United States District Court, D. Maryland, Southern Division
DIANA C. BERRIOS, Plaintiff,
GREEN WIRELESS, LLC, et al. Defendants.
J. HAZEL UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
pending before the Court is Plaintiff Diana C. Berrios*
Renewed Motion for Default Judgment as to Defendants Green
Wireless. IXC ("Green Wireless") and Michael Pak.
ECF No. 47. The motion arises out of a lawsuit alleging
violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act
("FLSA"), 29 U.S.C. § 201 et seq.,
the Maryland Wage and Hour Law ("MWHL"). Md. Code
Lab. & Empl.. § 3-401 et seq.. and the
Maryland Wage Payment and Collection Law ("MWPCL").
Md. Code. Lab. & Empl.. § 3-501 et .seq. No
hearing is necessary. Loc. R. 105.6 (D. Md. 2016). For the
following reasons. Plaintiffs motion is granted.
complete discussion of the factual and procedural background
of this case can be found in the Court's prior opinions.
See Berrios v. Green Wireless. LLC. No. GJH-14-3655.
2016 WL 1562902 (D. Md. Apr. 18. 2016) (hereinafter.
''''Consent Judgment Opinion").
Berrios r. Green Wireless. LLC. No.
GJH-14-3655. 2016 WL 7451297 (D. Md. Dec. 27. 2016)
(hereinafter. "Attorney's Fees Opinion
"). and Berrios v. Green Wireless. LLC. No.
GJH-14-3655. 2017 WL 2120038 (D. Md. May 15, 2017)
(hereinafter, "Reinstatement Opinion").
Thus, the Court will only discuss the factual and procedural
details necessary to resolve the present motion.
tiled the instant Complaint against her employers Green
Wireless, a cell phone and cell phone plan provider; Michael
Shin, the owner and manager; and Pak. the co-manager. ECF No.
The Complaint alleges that Defendants failed to pay her
overtime wages in violation of the FLSA. MW11I, . and M WPCL.
After Defendants failed to file an Answer to Plaintiffs
Complaint, the Clerk"s Office entered an Order of
Default against Defendant Green Wireless on March 30. 2015
and Defendants Shin and Pak on September 1. 2015.
See ECF Nos. 8. 16. On October 22, 2015. Plaintiff
filed a Motion for Default Judgment against all Defendants.
ECF No. 18. On April 18. 2016. the Court approved a consent
judgment between Plaintiff and Shin. Consent Judgment
Opinion, ECF No. 29. In the same opinion, the Court
stated that "it is unclear whether, in light of the
settlement with Mr. Shin. Plaintiff intends to seek
additional damages from Green Wireless or Mr. Pak."
Id. at *3. Thus, the Court denied Plaintiffs Motion
for Default Judgment as to Defendants Pak and Green Wireless
without prejudice, explaining that Plaintiff "may refile
her motion against the remaining defendants within fourteen
days of the accompanying Order."' Id.
did not refile the motion within that time period. Instead,
in a footnote in her subsequent Motion for Attorney's
Fees against Shin. Plaintiff stated her intention to dismiss
the remaining defendants "if this judgment [against
Defendant Shin], along with any modification for attorney
fees, is fully satisfied." ECF No. 31 at 1. Plaintiff
further stated that "in the event that this judgment is
not paid. Plaintiff intends to prosecute her claims as to the
two remaining defendants." Id.
7. 2016, Plaintiff requested that the Clerk "mark the
judgment of $3, 000.00 as having been paid" but noted
that because Plaintiffs Motion for Attorney's Fees was
still pending, Plaintiffs claim for attorney's fees and
cost had not been satisfied. ECF No. 34.
December 27. 2016. the Court awarded Plaintiff $16.4110.00 in
attorney's fees and costs. Attorney's Fees
Opinion, ECF No. 35. In that same opinion, the Court
dismissed the remaining claims against Defendants Pak and
Green Wireless, noting that "the Plaintiff previously
stated its intent to dismiss the remaining defendants upon
the satisfaction of the judgment awarded against Defendant
Shin . . . [and] (a]s that judgment has been satisfied . . .
the remaining claims are dismissed." Id. On
January 3. 2017. Defendant Shin appealed the
Attorney's Fees Opinion to the United States
Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. ECF No. 37. On May
15. 2017, while the appeal was pending, the Court granted
Plaintiff's Motion to Vacate and Reinstate her previously
dismissed claims against Defendants Pak and Green Wireless
under Fed.R.Civ.P. 59(e). See Reinstatement Opinion.
ECF No. 41. The Court determined that its prior dismissal of
Defendants Pak and Green Wireless was in error because
Plaintiff only intended to dismiss these defendants if the
judgment against Defendant Shin, including any award of
attorney fees, was fully satisfied. Id. at *3.
Because the Attorney's Fees Opinion was pending
appeal, the award had not been satisfied, and the Court
reinstated Plaintiffs claims against Defendants Pak and Green
Wireless. Id. The Court then granted Plaintiff a
stay pending resolution of the appeal. ECF No. 44. but the
Fourth Circuit determined that in light of the
Reinstatement Opinion, the Attorney's Fees
Opinion was no longer a final order and dismissed
Shin's appeal for lack of jurisdiction. See Berrios
v. Shin. 700 Fed.Appx. 222 (4th Cir. 2017) (citing Fed.
R. App. P. 4(a)(4)(B)(i)) (docketed as ECF No. 45-1).
Plaintiffs Renewed Motion for Default Judgment as to
Defendants Pak and Green Wireless, ECF No. 47. followed and
is now pending. Defendants Pak and Green Wireless have not
responded to the Motion.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
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." Fed.R.Civ.P. 55(a).
"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."
Educ. Credit Mgmt. Corp. v. Optimum
Welding. 285 F.R.D. 371. 373 (D. Md. 2012). Although
"[t]he Fourth Circuit has a 'strong policy' that
'cases be decided on their merits.'" Choice
Hotels Intern., Inc. v. Savannah Shakti Corp., No.
DKC-11-0438. 2011 WL 5118328. at *2 (D. Md. Oct. 25. 2011)
(citing United States v. Shaffer Equip. Co.. 11 F.3d
450. 453 (4th Cir. 1993)), "default judgment may be
appropriate when the adversary process has been halted
because of an essentially unresponsive party[.]"
Id. (citing S.E.C. v. Lawbaugh. 359
F.Supp.2d 418, 421 (D. Md. 2005)).
default, the well-pled allegations in a complaint as to
liability are taken as true, although the allegations as to
damages are not." Lawhaugh. 359 F.Supp.2d at
422; see also Ryan v. Homecomings Fin Network. 253
F.3d 778. 780 (4th Cir. 2001) (noting that "[t]he
defendant, by [its] default, admits the plaintiffs
well-pleaded allegations of fact." which provide the
basis for judgment). Upon a finding of liability, "ft]he
court must make an independent determination regarding
damages . . . ." Int 7 Painters &
Allied Trades Indus. Pension Fund v. Capital Restoration
& Painting Co.. 919 F.Supp.2d 680. 684 (D. Md.
2013). Fed.R.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." While the
Court may hold a hearing to prove damages, 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)).
FLSA and MWHL require that any employee who works more than
forty hours in a workweek be paid one-and-one-half times
their regular rate of pay for each additional hour worked.
See FLSA. § 207(a)(1); MWHL § 3-415(a).
Further, the MWPCL requires employers to pay employees all
wages due for work performed, including overtime wages,
see MWPCL § 3-501(c)(2)(iv); see also
Peters v. Early Healthcare Giver. Inc.,97 A.3d 621.
624-25 (Md. 2014 ("Read together, [the MWHL and MWPCL]
allow employees to recover unlawfully withheld wages from
their employer, and provide an employee with two avenues to
do so."). Under the FLSA. an "employer"
includes "any person acting directly or indirectly in
the interest of an employer in relation to an employee."
See FLSA. § 203(d); see also MWHL
§ 3 -401(b) (providing same definition of employer). In
determining individual employer status under the FLSA, courts
consider whether the purported employer had sufficient
operational control of the employee, including whether the
employer: (1) had the power to hire and fire employees: (2)
supervised and controlled employee work schedules or
conditions of employment: (3) determined rates and methods of
payment; and (4) maintained employment records. See
Garcia v. Frog Island Seafood, Inc..644 F.Supp.2d 696.
720-21 (F.D. N.C. 2009). Furthermore, an employee may have
more than one employer for purposes of the FLSA. See
29 C.F.R. § 791.2(a) ...