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Escobar v. Steelesoft Management, LLC

United States District Court, D. Maryland

July 24, 2019



          George L. Russell, III United States District Judge.

         THIS MATTER is before the Court on Plaintiff Ivonne Escobar's Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 41).[1] The Motion is ripe for disposition, and no hearing is necessary. See Local Rule 105.6 (D.Md. 2018). For the reasons outlined below, the Court will grant the Motion.

         I. BACKGROUND[2]

         From June 2005 to May 2012, Escobar worked for Defendant Steelesoft Management, LLC (“Steelesoft”) at its Baltimore, Maryland office. (Compl. ¶ 7, ECF No. 1). During Escobar's employment with Steelesoft, Defendant Scott R. Steele was President and owner of the company as well as a managing member. (Id. ¶ 9; Pl.'s Mot. Summ. J. [“Pl.'s Mot.”] Ex. A [“Interrog. Ans.”] Nos. 1, 2, ECF No. 41-3). Escobar typically worked at least forty hours a week, received a salary of $26, 650.00 per year, and was paid on a biweekly basis. (Compl. ¶¶ 18, 20-21). Escobar “regularly worked in excess of [forty] hours” in a work week and was not compensated at a rate of time and a half for working these overtime hours. (Id. ¶¶ 32-33).

         Starting in October 2011, Escobar and other Steelesoft employees began receiving their paychecks late. (Compl. ¶ 22; Mar. 17, 2013 Escobar Aff. ¶ 6, ECF No. 41-5). Between November 2011 and May 2012, Defendants did not pay Escobar during eight pay periods. (Compl. ¶ 23; Pl.'s Mot. Ex. B at Steele0000535-Steele0000542, ECF No. 41-4; Mar. 17, 2013 Escobar Aff. ¶¶ 7-8). Specifically, Defendants “failed to provide [Escobar] any compensation” for the following pay periods: November 12, 2011 through November 25, 2011; November 26, 2011 through December 9, 2011; December 10, 2011 through December 23, 2011; December 24, 2011 through January 6, 2012; March 3, 2012 through March 16, 2012; March 17, 2012 through March 30, 2012; March 31, 2012 through April 14, 2012; and April 14, 2012 through April 27, 2012.[3] (Compl. ¶¶ 23, 25; Mar. 17, 2013 Escobar Aff. ¶¶ 7-8; see Steele Dep., 299:20-300:10; 300:19-302:18, Feb. 21, 2013, ECF No. 41-7). As a result, Escobar resigned from Steelesoft on May 3, 2012. (Compl. ¶ 28).

         On August 15, 2012, Escobar sued Defendants. (ECF No. 1). The three-count Complaint alleges violations of: (1) Maryland's Wage Payment and Collection Law (the “MWPCL”), Md. Code Ann., Labor & Employment (“L&E”) §§ 3-501 et seq. (West 2019); (2) Maryland's Wage and Hour Law (the “MWHL”), L&E §§ 3-401 et seq. (West 2019); and (3) the Fair Labor Standards Act (the “FLSA”), 29 U.S.C. §§ 201 et seq. (2018). (Compl. ¶¶ 48-69). Escobar seeks unpaid wages, treble damages, liquidated damages, prejudgment interest, and attorney's fees and costs. (Id. at 10-13).

         On December 24, 2012, Steele filed a Suggestion of Bankruptcy, which automatically stayed the case against him. (Sugg. Bankr. ¶ 2, ECF No. 11). With the exception of Steele's deposition and some outstanding written discovery, discovery closed on February 15, 2013. (Sched. Order at 2, ECF No. 8; Feb. 11, 2013 Order, ECF No. 15). On March 18, 2013, Escobar filed a Motion for Summary Judgment against Steelesoft. (ECF No. 20). The Court has no record that Steelesoft filed an Opposition.

         On April 11, 2013, the Court granted Escobar's unopposed Motion for Summary Judgment against Steelesoft. (Apr. 11, 2013 Order at 1, ECF No. 21). The Court concluded that Escobar was a non-exempt employee, and that Steelesoft improperly withheld Escobar's earned wages and failed to pay her overtime wages. (Id. at 1-2). The Court awarded Escobar a total of $65, 095.15: (1) treble damages on $8, 200.00 in unpaid wages, totaling $24, 600.00 in damages; (2) $829.60 in unpaid overtime, doubled as liquidated damages; and (3) $39, 665.55 in attorneys' fees and costs. (Id.). The Court also administratively closed the case pending resolution of Steele's bankruptcy proceedings. (Id. at 2).

         On October 11, 2018, the parties submitted a Joint Status Report in which they informed the Court that Steele's bankruptcy proceedings had been dismissed. (Oct. 11, 2018 J. Status Rep. ¶ 3, ECF No. 25). Between October 2018 and January 2019, the Court granted Defendants' three extensions of time so they could retain counsel before the Court lifted the stay. (See ECF Nos. 27, 30, 32). On January 4, 2019, the Court lifted the stay, reopened the case, and set February 4, 2019 as the dispositive pretrial motions deadline. (Jan. 4, 2019 Order, ECF No. 36).

         On February 4, 2019, Escobar filed her Motion for Summary Judgment. (ECF No. 41). Steele filed his Opposition on March 8, 2019. (ECF No. 43). Escobar filed a Reply on March 25, 2019. (ECF No. 44).


         A. Motion for Summary Judgment

         1. Conversion of Escobar's Motion

         As a threshold matter, the Court addresses Steele's contentions that he has not had “the benefit of full discovery or evidence” to support his Opposition because the case against him was stayed on December 16, 2012. (Def.'s Opp'n at 1, ECF No. 43). As a result, Steele asserts, the Court should deny ...

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