United States District Court, D. Maryland
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
Timothy J. Sullivan United States Magistrate Judge
Report and Recommendation addresses the Motion for Entry of
Default Judgment (“Motion”) (ECF No. 6) filed by
Plaintiffs Wilmer Matamoros, et al. Defendant
E-Z-Erectors, Inc. has not filed a response, and the time for
doing so has passed. See Loc. R. 105.2(a). On
January 31, 2017, in accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 636 and
Local Rule 301, Judge Chuang referred this case to me for a
report and recommendation on Plaintiffs' Motion. (ECF No.
7.) I find that a hearing is unnecessary in this case.
See Fed. R. Civ. P. 55(b)(2); Loc. R. 105.6. For the
reasons set forth below, I respectfully recommend that
Plaintiffs' Motion be granted in part and denied in part.
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
case, the Plaintiffs filed suit against Defendant under the
Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”), 29 U.S.C.
§ 201 et seq. (ECF No. 1.) Defendant was
personally served with the complaint and summons but did not
file an answer or responsive pleading within the requisite
time period. On December 16, 2015, Plaintiffs moved for the
Clerk's entry of default (ECF No. 4), and the Clerk
entered default against Defendant on December 17, 2015 (ECF
No. 5). On September 6, 2016, Plaintiffs filed the Motion, to
which Defendant has not responded. (See ECF No.
Standard for Entry of Default Judgment
determining whether to award a default judgment, the Court
accepts as true the well-pleaded factual allegations in the
complaint as to liability. See Ryan v. Homecomings Fin.
Network, 253 F.3d 778, 780-81 (4th Cir. 2001);
United States ex rel. Durrett-Sheppard Steel Co. v. SEF
Stainless Steel, Inc., No. RDB-11-2410, 2012 WL 2446151,
at *1 (D. Md. June 26, 2012). Nonetheless, the Court must
consider whether the unchallenged facts constitute a
legitimate cause of action, since a party in default does not
admit mere conclusions of law. United States v.
Redden, No. WDQ-09-2688, 2010 WL 2651607, at *2 (D. Md.
June 30, 2012) (citing Ryan, 253 F.3d at 790).
Although the Fourth Circuit has a “strong policy that
cases be decided on the merits, ” United States v.
Shaffer Equip. Co., 11 F.3d 450, 453 (4th Cir. 1993),
default judgment “is appropriate when the adversary
process has been halted because of an essentially
unresponsive party.” S.E.C. v. Lawbaugh, 359
F.Supp.2d 418, 421 (D. Md. 2005). If the Court determines
that liability is established, the Court must then determine
the appropriate amount of damages. CGI Finance, Inc., v.
Johnson, No. ELH-12-1985, 2013 WL 1192353, at *1 (D. Md.
March 21, 2013). The Court does not accept factual
allegations regarding damages as true, but rather must make
an independent determination regarding such allegations.
Durrett-Sheppard Steel Co., 2012 WL 2446151 at *1.
of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that
“[i]f, after entry of default, the Plaintiff's
Complaint does not specify a ‘sum certain' amount
of damages, the court may enter a default judgment against
the defendant pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 55(b)(2).” A
plaintiff's assertion of a sum in a complaint does not
make the sum “certain” unless the plaintiff
claims liquidated damages; otherwise, the complaint must be
supported by affidavit or documentary evidence. United
States v. Redden, No. WDQ-09-2688, 2010 WL 2651607, at
*2 (D. Md. June 30, 2012). Rule 55(b)(2) provides that
“the court may conduct hearings or make referrals . . .
when, to enter or effectuate judgment, it needs to . . .
determine the amount of damages.” The Court is not
required to conduct an evidentiary hearing to determine
damages, however; it may rely instead on affidavits or
documentary evidence in the record to determine the
appropriate sum. See, e.g., Mongue v. Portofino
Ristorante, 751 F.Supp.2d 789, 795 (D. Md. 2010).
the FLSA, an employer must pay an employee overtime pay for
each hour worked in excess of forty hours per week. 29 U.S.C.
§ 207(a). An employee's overtime rate must be at
least “one and one-half times the regular rate at which
he is employed.” Id. An employer must keep
records of its employees' wages and hours. 29 U.S.C.
§ 211(c); 29 C.F.R. §§ 516.2, 516.5, 516.6. If
an employer does not keep records or fails to produce them in
litigation, “an employee has carried out his burden if
he proves that he has in fact performed work for which he was
improperly compensated and if he produces sufficient evidence
to show the amount and extent of that work as a matter of
just and reasonable inference.” McLaughlin v.
Murphy, 436 F.Supp.2d 732, 737 (D. Md. 2005) (quoting
Anderson v. Mt. Clemens Pottery Co., 328 U.S. 680,
686-687 (1946)). Employees do not have to “prove each
hour of overtime work with unerring accuracy or
certainty.” Pforr v. Food Lion, Inc., 851 F.2d
106, 108 (4th Cir. 1988)
the allegations of Plaintiffs' complaint as true,
Defendant's liability is readily established. Defendant
employed Plaintiffs as hourly employees to perform work for
Defendant in Maryland, Iowa, Indiana, and other states, from
at least July 2012 through the time that Plaintiffs'
complaint was filed. (ECF No. 1 ¶ 6.) Plaintiffs
regularly worked more than forty hours per week, but
Defendant did not pay Plaintiffs overtime wages at the rate
required by the FLSA. (Id. ¶¶13-15.)
Having shown that Defendant did not comply with its overtime
obligations under the FLSA, Plaintiffs have established
Defendant's liability. Accordingly, I conclude that
Plaintiffs have stated a legitimate cause of action and are
entitled to relief on their claim. I recommend that the Court
grant Plaintiffs' motion with respect to Defendant's
determined that Plaintiffs have established Defendant's
liability, it is now appropriate to determine the damages to
which they are entitled. Generally, an evidentiary hearing is
required to determine an award of damages, even in the case
of a defendant's default. See Laborers' Dist.
Council Pension v. E.G.S., Inc., No. WDQ-09-3174, 2010
WL 1568595 (D. Md. Apr. 16, 2010). However, the Court may
award damages “if the record supports the damages
requested.” Id. at *3 (collecting cases).
Here, Plaintiffs have provided sufficient evidence to support
their claim for damages in the amount of $67,
have submitted affidavits in support of their claim for
damages. (ECF Nos. 6-3; 6-4; 6-5). In addition, each of the
plaintiffs' unpaid overtime wages are summarized in the
spreadsheets attached to the motion and to Plaintiffs'
supplement. (See ECF Nos. 6-6 & 10-1 at 2-4.)
The spreadsheets summarize the overtime hours worked by each
plaintiff, the hourly rate and corresponding overtime rate,
and the total unpaid overtime. The spreadsheets initially
submitted by Plaintiffs are somewhat inconsistent with the
affidavits attached to the motion. Most notably, the original
spreadsheets include overtime hours for a period of six weeks
during which none of the plaintiffs performed work for
Defendant. (See ECF Nos. 6-3 at 3; 6-4 at 3; 6-5 at
3.) The Court directed Plaintiffs to supplement their motion
to explain this inconsistency. (ECF No. 8.) Plaintiffs filed
revised spreadsheets that did not include any claim for
overtime wages during these six weeks, thus resolving the
previous inconsistency. (See ECF No. 10-1 at 2-4.) I