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Albanez v. Breeding Construction, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Maryland

July 8, 2015

JULIO ALBANEZ,
v.
BREEDING CONSTRUCTION, INC., et al.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

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 Julio Albanez. (ECF No. 6). The court now rules, no hearing being deemed necessary. Local Rule 105.6. For the following reasons, the motion to for default judgment will be denied without prejudice.

I. Background

A. Factual Background

The following facts are set forth in the complaint. (ECF No. 1). Plaintiff Julio Albanez ("Plaintiff" or "Mr. Albanez") worked for Defendant Breeding Construction, Inc. ("Breeding Construction") and James Breeding, the President of Breeding Construction, from June 22, 2010 until March 26, 2013. According to the complaint, Plaintiff took time off from July 10, 2010 until July 10, 2012 due to a work accident ("the Employment Period"). (ECF No. 1 ¶ 15). Plaintiff was paid $25.00 per hour during the Employment Period. ( Id. ¶ 16). According to Plaintiff, he worked an average of fifty to sixty hours per week during the Employment Period, sometimes working as much as eighty hours per week. ( Id. ¶ 17). Plaintiff avers that he was not compensated for overtime hours worked and is owed approximately $17, 250 in overtime wages. Plaintiff contends that Defendants willfully withheld overtime pay from him. ( Id. ¶ 21).

B. Procedural Background

Plaintiff filed his complaint on June 6, 2014. (ECF No. 1). Plaintiff alleges overtime violations pursuant to the Maryland Wage and Hour Law, Md. Code Ann., Lab. & Empl. § 3-401 et seq. ("MWHL") (counts I); the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, as amended, 29 U.S.C. § 201 et seq. ("FLSA") (count II); and the Maryland Wage Payment and Collection Law, Md. Code Ann., Lab. & Empl. § 3-501 et seq. ("MWPCL") (count III).

Service of process was properly effected on both Defendants. When Defendants failed to respond within the requisite time period, Plaintiff moved for entry of default. (ECF No. 4). The clerk entered default on September 17, 2014. (ECF No. 11). Plaintiff filed the pending motion for default judgment on February 11, 2015. (ECF No. 6). 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."

"Upon [entry of] default, the well-pled allegations in a complaint as to liability are taken as true, but 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). Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 54(c) limits the type of judgment that may be entered based on a party's default: "A default judgment must not differ in kind from, or exceed in amount, what is demanded in the pleadings." Thus, where a complaint specifies the amount of damages sought, such as here, the plaintiff is limited to entry of a default judgment in that amount. "[C]ourts have generally held that a default judgment cannot award additional damages... because the defendant could not reasonably have expected that his damages would exceed that amount." In re Genesys Data Technologies, Inc., 204 F.3d 124, 132 (4th Cir. 2000). 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 v. Teseo, 180 F.Supp.2d 15, 17 (D.D.C. 2001) ( citing United Artists Corp. v. Freeman, 605 F.2d 854, 857 (5th Cir. 1979)).

III. Analysis

A. Liability

Defendants were served with the complaint but have not responded. Accordingly, all of Plaintiff's allegations as ...


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