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.

Portillo v. Intipuqueno Restaurant

United States District Court, D. Maryland

November 8, 2017

MARINA PORTILLO, Plaintiff,
v.
INTIPUQUENO RESTAURANT, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          Paul W. Grimm United States District Judge.

         Plaintiff Marina Portillo claims that she worked for Intipuqueno Restaurant and its owner Telbis Elizabeth Garcia (together, “Intipuqueno”) but was not paid for the overtime hours she regularly worked, did not receive any compensation other than tips, and was not paid “in full at least twice each month.” Compl., ECF No. 1. According to Portillo, her employment ended when she was fired in retaliation for an epileptic seizure that she had while at work. Thereafter, she filed suit against Intipuqueno on December 22, 2015, bringing claims of discrimination in violation of federal, state, and local law, as well as claims of violations of federal and state wage payment laws.[1] Id. Intipuqueno did not answer or otherwise respond, and on December 28, 2016, I granted Portillo's Motion for Default Judgment against Intipuqueno, awarded $154, 710.36 in damages, and allowed Portillo to file a motion for attorney's fees and costs. J. & Order 2-3, ECF No. 9.

         Portillo moved for attorney's fees. ECF No. 11. On February 2, 2017, Intipuqueno responded for the first time in the case, opposing the motion, ECF No. 12, and seeking leave to file a motion to set aside default judgment that had been entered just over one month earlier, ECF No. 13. I granted leave for Intipuqueno to file the motion, and I dismissed the motion for attorney's fees without prejudice to renewal following the resolution of this matter. ECF No. 23.

         Intipuqueno filed the pending Motion to Set Aside Default Judgment on March 16, 2017, asserting that “Garcia speaks little English and believed that her attorney was responding to the pleadings in this matter, ” and “[s]he moved as quickly as possible to obtain [counsel] once she learned of the default judgment.” Defs.' Mot. 4-5, ECF No. 26. Portillo filed an opposition. ECF No. 30. Defendants did not file a reply, and the time for doing so has passed. See Loc. R. 105.2(a). A hearing is not necessary. See Loc. R. 105.6. Because Intipuqueno has presented a meritorious defense and shown excusable neglect in its efforts to respond to Portillo's complaint, I will grant Intipuqueno's Motion and set aside the default judgment.

         Discussion

         There is a “strong policy that cases be decided on their merits.” United States v. Shaffer Equip. Co., 11 F.3d 450, 453 (4th Cir. 1993); see also Offer v. Golden Sands Club Condo., Inc., No. ELH-16-3695, 2017 WL 2335596, at *3 (D. Md. May 26, 2017) (“[T]he Fourth Circuit has repeatedly expressed a strong preference that, as a matter of general policy, ‘default should be avoided and that claims and defenses be disposed of on their merits.'”). Yet, when a party fails to respond to a pleading or otherwise defend, entry of judgment by default may be appropriate. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 55; S.E.C. v. Lawbaugh, 359 F.Supp.2d 418, 421 (D. Md. 2005). After the Court enters a default judgment, the party against whom the judgment was entered may seek relief from the judgment pursuant to Rule 60(b). See Fed. R. Civ. P. 55(c).

         Rule 60(b) provides:

Grounds for Relief from a Final Judgment, Order, or Proceeding. On motion and just terms, the court may relieve a party or its legal representative from a final judgment, order, or proceeding for the following reasons:
(1) mistake, inadvertence, surprise, or excusable neglect;
(2) newly discovered evidence that, with reasonable diligence, could not have been discovered in time to move for a new trial under Rule 59(b);
(3) fraud (whether previously called intrinsic or extrinsic), misrepresentation, or misconduct by an opposing party;
(4) the judgment is void;
(5) the judgment has been satisfied, released or discharged; it is based on an earlier judgment that has been reversed or vacated; or applying it ...

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.