United States District Court, D. Maryland
Lipton Hollander United States District Judge
January 22, 2018, plaintiff Esdras Nehem Pacheco Henriquez
filed suit against his former employers, Magno Enterprises,
LLC, d/b/a Magnum Flooring (“MF”) and Alessandro
Magno. ECF 1. Pacheco Heriquez asserts wage claims under the
Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”), as amended, 29
U.S.C. § 201 et seq.; the Maryland Wage And
Hour Law (“MWHL”), Md. Code (2016 Repl. Vol.,
2017 Supp.), §§ 3-401 et seq. of the Labor
and Employment Article (“L.E.”); and the Maryland
Wage Payment and Collection Law (“MWPCL”), L.E.
§§ 3-501 et seq. See ECF 1. In particular,
plaintiff seeks compensation for hours he worked as a
flooring installer. Id. ¶ 17.
docket reflects that defendants were served on June 1, 2017,
by personal service on Alessandro Magno. See ECF 4;
ECF 5. Mr. Magno, who is self-represented, answered the suit
on December 1, 2017. ECF 17. However, because parties other
than individuals must be represented by counsel to appear in
this Court, Mr. Magno could not answer on behalf of MF.
See Local Rule 101.1. Therefore, pursuant to a
request by plaintiff (ECF 13), the Clerk entered an Order of
Default as to MF on October 25, 2017. ECF 14.
December 22, 2017, plaintiff filed a Rule 55(b)(2) Motion for
Entry of Default Judgment and Award of Attorneys' Fees
and Costs. ECF 19 (“Motion”). The Motion is
accompanied by the Declaration of Esdras Nehem Pacheco
Henriquez (ECF 19-1, “Plaintiff's
Declaration”), as well as several exhibits in support
of plaintiff's claims for unpaid wages (ECF 19-2 and ECF
19-3). And, the Motion contains an exhibit in support of
plaintiff's requested attorneys' fees. ECF 19-4.
Motion requests that judgment be entered against MF in the
amount of $55, 145.01, plus prejudgment interest; that
plaintiff be awarded attorneys' fees in the amount of $3,
810.00; and that plaintiff be awarded costs in the amount of
$465.00. ECF 19 at 11. MF has not responded to the Motion,
and the time to do so has expired. See Local Rule
hearing is necessary to resolve the Motion. See
Local Rule 105.6. Because I find that the Motion is
premature, I shall deny the Motion, without prejudice.
55(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil procedure governs default
judgments. In particular, Rule 55(b)(1) provides that the
clerk may enter a default judgment if the plaintiff's
claim is “for a sum certain or a sum that can be made
certain by computation.” But, “[a] plaintiff's
assertion of a sum in a complaint does not make the sum
‘certain' unless the plaintiff claims liquidated
damages; otherwise the complaint must be supported by
affidavit or documentary evidence. Monge v. Portofino
Ristorante, 751 F.Supp.2d 789, 794 (D. Md. 2010) (Grimm,
sure, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth
Circuit has a “strong policy that cases be decided on
the merits.” United States v. Shaffer Equip.
Co., 11 F.3d 450, 453 (4th Cir. 1993); see Tazco,
Inc. v. Director, Office of Workers' Compensation
Program, 895 F.2d 949, 950 (4th Cir. 1990). But, that
policy is not absolute. Default judgment “‘is
appropriate when the “adversary process has been halted
because of an essentially unresponsive party.'”
Entrepreneur Media, Inc. v. JMD Entertainment Group,
LLC, 958 F.Supp.2d 588, 593 (D. Md. 2013) (quoting
SEC v. Lawbaugh, 359 F.Supp.2d 418, 421 (D. Md.
the entry of default against a party, the court must
determine whether the undisputed factual allegations
constitute a legitimate cause of action. Id. at
780-81; see also 10A Wright, Miller & Kane,
Federal Practice and Procedure § 2688 (3d ed.
2010 Supp.) (“[L]iability is not deemed established
simply because of the default . . . and the court, in its
discretion, may require some proof of the facts that must be
established in order to determine liability.”).
court is satisfied that liability has been established, it
must then determine the appropriate amount of damages.
Ryan, 253 F.3d at 780-81. Allegations
“relating to the amount of damages” are not
deemed admitted based on a defendant's failure to respond
to a suit. Fed R. Civ. P. 8(b)(6); see Ryan, 253
F.3d at 780 (“‘[D]efault is not treated as an
absolute confession by the defendant of his liability and of
the plaintiff's right to recover'”) (citation
omitted); Monge, 751 F.Supp.2d at 794; Trs. of
the Elec. Welfare Trust Fund v. MH Passa Elec. Contracting,
Inc., DKC-08-2805, 2009 WL 2982951, at *1 (D. Md. Sept.
14, 2009) (“Upon default, the well-pled allegations in
a complaint as to liability are taken as true, although the
allegations as to damages are not.”); Pentech Fin.
Servs., Inc. v. Old Dominion Saw Works, Inc., No.
6:09cv00004, 2009 WL 1872535, at *1 (W.D. Va. June 30, 2009)
(“Upon default judgment, Plaintiff's factual
allegations are accepted as true for all purposes excluding
determination of damages.”).
the court must make an independent determination regarding
allegations as to damages. See Credit Lyonnais Sec.
(USA), Inc. v. Alcantara, 183 F.3d 151, 154 (2d Cir.
1999). In so doing, the court may conduct an evidentiary
hearing. Fed.R.Civ.P. 55(b)(2). However, the court may also
make a determination of damages without a hearing, so long as
there is an adequate evidentiary basis in the record to
support an award of the requested damages. See Adkins v.
Teseo, 180 F.Supp.2d 15, 17 (D.D.C. 2001) (“[T]he
court may rely on detailed affidavits or documentary evidence
to determine the appropriate sum.”); see also
Trustees of the Nat'l Asbestos Workers Pension Fund v.
Ideal Insulation, Inc., ELH-11-832, 2011 WL 5151067, at
*4 (D. Md. Oct. 27, 2011) (determining that, in a case of
default judgment against an employer, “the Court may
award damages without a hearing if the record supports the
damages requested”); Monge, 751 F.Supp.2d at
795 (same); Pentech Fin. Servs., Inc., 2009 WL
1872535, at *2 (concluding that there was “no need to
convene a formal evidentiary hearing on the issue of
damages” after default judgment because plaintiff
submitted affidavits and records establishing the amount of
under Fed.R.Civ.P. 54(c), “[a] default judgment must
not differ in kind from, or exceed in amount, what is
demanded in the pleadings.” See In re Genesys Data
Techs, Inc., 204 F.3d 124, 132 (4th Cir. 2000)
(“When a Complaint demands a specific amount of
damages, courts have generally held that a default judgment
cannot award additional damages.”). This is meant to
enable the defendant to decide whether to expend the
resources to defend the action. Monge, 751 F.Supp.2d