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Castillo v. D&P Professional Services, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Maryland

July 2, 2015



DeBORAH K. CHASANOW, District Judge.

Presently pending and ready for resolution in this case involving alleged violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act, Maryland Wage and Hour Law, and the Maryland Wage Payment and Collection Law is a motion for default judgment filed by Plaintiff Jose Domingo Sequeira Castillo. (ECF No. 14). The court now rules, no hearing being deemed necessary. Local Rule 105.6. For the following reasons, the motion will be granted in part and denied in part.

I. Background

A. Factual Background

The following facts are set forth in the amended complaint. (ECF No. 3). Defendants D&P Professional Services, Inc. ("D&P"), Anthony Doukas ("Mr. Doukas"), and Juan Carlos Pena ("Mr. Pena") (collectively, "Defendants") operate a carwash and auto-detailing service. ( Id. ¶ 2). Mr. Doukas and Mr. Pena are co-owners of D&P. ( Id. ¶ 11-12). Defendants employed Plaintiff, Jose Domingo Sequiera Castillo, ("Mr. Castillo" or "Plaintiff"), as a general laborer/car washer from about December 12, 2006 through March 23, 2014. ( Id. ¶ 11-12). Plaintiff performed landscaping and grounds work duties for Defendants. ( Id. ¶ 11(a)). At all times relevant, Mr. Doukas and Mr. Pena ran the day to day operations of D&P. ( Id. ¶ 12-13). Plaintiff alleges that Mr. Doukas and Mr. Pena: (1) had the power to hire, fire, suspend and otherwise discipline Plaintiff; (2) supervised the work duties performed by Plaintiff; (3) set and controlled the work schedule for Plaintiff; and (4) set and determined the rate and method of pay for Plaintiff. ( Id. ¶ 12-13).

According to the amended complaint, Plaintiff was interviewed by Mr. Pena and Mr. Doukas before he began working for D&P and they explained to him the "rate of pay and what he had to do." ( Id. ¶ 14). Plaintiff asserts that he was paid a weekly salary regardless of the number of hours that he worked. week, also irrespective of the hours worked. ( Id. ). According to Plaintiff, Defendants had knowledge of all hours Plaintiff worked at all times during his employment.

Plaintiff contends that he ended his employment on March 23, 2014, when "Mr. Pena dismissed Plaintiff from his work area and informed Plaintiff that if he wanted to continue working for Defendants, he would be moved to a new location for less pay." ( Id. ¶ 14). Plaintiff avers that in addition to failing to pay him all of the wages owed to him, Defendants did not pay him $1, 300.00 for hours worked during the last two weeks and one day of his employment with D&P. ( Id. ¶ 11.d).

Plaintiff has provided an affidavit signed under penalty of perjury stating that from June 20, 2011 until June 1, 2012, he was paid $450 per week for seventy-two hours of work performed. (ECF No. 14-1, at 10). He further avers that from June 2, 2012 until March 23, 2014, he was paid $600 on a weekly basis for seventy-hours of work performed. Although he attaches only one earning statement reflecting that he earned $600 from May 4, 2014 until May 10, 2014, his affidavit testimony concerns his pay for all the weeks for which he states he was not paid minimum wage and/or overtime. ( Id. at 12). Specifically, Plaintiff declares in his sworn affidavit that during his employment period, "Defendants never paid [him] time and a half [his] regular rate for the hours [he] worked over forty." ( Id. at 10). He also attaches a spreadsheet showing the number of weeks worked, his weekly pay, and the number of overtime hours worked per week. ( Id. at 14).

B. Procedural Background

Plaintiff originally filed his complaint on June 20, 2014. (ECF No. 1). On July 31, 2014, Plaintiff filed an amended fivecount complaint against all Defendants, alleging minimum wage and overtime violations pursuant to the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, as amended, 29 U.S.C. § 201 et seq. ("FLSA") (counts I and III); the Maryland Wage and Hour Law, Md. Code Ann., Lab. & Empl. § 3-401 et seq. ("MWHL") (counts II and IV); and the Maryland Wage Payment and Collection Law, Md. Code Ann., Lab. & Empl. § 3-501 et seq. ("MWPCL") (count V).

Service of process was properly effected on all Defendants. When Defendants failed to respond within the requisite time period, Plaintiff moved for entry of default. (ECF No. 10). The clerk entered default on November 4, 2014. (ECF No. 11). Plaintiff filed the pending motion for default judgment on December 22, 2014. (ECF No. 14). To date, Defendants have taken no action in the case.

II. Standard of Review

Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 55(a), "[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, the clerk must enter the party's default." Rule 55(b)(1) provides that the clerk may enter a default judgment if the plaintiff's claim is "for a sum certain or a sum that can be made certain by computation." Where a default has been previously entered by the clerk and the complaint does not specify a certain amount of damages, default judgment may be entered upon the plaintiff's application and notice to the defaulting party, pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 55(b)(2). "Upon [entry of] default, the well-pled allegations in a complaint as to liability are taken as true, although the allegations as to damages are not." S.E.C. v. Lawbaugh, 359 F.Supp.2d 418, 422 (D.Md. 2005). It remains, however, "for the court to determine whether these unchallenged factual allegations constitute a legitimate cause of action." Agora Fin., LLC v. Samler, 725 F.Supp.2d 491, 494 (D.Md. 2010).

Where a complaint does not specify an amount, such as here, "the court is required to make an independent determination of the sum to be awarded." Adkins v. Teseo, 180 F.Supp.2d 15, 17 (D.D.C. 2001) ( citing S.E.C. v. Mgmt. Dynamics, Inc., 515 F.2d 801, 814 (2d Cir. 1975); Au Bon Pain Corp. v. Artect, Inc., 653 F.2d 61, 65 (2d Cir. 1981)). While the court may hold a hearing to consider evidence as to damages, it is not required to do so; it may rely instead on "detailed affidavits or documentary evidence to determine the appropriate sum." Adkins, 180 F.Supp.2d at 17 ( citing United Artists Corp. v. Freeman, 605 F.2d 854, 857 (5th Cir. 1979)); see also Laborers' District Council Pension, et al. v. E.G.S., Inc., Civ. ...

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