United States District Court, D. Maryland
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND AMENDED ORDER
Xinis, United States District Judge.
the Court is the Supplemental Submission to the Motion for
Entry of Default Judgment filed by Plaintiffs Jose Jamie
Barrera, Manuel Jesus Gomez, Jacquelinne Moreno Ramirez,
Emilia Margarita Martinez, and Esteban E. Gomez
(“Plaintiffs”) pursuant to this Court's
January 3, 2018, Memorandum Opinion and Order. ECF No. 10.
The Court incorporates into this Opinion its previous
Memorandum Opinion and Order granting Plaintiffs' request
for default judgment as to liability. ECF No. 9. In order to
determine damages, the Court requested supplemental
information regarding: (1) Plaintiff Barrera's unpaid
overtime wages, (2) enhanced damages, and (3) the calculation
of reasonable attorneys' fees and costs. Plaintiffs'
supplemental briefing has been submitted, and the Court now
rules pursuant to Local Rule 105.6 because no hearing is
necessary. For the reasons stated herein, Plaintiffs'
Motion for Entry of Default Judgment is GRANTED IN PART and
DENIED IN PART.
the Court determined that Plaintiffs met their burden under
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 55(b) to demonstrate
liability for violations of the Maryland Wage Payment and
Collection Law (“MWPCL”), the Fair Labor
Standards ACT (“FLSA”), and the Maryland Wage and
Hour Law (“MWHL”) by Defendants J&L
Maintenance, LLC and John F. Lynch. ECF No. 9 at 3-5. The
Court further determined that the sums requested as a
reflection of unpaid straight-time wages owed to Plaintiffs
had been demonstrated adequately under the Rule. ECF No. 9 at
5. However, the Court found that Plaintiffs had not provided
the information necessary to “ma[ke] certain by
computation” Barrera's claimed overtime wages,
enhanced damages, or attorneys' fees. See Fed.
R. Civ. P. 55(b)(1); ECF No. 9 at 5-7. The Court thus
requested additional information from Plaintiffs as to these
aspects of their damage claims. See ECF No. 9 at 8.
The Court discusses each in turn.
Barrera's Unpaid Overtime
Court requested supplemental information from Plaintiffs
regarding Barrera's unpaid overtime wages, specifically,
(1) the occasions on which and number of hours Barrera worked
overtime, and (2) the method for determining from
Barrera's bi-weekly pay the amount he is owed for the
overtime hours worked. ECF No. 9 at 6. When accounting for
unpaid wages, it is sufficient that a plaintiff outlines in
an affidavit his “hourly wage, the number of hours for
which [he] was not paid [his] regular salary, and the number
of hours for which [he] was not paid overtime.” See
Monge v. Portofino Ristorante, 751 F.Supp.2d 789, 797
(D. Md. 2010).
has not submitted any supplemental evidence in the form of
affidavits or other documentation. Rather, Plaintiffs give
the Court a “chart” purporting to reflect that he
worked “between fifty-five . . . and sixty-six”
hours per week. The chart, however, does not allow the Court
to calculate Barrera's effective wage, most basically
because the chart is not supported by any evidence submitted
to the Court. See ECF No. 10-1 at 2-3. Although
Plaintiffs note that the hours per week worked by Barrera
varied depending on the number of days he worked in a given
week, no admissible evidence supports how many hours Barrera
in fact worked in any given week, let alone sufficient
documentation to underlie the chart provided. Nor is a range
of 55 to 66 hours per week an average that would
permit the Court to ascertain by computation either
Barrera's effective hourly wage or an amount owed for
overtime each week. Because the Court has not been given any
evidence by which to support an award of unpaid overtime
wages, this request is denied.
Court also requested supplemental briefing from Plaintiffs to
explain why they believe they are entitled to treble damages
under the MWPCL instead of double damages under FLSA or MWHL,
and to address how the requested enhanced damages would avoid
an impermissible double payment. ECF No. 8 at 7. Plaintiffs
are “entitled to recover liquidated damages under the
FLSA or treble damages under the Maryland Wage Payment and
Collection Law, but not both.” Quiroz v. Wilhelm
Commercial Builders, Inc., No. WGC-10-2016, 2011 WL
5826677, at *3 (D. Md. Nov. 17, 2011). The Court may award an
amount not exceeding three times the unpaid wage if the
employer's violation of the MWPCL is not the result of a
bona fide dispute about whether the wages are due. Maryland
Code, Labor & Employment Art. § 3- 507.1(b). A bona
fide dispute “may be found where the employer advances
an objectively reasonable defense to the MWPCL claim.”
Lopez v. Lawns ‘R' Us, Civil No. DKC
07-2979, 2008 WL 2227353, at *4 (D. Md. May 23, 2008).
Ultimately, an award of treble damages is made at the
discretion of the fact-finder. Admiral Mortg., Inc. v.
Cooper, 357 Md. 533, 549-50 (2000).
cite Marroquin v. Canales, 505 F.Supp.2d 283, 298
(D. Md. 2007), to argue that no bona fide dispute exists
regarding Plaintiffs' wages because Defendants have
failed to provide any employment documentation as required by
Maryland law. See ECF No. 10 at 4. This argument is
not persuasive in the context of this case. In
Marroquin, the plaintiff submitted evidence
sufficient to meet his initial burden of production regarding
the lack of any bona fide dispute, in the form both of
contemporaneously kept records and expert testimony. 505
F.Supp.2d at 297-98. Because the plaintiff satisfied this
initial evidentiary burden, the burden then shifted to the
defendants to come forward with evidence of the actual hours
the plaintiffs worked or other evidence to show a bona fide
dispute, which they did not do. In this context, the
Marroquin court aptly determined that no bona fide
dispute existed as to the claimed wages. Id.
contrast, Plaintiffs here have not satisfied their initial
burden. Where a plaintiff does not offer any evidence of a
lack of bona fide dispute or consequential damages suffered
as a result of underpayments, double damages for unpaid wages
rather than treble damages are warranted. See Lopez,
2008 WL 2227353, at *4. Defendants' failure to
participate in this litigation does not amount to a
“tacit admission” of a lack of a bona fide
dispute where Plaintiff Barrera cannot demonstrate with
competent evidence the amount of unpaid overtime wages.
See ECF No. 10 at 4. Plaintiffs' claim for
treble damages is thus denied. Plaintiffs instead will be
awarded double damages as permitted under the FLSA. The Court
will calculate enhanced damages on the basis of straight
wages as discussed in the Court's prior opinion.
See ECF No. 9 at 5. The total amount of straight
time wages owed to Plaintiffs, as detailed in the Court's
prior opinion, is $3546 ($1400 owed to Barrera, $370 to
Manuel Jesus Gomez, and $592 each to Ramirez, Martinez, and
Esteban E. Gomez). Plaintiffs thus are entitled to damages
totaling $7092. Judgment will be entered accordingly.
Reasonable Attorneys' Fees and Costs
Court further requested supplemental information to support
requested attorneys' fees for Pamela Pacheo and Natalia Prado
as well as additional information supporting Jonathan F.
Lieberman's length of admission to the bar, for which
conflicting information initially was given. ECF No. 9 at 7.
Plaintiffs have satisfied this Court's request for
counsel requests a total of $3, 058.00 in attorneys' fees
and costs. ECF No. 8-6 at 3. In light of the submitted
supplemental evidence, the Court can determine whether this
request is reasonable ...