Opportunity Act, 15 U.S.C. §§ 1691, et
seq. ECF No. 1, ¶ 12. “On July 24, 2008, and
as a result of the FSA's discrimination, [Plaintiffs]
filed a pro se civil rights complaint with the
Office of Adjudication of the USDA.” ECF No. 1, ¶
13. Defendant Dennis Chase, holding himself out as an expert
on FSA procedure and protocol, subsequently contacted
Plaintiffs and began “advising them regarding the FSA
and how to proceed before the Office of Adjudication.”
ECF No. 1, ¶ 14. Plaintiffs later hired Defendant Chase,
acting both individually and through Defendant Chasemaster
Corporation, to represent them before the USDA. ECF No. 1,
¶¶ 15, 16. The USDA subsequently ruled in
Plaintiffs' favor and awarded them $460, 738 in damages.
ECF No. 1, ¶ 17. Plaintiffs gave Defendants Chase and
Chasemaster Corporation a 40% fee of $184, 295. ECF No. 1,
Defendant Chase also convinced Plaintiffs to allow him to
invest, on their behalf, $110, 000 of their award at 7.25%
interest. ECF No. 1, ¶ 20. Defendant Chase “also
indicated that he would assign [Plaintiffs] a $200, 000
mortgage as collateral to secure their investment.” ECF
No. 1, ¶ 20. Plaintiffs and Defendant Chase entered an
agreement in August of 2011 whereby Defendant Chase would
invest Plaintiffs' $110, 000 at 7.25% interest on their
behalf and would make monthly payments to Plaintiffs of $1,
ECF No. 1, ¶ 20. From September of 2011 to August of
2012, Plaintiffs received monthly payments of $1, 000. ECF
No. 1, ¶ 22. Defendant Chase held a mortgage on property
owned by his daughter and son-in-law and assigned that
mortgage to Plaintiffs as collateral. ECF No. 1, ¶ 24.
Plaintiffs state that they have never seen the property and
do not know the value of the property. ECF No. 1, ¶ 25.
After the agreed upon monthly payments stopped, Plaintiffs
demanded the return of their $110, 000. ECF No. 1, ¶ 25.
In lieu of returning the $110, 000, Defendant Chase offered
to deed the property owned by his daughter and son-in-law to
Plaintiffs. ECF No. 1, ¶ 25. A Deed in Lieu of
Foreclosure was drafted and sent to Plaintiffs. ECF No. 1,
Plaintiffs filed their Complaint on November 3, 2015. ECF No.
1. As to Defendants Dennis Chase and Chasemaster Corporation,
Plaintiffs alleged causes of action for: (1) breach of
contract; (2) promissory estoppel; (3) unjust
enrichment/assumpsit; (4) conversion; (5) breach of fiduciary
duty; and (6) fraud. ECF No. 1.
ECF No. 32.
Court's previous order granting default judgment on the
issue of liability, the Court noted that “Plaintiffs
[had] not provided the Court with evidence establishing the
terms and provisions of the contract at issue, ” and
that a hearing to determine damages would be necessary.
Accordingly, the Court instructed Plaintiffs “to
provide the Court with all relevant documentation concerning
the contract at issue including (1) the contract itself; (2)
promissory notes assigned to Plaintiffs; (3) mortgages
Plaintiffs may hold as collateral for their investment and
information about the mortgaged property such as location and
value; and (4) any other documentation showing the amount of
Plaintiffs' damages.” In accordance with this
direction, Plaintiffs introduced various exhibits in the
course of the hearing on damages that Plaintiffs contend
establish the terms of the “investment agreement”
and otherwise show their damages.