United States District Court, D. Maryland
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
XINIS, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
1, 2016, Plaintiffs Jose Jaime Barrera, Manuel Jesus Gomez,
Jacquelinne Moreno Ramirez, Emilia Margarita Martinez, and
Esteban E. Gomez filed a complaint against J&L
Maintenance, LLC (“J&L”) and John F. Lynch in
the above-captioned matter. ECF No. 1. Summonses were served
on Defendants on August 2, 2016. See ECF No. 7. On
November 7, 2016, Plaintiffs moved for entry of default
against Defendants pursuant to Rule 55(a) of the Federal
Rules of Civil Procedure. ECF No. 6. The Clerk entered
default on May 3, 2017. ECF No. 7. Plaintiffs have moved for
default judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
55(b). ECF No. 8. Defendants have not filed a response, and
the time for doing so has passed. See Loc. R.
105.2.a. Pursuant to Local Rule 105.6, a hearing is not
necessary. For the reasons stated herein, Plaintiffs'
Motion for Judgment by Default is GRANTED IN PART and DENIED
IN PART without prejudice and with permission to supplement.
Lynch owns Defendant J&L, a Maryland corporation. ECF No.
1 at ¶¶ 4, 5. Plaintiffs were employed by
Defendants as laborers. ECF No. 1 ¶ 17. In their
Complaint, Plaintiffs allege that Defendants failed to pay
each Plaintiff fully for the time they worked. ECF No. 1
¶¶ 20-22, 25-26, 29-30, 33-34, 37-39. They bring
claims under the Maryland Wage Payment and Collection Law
(“MWPCL”) (Count I), the Fair Labor Standards Act
(“FLSA”) (Count II), and the Maryland Wage and
Hour Law (“MWHL”) (Count III). Plaintiffs request
that judgment be entered in their favor on each count, and
that compensatory and statutory damages, as well as
reasonable attorneys' fees and costs, be awarded to them.
ECF No. 8 at 1.
Rule of Civil Procedure 55(b) provides that default judgment
may be entered “[i]f the plaintiff's claim is for a
sum certain or a sum that can be made certain by
computation” and the defendant is in default for
failing to appear. Fed.R.Civ.P. 55(b)(1). The entry of
default judgment is a matter within the discretion of the
Court. SEC v. Lawbaugh, 359 F.Supp.2d 418, 421 (D.
Md. 2005) (citing Dow v. Jones, 232 F.Supp.2d 491,
494 (D. Md. 2002)).
“the Fourth Circuit has a ‘strong policy that
cases be decided on the merits, '” Disney
Enters. v. Delane, 446 F.Supp.2d 402, 405 (D. Md. 2006)
(quoting United States v. Shaffer Equip. Co., 11
F.3d 450, 453 (4th Cir. 1993)), it is within the Court's
discretion to grant default judgment when a defendant is
unresponsive, see Park Corp. v. Lexington Ins. Co.,
812 F.2d 894, 896 (4th Cir. 1987); Disney Enters.,
446 F.Supp.2d at 405-06. To determine whether a default
judgment is appropriate, the Court engages in a two-step
inquiry. First, the Court must decide “whether the
unchallenged facts in plaintiff['s] complaint constitute
a legitimate cause of action.” Agora Fin., LLC v.
Samler, 725 F.Supp.2d 491, 494 (D. Md. 2010). Second, if
the Court finds liability is established, it must “make
an independent determination regarding the appropriate amount
of damages.” Id. The Court may hold a hearing
to determine damages, or it may rely on detailed affidavits
or other documentary evidence in support of a plaintiff's
claimed damages. Lipenga v. Kambalame, 219 F.Supp.3d
517, 525 (D. Md. 2016).
each were served with the Complaint on August 2, 2016, and
did not respond. See ECF No. 7. Defendants also did
not respond to Plaintiffs' motion for entry of default
judgment, nor did Defendants move to set aside the Order of
Default entered by the Clerk of the Court. The Court will
exercise its discretion to grant default judgment in light of
Defendants' failure to respond. See Educ. Credit
Mgmt. Corp. v. Optimum Welding, 285 F.R.D. 371, 373 (D.
reviewing a request for a default judgment, the Court accepts
as true the well-pleaded factual allegations in the complaint
to determine whether the allegations make out a legitimate
cause of action. Ryan v. Homecomings Fin. Network,
253 F.3d 778, 780-81 (4th Cir. 2001). Plaintiffs'
Complaint, accepted as true, establishes entitlement to
relief under the MWPL, the FLSA, and the MWHL.
Defendants as Employers
FLSA defines “employer” broadly to include
“any person acting directly or indirectly in the
interest of an employer in relation to an employee, ”
29 U.S.C. § 203(d), and defines “employ” to
“include to suffer or permit to work, ”
id. § 203(g). The MWHL provides a similarly
broad definition for the term “employer.”
See Md. Code Ann., Lab. & Empl., §3-401.
The MWHL defines “employ” as the act of
“engag[ing] an individual to work.” Id.
§3-101. The MWPCL defines “employer” as
“any person who employs an individual in the State,
” Md. Code Ann., Lab. & Empl. § 3-501(b), and
defines “employ” to incude “allowing an
individual to work” and “instructing an
individual to be present at a work site, ” id.
§ 3-101(c)(2). The material pleaded by Plaintiffs
includes specific factual allegations to make out that
J&L and Lynch are “employers” within the
meaning of the statutes and that both Defendants may be held
liable under the relevant laws. See ECF No. 1
¶¶ 4-16. Plaintiffs also plead facts that support
their periods of employment with Defendants, and that they
each were not compensated either at all or in full for
certain periods of time worked. See ECF No. 1