Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Flores v. Environmental Trust Solutions, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Maryland, Southern Division

September 28, 2016

JUAN FLORES, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
ENVIRONMENTAL TRUST SOLUTIONS, INC., et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          Paul W. Grimm United States District Judge

         Plaintiffs 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 part.

         FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         Defendant 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. ¶ 8.

         Plaintiff 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.

         Plaintiffs 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.

         On that 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.

         DISCUSSION

         I. Legal Standard

         Rule 55 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.

         In 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).

         II. Liability

         A. Plaintiffs' Claims under the FLSA, the MWHL, and the MWPCL

         Plaintiffs' 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. ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.