United States District Court, D. Maryland
J. MESSITTE UNTTED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Hawkins has sued MV Transportation, Inc. (MV Transportation),
alleging sex discrimination in employment in violation of
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e,
el seq.. She filed her complaint (ECF No. 1),
pro se. on July 24, 2015. After a number of problems
with service of process, Hawkins filed a Return of Summons on
June 10, 2016. showing service of the summons (and presumably
the Complaint) on the Corporate Trust Company, registered
agent for MV Transportation. The Court independently
confirmed that the Corporate Trust Company is the registered
agent for MV Transportation, and that it had in fact received
the summons and forwarded it to their principal. However, MV
Transportation did not answer or enter an appearance in the
case. Accordingly, the Clerk of the Court entered a Default
in favor of Hawkins. Hawkins has now filed a Motion for
Default Judgment (ECF No. 22), seeking $24, 240 in back pay
and compensatory damages, as well as $300, 000 in punitive
following reasons, Hawkins' Motion for Default Judgment
(ECF No. 22) is GRANTED IN PART and REVISED IN PART, limiting
the amount of damages she requests.
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
began her employment with MV Transportation in November 2005.
Aff. of Hawkins, ECF No. 22-1. As of March 2012, Hawkins
served as a Lead Road Supervisor, at a salary of $19 per hour
over a forty hour week, plus benefits including four weeks of
paid vacation per year. Id. In 2012, Hawkins began
working for a new supervisor, Dwayne Hendricks. Id.
At the time Hendricks became Hawkins' supervisor, there
were five other Lead Road Supervisors, all of whom were male.
Compl., Attachment 1. ECF No. 1-1. Aff. of Hawkins. Hawkins
had the second most seniority of the six. Aff. of Hawkins.
alleges that Hendricks treated her differently from the other
Lead Road Supervisors solely because of her sex. He treated
her as if she were of a lower job position than she in fact
was. Compl., Attachment 1. Aff. of Hawkins. For example,
whenever Hawkins was assigned to the same shift with another
Lead Road Supervisor (i.e., a male colleague), the male
colleague was always placed in charge. Compl., Attachment 1.
Conversely, when Hendricks assigned two males to the same
shift, he would place the male with more seniority in charge.
Aff. of Hawkins. Hendricks also required Hawkins to travel a
great distance to pick up her work vehicle, while at the same
time he allowed her male colleagues to pick up their work
vehicles close to their homes. Compl., Attachment 1. Aff. of
Hawkins. Additionally. Hendricks never scheduled Hawkins to
the same shift as Road Supervisors (i.e., those employees she
would be responsible for supervising). Compl., Attachment 1.
Aff of Hawkins. In contrast, her male counterparts would
often be charged with supervising four to six Road
Supervisors. Compl.. Attachment 1. Aff. of Hawkins.
this mistreatment on the basis of her sex, Hawkins made
several complaints to Hendricks. Aff. of Hawkins. All of
these complaints were ignored, and Hendricks dismissed her
concerns and acted maliciously toward her as a result.
year of alleged mistreatment, Hawkins brought her concerns to
MV Transportation's Human Resources Department, which did
nothing to alleviate the situation. Id.
March 17, 2013, Hawkins claims she was constructively
discharged from her position at MV Transportation, being
unable to continue in the discriminatory work environment.
Compl., Attachment 1. Aff. of Hawkins. For approximately two
weeks thereafter, Hawkins was unemployed. Aff. of Hawkins. In
April of 2013, Hawkins secured employment at First Transit in
Capital Heights, Maryland. Id. However, she had to
take a position as Road Supervisor rather than Lead Road
Supervisor. Id. Accordingly, her salary was $17 per
hour (as compared to $19 per hour at MV Transportation) and
she was entitled to only two weeks of paid vacation per year
(as compared to four weeks per year at MV Transportation).
filed a charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment
Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in 2014. Compl., Attachment 2,
ECF No. 1-2. The EEOC investigated her charge and concluded
that Title VII had not been violated. Id. On April
24. 2015, the EEOC issued Hawkins a right to sue letter
giving her 90 days from the date she received the letter to
file suit in federal court. Compl., Attachment 4, ECF No.
24, 2015, Hawkins, pro sef filed a
Complaint in this Court raising the same allegations that she
made before the EEOC. ECF No. 1. She seeks monetary damages
in the amount of $300, 000. Id. at 4.
number of problems with service of process, Hawkins filed a
Return of Summons on June 10. 2016. ECF No. 16. According to
the Return, the Summons was served personalty on June 9. 2016
on Matthew Bartynski of the Corporate Trust Company, MV
Transportation's Resident Agent. Id. MV
Transportation failed to file an answer within 20 days and
has not done so since. Just to verify, the Court called MV
Transportation's Resident Agent and spoke to a
representative in the Service of Process department who
confirmed that Corporation Trust had received the Complaint
and Summons and forwarded it to MV Transportation. The Court
then attempted to phone MV Transportation at the location
listed in Hawkins' Complaint, but there was no answer.
The Court also called other MV Transportation offices in the
United States and spoke with an employee at one franchise who
suggested that all Maryland locations may no longer be in
operation. The Court then obtained the name and telephone
number of the General Manager of MV Transportation's
Baltimore location and left multiple voicemails that he
should contact the Court, but never received a response.
August 12, 2016, the Court sent a letter to Hawkins,
informing her that she might be entitled to seek default
judgment and instructing her to advise the Court if she would
like for the Court to appoint an attorney to assist her with
this process. Hawkins requested that the Court appoint an
attorney to assist her (ECF No. 17) and the Court appointed
Jeremy R. Feldman, Esquire, as counsel (ECF No. 18). Hawkins,
through Feldman, subsequently filed a Motion for Clerk's
Entry of Default (ECF No. 20). The Clerk of the Court entered
a Default in favor of Hawkins on November 4, 2016 (ECF No.
21), and Hawkins filed a Motion for Default Judgment (ECF No.
22) on March 21. 2017, seeking $24, 240 in back pay and
compensatory damages as well as $300, 000 in punitive
to Fed.R.Civ.P. 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." A defendant's default does not
automatically entitle the plaintiff to entry of a default
judgment; rather, that decision is left to the discretion of
the court. See Baltimore Line Handling Co. v. Brophy.
Ill. F.Supp.2d 531, 540 (D. Md. 2011). The Fourth
Circuit has a "strong policy that cases be decided on
the merits." United States v. Shaffer Equip.
Co., 11 F.3d 450, 462 (4th Cir. 1993). Nevertheless,
default judgment may be appropriate where 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) (citing
Jackson v. Beech. 636 F.2d 831, 836 (D.C. Cir.
Court takes as true the well-pleaded factual allegations in
the Complaint as to liability, but not as to damages. See
Ryan v. Homecomings Fin. Network, 253 F.3d 778, 780 (4th
Cir. 2001). In order to determine the appropriate damage
award, the court may hold a hearing to prove damages, but 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)); see also Laborers' Dist. Council
Pension v. E.G.S., Inc., Civ. No. 09-3174, 2010 WL
1568595, at *3 (D. Md. Apr. 16, 2010) ("[O]n default
judgment, the Court may only award damages without a hearing
if the record supports the damages requested.");
DirecTV Inc. v. Yancey, 2005 WL 3435030, at *2 (W.D.
Va. Dec. 12, 2005) (concluding that plaintiff "presented
sufficient evidence to support its claim for damages, costs
and fees by way of uncontradicted affidavits").
Civ. P. 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, the plaintiff is
limited to entry of a default judgment in that amount.
"When a complaint demands a specific amount of damages,
courts have generally held that a default judgment cannot
award additional damages . . . because the defendant could