United States District Court, D. Maryland, Southern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
W. Grimm United States District Judge
Juan Flores, Angel Castillo, and Fidel Mejia have filed suit
against Defendants to recover unpaid overtime wages, and
Defendants have not responded to the pleadings. Plaintiffs
have since filed a Motion for Default Judgment, ECF No. 11,
to which Defendants have also not responded. Having reviewed
the filing, I find that a hearing is unnecessary in this
case. See Loc. R. 105.6. Because notice has not been
sought for class members pursuant to a collective action
brought under the Fair Labor Standards Act
(“FLSA”), 29 U.S.C. §§ 201 et
seq., nor has certification been sought under Federal
Rule of Civil Procedure 23, this Memorandum and Order will be
limited to the named Plaintiffs in this case. See
Fed R. Civ. P. 23(c); 29 U.S.C. § 216(b). Plaintiffs
have shown Defendants' liability and established some of
the damages they seek. Accordingly, Plaintiffs' Motion
for Default Judgment will be granted in part and denied in
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
Environmental Trust Solutions, Inc.
(“Environmental”) is a Maryland corporation that
performs environmental services such as “clearing
asbestos, mold, and lead abatement.” Compl. ¶ 4,
ECF No. 1. Defendants Gbomai Bestman-Johnson and Bodger
Johnson are husband and wife owners of Environmental.
Id. ¶ 6. As owners, they “determine which
employees will work at which job sites, the hours those
employees are to work, when the employees will be paid, and
how much the employees are paid.” Id. ¶
7. In addition, Mrs. Bestman-Johnson has the power to hire
and terminate individuals, while Mr. Johnson controls the
daily operations. See Flores Decl. ¶ 5,
Pls.' Mot. Ex. 2, ECF No. 11-2; see also Compl.
Juan Flores worked as a laborer for Environmental from
approximately December of 2014 until August of 2015.
See Flores Decl. ¶ 8. During that time, Mr.
Flores asserts that “[he] worked a total of 34 full
weeks for Defendants.” Id. In addition, he was
paid at a rate of “$16.00 per hour for 40 hours of work
each week regardless of the number of hours [he] actually
worked in excess of 40.” Id. ¶ 9.
Similarly, Angel Castillo also worked as a laborer for
Environmental. He was employed from February 20, 2015 until
August 20, 2015, totaling 24 full weeks. See
Castillo Decl. ¶ 8, Pls.' Mot. Ex. 3, ECF No. 11-3.
Mr. Castillo was paid at a rate of “$15.00 per hour for
40 hours of work each week.” Id. ¶ 9.
Likewise, Fidel Mejia worked for Defendants from May 1, 2015
until August 20, 2015, totaling 14 full weeks. See
Mejia Decl. ¶ 8, Pls.' Mot. Ex. 4, ECF No. 11-4. Mr.
Mejia was paid at a rate of “$14.00 per hour for 40
hours of work each week.” Id. ¶ 9.
Flores, Castillo, and Mejia all assert that on average they
worked 55 hours per week; however, they only were paid for 40
hours each workweek. As a result, Plaintiffs allege that they
were never compensated for any overtime hours, as mandated by
the FLSA; the Maryland Wage and Hour Law
(“MWHL”), Md. Code Ann., Lab. & Empl.,
§§ 3-401 et seq.; the Maryland Wage
Payment and Collection Law (“MWPCL”), Lab. &
Empl., §§ 3-501 et seq., and in breach of
their employment contracts.
basis, on October 8, 2015, Plaintiffs filed suit in this
Court against Defendants Environmental, Gbomai
Bestman-Johnson, and Bodger Johnson for unpaid wages, citing
violations of the FLSA, MWHL, MWPCL, and breach of contract.
See Compl. On June 7, 2016 Plaintiffs filed a Motion
for Clerk's Entry of Default and a Motion for Default
Judgment. ECF Nos. 10 and 11. Based on Defendants failure to
respond or otherwise defend in this proceeding, on September
7, 2016, pursuant to Rule 55(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure, the Clerk issued an Entry of Default as to each
defendant. ECF No. 12.
of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure establishes a
two-step process when a party applies for default judgment.
First, the rule provides that “when a party …
has failed to plead or otherwise defend, and that failure is
shown by affidavit or otherwise, the clerk must enter the
party's default.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 55(a). Following the
Clerk's entry of default, “the plaintiff [then may]
seek a default judgment.” Godlove v. Martinsburg
Senior Towers, LP, No. 14-CV-132, 2015 WL 746934, at *1
(N.D. W.Va. Feb. 20, 2015); see Fed. R. Civ. P.
55(b). “The Fourth Circuit has a ‘strong
policy' that ‘cases be decided on their
merits.'” S.E.C. v. Lawbaugh, 359
F.Supp.2d 418, 420 (D. Md. 2005) (citing Dow v.
Jones, 232 F.Supp.2d 491, 494 (D. Md. 2002)). However,
“default judgment may be appropriate when the adversary
process has been halted because of an essentially
unresponsive party.” Id. at 420-22.
determining whether to grant a motion for default judgment,
the Court takes as true the well-pleaded factual allegations
in the complaint, other than those pertaining to damages.
Ryan v. Homecomings Fin. Network, 253 F.3d 778, 780
(4th Cir. 2001). If the Court finds that “liability is
established, [it] must then determine the appropriate amount
of damages.” Agora Fin., LLC v. Samler, 725
F.Supp.2d 491, 484 (citing Ryan, 253 F.3d at
780-81). In order to do so, “the court may conduct an
evidentiary hearing, or may dispense with a hearing if there
is an adequate evidentiary basis in the record from which to
calculate an award.” Mata v. G.O. Contractors Grp.,
Ltd., No. TDC-14-3287, 2015 WL 6674650, at *3 (D. Md.
Oct. 29, 2015); see Fed. R. Civ. P. 55(b).
Plaintiffs' Claims under the FLSA, the MWHL, and the
well-pleaded factual allegations, taken as true, establish
liability under the FLSA, MWHL, and MWPCL. “A violation
of the FLSA and the MWHL occurs when an employer fails to pay
an employee overtime wages-one-and-one-half times the
employees' base wage-for every hour over 40 hours worked
in a week.” Mata, 2015 WL 6674650 at, *4;
see 29 U.S.C. § 207; Lab. & Empl. §
3-415. Here, Plaintiffs have established through their
declarations that the Defendants violated FLSA and MWHL by
failing to compensate the Plaintiffs for any overtime hours
worked. Plaintiffs each assert in their declarations that
they worked an average of 55 hours per week at Environmental.
However, each workweek they only were paid for 40 hours of
work at their respective base wage. Thus, Defendants are
liable to Plaintiffs under the FLSA and the MWHL for unpaid
overtime hours. ...