United States District Court, D. Maryland
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Xinis, United States District Judge
Memorandum Opinion and Order address the final phase of
Plaintiff Ruben Vasquez-Padilla's Motion for Default
Judgment, assessment of damages. ECF No. 19. On April 3,
2018, default judgment as to Defendants' liability was
granted to Vasquez-Padilla, and a hearing on damages was held
on May 15, 2018. For the reasons stated herein,
Vasquez-Padilla is awarded $127, 138.10 in damages.
Ruben Vasquez-Padilla (“Vasquez-Padilla”) is a
citizen of the State of Delaware employed in landscaping. ECF
No. 12 at ¶ 4; Pl. Ex. 10. Defendants Medco Properties,
LLC (“Medco”) and Potomac Foods Company-II, Inc.
(“PFC”) are both Maryland based companies with
their principal place of business in Maryland. ECF No. 12. at
¶ 5-6. At all times relevant to this case, Medco was the
owner and/or operator, along with its agent, Defendant PFC,
of the Golden Corral, located at 301 E. Naylor Mill Road,
Salisbury, Maryland. Id. at ¶ 6.
filed his Complaint with this Court on November 18, 2016,
alleging that he suffered physical and emotional injuries as
a result of slipping and falling on Defendants' property.
Defendants did not answer the Complaint or otherwise respond,
and on April 5, 2017, the Clerk issued an Order of Default
pursuant to Rule 55(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure. ECF No. 9. After several pleadings related to
default judgment (and thus several additional opportunities
for the Defendants to participate in this litigation), the
Court entered default judgment as to Defendants'
liability for negligence on April 3, 2018. ECF Nos. 19 &
20. A hearing to determine Vasquez-Padilla's damages was
held on May 15, 2018. ECF No. 23.
FACTS ESTABLISHED AT HEARING
following facts were established at the damages hearing. On
February 16, 2014, at approximately 9:30 a.m.,
Vasquez-Padilla parked his car in the parking lot of the
Golden Corral and began walking toward the restaurant. The
temperature was just above freezing and dry, and numerous
other cars were parked in the parking lot. Id. at
¶¶ 8, 10. Although Vasquez-Padilla
“maintain[ed] a proper and vigilant outlook, ” he
slipped on ice and fell to the ground and was injured. ECF
No. 12 at ¶¶ 8-11. Vasquez-Padilla suffered a
serious injury to his left knee, resulting in immediate and
persistent intense pain and swelling. See Pl.'s
Ex. 1. For well over a week, Vasquez-Padilla suffered
swelling and pain in his left knee which did not subside.
Accordingly, Vasquez-Padilla sought medical attention at
Wilmington Hospital. Pl.'s Ex. 2. Vasquez-Padilla was
given a brace to stabilize his knee, and referred to seek
further treatment at Christiana Care, where x-rays were
performed. Pl. Ex's 1 & 4. After reviewing
Vasquez-Padilla's x-rays, Christiana Care recommended
that Vasquez-Padilla consult with an orthopedic doctor
“as soon as possible, ” and to “[r]eturn to
the ER if symptoms worsen.” Pl. Ex. 4.
several weeks of persistent and acute pain that largely made
his work in landscaping impossible, Vasquez-Padilla was seen
by doctors at First State Orthopedics on April 1, 2014. Pl.
Ex. 5. Vasquez-Padilla's knee was aspirated and injected
with a local anesthetic and Kenalog, a corticosteroid used to
treat inflammation in the body. Id. He was directed
to refrain from work and rest his knee. Id. A
follow-up appointment was scheduled for June to assess if
surgery was necessary. Id. Around this time,
Vasquez-Padilla was fired from his job as a landscaper at
Forever Green Landscaping because his injury left him unable
to work a full workweek. See Pl. Ex. 10. He was then
hired by First Impressions Landscaping. Id.
weeks passed, and Vasquez-Padilla's symptoms showed
little to no improvement. First State Orthopedics ordered an
MRI of Vasquez-Padilla's injury, which revealed a
“tear of the medial meniscus” and “a
tremendous amount of marrow edema on the weight bearing
surface of the medial femoral condyle.” Pl. Ex. 5. An
arthroscopy of the left knee was thus recommended and
scheduled for the end of July. Id.
June and July, Vasquez-Padilla attempted to work, but because
of his knee injury, he could only perform the physical labor
required of his job for twenty (20) hours per week.
Consequently, First Impressions Landscaping terminated
Vasquez-Padilla. See Pl. Ex. 10.
29, 2014, First State Orthopedics successfully completed an
arthroscopic procedure on Vasquez-Padilla's left knee.
Id.; see also Pl. Exhs. 8 & 9. He was
ordered to rest for around three weeks following the surgery.
On August 11, Vasquez-Padilla was permitted to return to work
on “modified duty, ” and at or around August 24,
Vasquez-Padilla returned to work full-time. Pl. Ex. 5. Even
after returning to work and through today, Vasquez-Padilla
continues to experience pain and stiffness while playing with
his daughter and working.
entry of default judgment, the well-pleaded factual
allegations of the complaint regarding liability are deemed
admitted, in contrast to the allegations regarding damages.
SEC v. Lawbaugh, 359 F.Supp.2d 418, 422 (D.
Md.2005); Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(b)(6) (a defaulting party is deemed
to admit factual allegations of the plaintiff's complaint
“other than [those] relating to the amount of
damages”). Before awarding damages, the court must
consider evidence presented in support. “Where the
amount ... is uncertain, the court is required to make an
independent determination of the sum to be awarded.”
J & J Sports Prods. v. Melgar, No. PJM 11-3339,
2012 WL 1852270 (D. Md. May 15, 2012) (citations and
quotation marks omitted).