United States District Court, D. Maryland
Paula Xinis, United States District Judge.
before the Court is Plaintiff Edin Guzman's motion for
default judgment. ECF No. 21. Defendants Masoud Mahjoub,
Matthew Mahjoub and SHAAD, LLC (collectively,
“Defendants”) have not responded, and the time
for doing so has passed. See Loc. R. 105.2. Pursuant
to Local Rule 105.6, a hearing is not necessary. For the
following reasons, Plaintiff's motion for default
judgment is GRANTED IN PART and DENIED IN PART.
Mahjoub and his son Matthew Mahjoub are the “owners and
members” of SHAAD, LLC, a Maryland limited liability
company formed “for the operation of a restaurant,
” Matt's House of Kabob. ECF No. 11 ¶ 4;
see also ECF No. 21-2 ¶ 2. Plaintiff Edin
Guzman worked at Defendants' restaurant as a
“non-exempt kitchen employee” for several years
until April 28, 2017. ECF No. 11 ¶ 7.
his employment, Guzman estimates he worked 60 hours or more
each week. Id. Guzman earned $9 per hour
until approximately December 31, 2015, when his pay increased
to $11 per hour. Id. ¶ 13. Guzman avers that
Defendants paid him by check for 40 hours of regular pay per
week, but paid Guzman in cash for any overtime work.
Id. ¶ 14. Rather than the requisite “time
and a half” pay for overtime, Defendants continued to
pay Guzman at the base hourly rate for work exceeding 40
hours. Id. As a result, Guzman asserts that he was
deprived of full compensation for overtime work throughout
his employment. Id. ¶¶ 16-17. Moreover,
for the last two weeks of his work at the restaurant in April
of 2017, Guzman asserts he was not paid at all. Id.
filed suit against Masoud Mahjoub and SHAAD, LLC on June 9,
2017. See ECF No. 1. After the Defendants were
properly served and failed to respond, Guzman moved for entry
of default, which the Clerk entered on December 12, 2017.
See ECF Nos 3, 10. On August 30, 2017, Matthew
Mahjoub informed the Court in writing that “the correct
action would be for the lawsuit to be against me . . . since
I am the owner of Shaad LLC.” ECF No. 6. Guzman amended
his Complaint to include Defendant Matthew Mahjoub.
See ECF No. 11. After Matthew Mahjoub was served and
failed to timely respond, Guzman moved for Clerk's entry
of default pursuant to Rule 55(a) of the Federal Rules of
Civil Procedure, which was entered on October 24, 2018.
See ECF Nos. 17, 18.
Guzman moves for Default Judgment under Rule 55(b) for the
Defendants' violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act
(“FLSA”); the Maryland Wage and Hour Law
(“MWHL”); and the Maryland Wage Payment and
Collection Law (“MWPCL”).  ECF No. 11
¶¶ 29, 35, 42. As relief, Guzman asks this Court to
award damages for unpaid regular and overtime wages, enhanced
damages, and attorneys' fees and costs under the three
statutes. ECF No. 21 ¶¶ 29, 35, 42.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
governs default judgments which must be entered “[w]hen
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.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 55(a). The Court may then enter default judgment
at the plaintiff's request and with notice to the
defaulting party. Fed.R.Civ.P. 55(b)(2). Although courts
maintain “a strong policy that cases be decided on the
merits.” United States v. Schaffer Equip. Co.,
11 F.3d 450, 453 (4th Cir. 1993), the Court may exercise its
discretion in granting default judgment when the
“adversary process has been halted because of an
essentially unresponsive party.” S.E.C. v.
Lawbaugh, 359 F.Supp.2d 418, 421 (D. Md. 2005).
considering the propriety of default judgment, the Court
takes as true the well-pleaded factual allegations of the
complaint, other than those pertaining to damages. Ryan
v. Homecomings Fin. Network, 253 F.3d 778, 780 (4th Cir.
2001); see Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(b)(6) (“An
allegation - other than one relating to the amount of damages
- is admitted if a responsive pleading is required and the
allegation is not denied.”). The Court applies the
pleading standards announced in Ashcroft v. Iqbal,
556 U.S. 662 (2009), and Bell Atlantic Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007), in the context of default
judgments. See Balt. Line Handling Co. v. Brophy,
771 F.Supp.2d 531, 544 (D. Md. 2011). A complaint that avers
bare legal conclusions or “naked assertion[s] devoid of
further factual enhancement, ” is insufficient to award
default judgment. Russell v. Railey, No. DKC
08-2468, 2012 WL 1190972, at *3 (D. Md. Apr. 9, 2012)
(quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678); see, e.g.,
Balt. Line Handling Co., 771 F.Supp.2d at 545
(“The record lacks any specific allegations of fact
that ‘show' why those conclusions are
complaint avers sufficient facts from which the court may
find liability, the Court next turns to damages. See
Ryan, 253 F.3d at 780-81. Damages are circumscribed by
that which is requested in the complaint. See 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.”). The damages request must be supported by
evidence introduced either at a hearing or by affidavit or
other records. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 54(c);
Lawbaugh, 359 F.Supp.2d at 422.
avers that Defendants are liable, jointly and severally,
under the FLSA, MWHL, and MWPCL. A necessary precondition to
establishing liability under all three statutes is showing
that an employment relationship existed between the parties.
See Coles v. Von Paris Enterprises, Inc., No. PJM
14-450, 2014 WL 6893861, at *3 (D. Md. Dec. 3, 2014). Whether
an individual or entity is an “employer” within
the meaning of the FLSA, MWHL, and MWPCL is determined by
applying the “economic reality” test. See
Schultz v. Capital Int'l Sec., Inc., 466 F.3d 298,
304 (4th Cir. 2006); Rollins v. Rollins Trucking,
LLC, No. JKB-15-3312, 2016 WL 81510, ...