United States District Court, D. Maryland
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
W. Grimm United States District Judge.
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
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.
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.
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.
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).
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 ...