United States District Court, D. Maryland, Southern Division
W. Grimm United States District Judge
Yamilet Melendez filed suit against Defendants Spilled Milk
Catering, LLC and its owner Amit Gulati (collectively
“Defendants”) to recover unpaid overtime wages.
Compl., ECF No. 1. Defendants were served and have not
responded. ECF No. 4, 5. The Clerk filed an entry of default
against Defendants on December 14, 2018, ECF No. 8, and
Plaintiff filed the pending Motion for Default Judgment on
February 13, 2019, ECF No. 9. Again, the Defendants failed to
respond. Having reviewed the motion, I find that a hearing is
unnecessary in this case. See Loc. R. 105.6.
Plaintiff has shown Defendants' liability, established
liquidated damages, and is awarded $16, 511.38. Plaintiff
also seeks attorneys' fees and costs in this matter and
will be awarded $5, 250.50. Accordingly, Plaintiff's
Motion for Default Judgment is GRANTED as modified for $21,
761.88 in favor of the Plaintiff.
and Procedural History
Gulani owns Spilled Milk Catering, LLC (“Spilled
Milk”), a Maryland entity. Melendez Decl. ¶ 6, ECF
No. 9-2. Mr. Gulani “made all relevant decisions
regarding Plaintiff's wages and working
conditions.” Compl. ¶ 9. He also “manually
wrote the pay checks and pay statements” for the
Plaintiff. Melendez Decl. ¶ 6. Plaintiff worked as a
cook for the Defendants from approximately September 14, 2016
to April 16, 2018 at a typical rate of $14 per hour and a
rate of $16 to $17 per hour on several occasions.
Id. ¶¶ 2-3. Plaintiff asserts that she
regularly worked in excess of forty hours per week and was
not compensated at the required overtime rate of one and
one-half times the regular hourly rate. Id.
¶¶ 4-5; Compl. ¶¶ 13-14.
12, 2018, Plaintiff filed suit against Defendants for unpaid
overtime wages pursuant to the Fair Labor Standards Act
(“FLSA”), 29 U.S.C. §§ 201 et
seq.; the Maryland Wage and Hour Law
(“MWHL”), Md. Code Ann., Lab. & Empl.
§§ 3-401 et seq.; and the Maryland Wage
Payment and Collection Law (“MWPCL”), Lab. &
Empl. §§ 3-501, et seq. Compl. ¶ 1.
Plaintiff served Defendants on August 3, 2018. In accordance
with Rule 12(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure,
Defendants' Answer to the Complaint was due to be filed
on or before August 24, 2018, and the time within which
Defendants could answer or otherwise defend has long since
expired. Pursuant to Rule 55(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure, the Clerk issued an Entry of Default as to each
defendant on October 12, 2018. ECF No. 8. The Defendants
still have not responded, and now pending is this Motion for
Default Judgment, filed by the Plaintiff on February 13,
2019. ECF No. 9.
of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure establishes a
two-step process when a party applies for default judgment.
First, the rule provides that “when a party ... 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). Following the
Clerk's entry of default, “the plaintiff [then may]
seek a default judgment.” Godlove v. Martinsburg
Senior Towers, LP, No. 14-CV-132, 2015 WL 746934, at *1
(N.D. W.Va. Feb. 20, 2015); seeFed. R. Civ. P.
55(b). “The Fourth Circuit has a ‘strong
policy' that ‘cases be decided on their
merits.'” SEC. v. Lawbaugh, 359 F.Supp.2d
418, 420 (D. Md. 2005) (citing Dow v. Jones, 232
F.Supp.2d 491, 494 (D. Md. 2002)). However, “default
judgment may be appropriate when the adversary process has
been halted because of an essentially unresponsive
party.” Id. at 420-22.
determining whether to grant a motion for default judgment,
the Court takes as true the well-pleaded factual allegations
in the complaint, other than those pertaining to damages.
Ryan v. Homecomings Fin. Network, 253 F.3d 778, 780
(4th Cir. 2001). If the Court finds that “liability is
established, [it] must then determine the appropriate amount
of damages.” Agora Fin., LLC v. Samler, 725
F.Supp.2d 491, 484 (citing Ryan, 253 F.3d at
780-81). In order to do so, “the court may conduct an
evidentiary hearing, or may dispense with a hearing if there
is an adequate evidentiary basis in the record from which to
calculate an award.” Mata v. G.O. Contractors
Grp., No. TDC-14-3287, 2015 WL 6674650, at *3 (D. Md.
Oct. 29, 2015); seeFed. R. Civ. P. 55(b).
well-pleaded factual allegations, taken as true, establish
liability under the FLSA, MWHL, and MWPCL. The FLSA and MWHL
require employers to pay one and one-half times regular
hourly rates for any hours worked in excess of forty per
Except as otherwise provided in this section, no employer
shall employ any of his employees who in any workweek is
engaged in commerce or in the production of goods for
commerce, or is employed in an enterprise engaged in commerce
or in the production of goods for commerce, for a workweek
longer than forty hours unless such employee receives
compensation for his employment in excess of the hours above
specified at a rate not less than one and one-half times the
regular rate at which he is employed.
29 U.S.C. § 207(a)(1); see also Lab. &
Empl. § 3-415(a) (“[e]xcept as otherwise provided
in this section, each employer shall pay an overtime wage of
at least 1.5 times the usual hourly wage, computed in
accordance with § 3-420 of this subtitle”);
id. § 3-420(a) (“[A]n employer shall
compute the wage for overtime under § 3-415 of this
subtitle on the basis of each hour over 40 hours that an
employee works during 1 workweek”). Plaintiff submitted
a spreadsheet showing the quantity of hours worked and wages
received over eighty-three weeks from September 17, 2016
through April 14, 2018. Wage Spreadsheet, ECF No. 9-3. The
spreadsheet provides data showing forty-nine weeks in which
overtime hours were performed; Plaintiff alleges that she
never was paid at a rate of one and one-half the regular
hourly rate. Id.; see also Melendez Decl.
Anderson v. Mt. Clemens Pottery Co., 328 U.S. 680,
686-88 (1946), superseded by statute on other grounds as
stated in Monge v. Portofino Ristorante, 751 F.Supp.2d
789, 799 (D. Md. 2010), the Supreme Court acknowledged the
hurdle that employees face when employers lack records of
wages and hours. Employees “seldom keep such records
themselves, ” and dismissing their claim as
“insufficient ... to merely offer an estimated average
of overtime worked” created a penalty that incentivized
employers to not keep “proper records in conformity
with their statutory duty.” Id. at 686-87. In
seeking to set a “fair and proper standard” for
the employee to meet, the Court ruled that an employee has
carried out his burden if he proves “the amount and
extent of that work as a matter of just and reasonable
inference, ” which shifts the burden to the employer to
“come forward with evidence of the precise amount of
work performed or with evidence to negate the reasonableness
of the inference.” Id. at 688-89.
in constructing the Wage Spreadsheet, to determine hours
“in weeks for which Plaintiff did not have records,
counsel used the data for the same week in the previous or
following year, or an average of hours and rate during the
given season.” Pl.'s Mem. 3, ECF No. 9-1; see
also Kurzyna Decl. ¶ 12, ECF No. 9-4. Plaintiff
logged thirty-two weeks using this method; of those,
twenty-one weeks warranted overtime pay. Wage Spreadsheet.
Defendants were entitled to challenge the reasonableness of
these inferences by presenting employment records and failed
to do so within the time allotted to file an Answer in
accordance with Rule 12(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure. See Anderson, 328 U.S. at 688-89. Thus, I
adopt Plaintiff's records as true in light of
Defendants' default. See Ryan, ...