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Reyes v. Kimuell

United States District Court, District of Columbia

September 1, 2017

ANA MARIA SARCENO REYES, Plaintiff,
v.
KIMMOTI KIMUELL, doing business as Burrito Brothers, Defendant. Re Document No.: 14 Time Period Hourly Rate Unpaid Wages Time Period Hourly Rate Unpaid Wages Unpaid Wages Liquidated Damages Total Damages Unpaid Wages Liquidated Damages Total Damages Attorney Hours Billed Hourly Rate Total

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          RUDOLPH CONTRERAS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Granting Plaintiff's Motion for Entry of Default Judgment

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Ms. Ana Maria Sarceno Reyes sued Mr. Kimmoti Kimuell, doing business as Burrito Brothers, alleging that he failed to pay her statutorily required overtime wages. After Mr. Kimuell failed to appear, file an answer, or otherwise respond to the complaint, the Clerk's office entered a default against him. Ms. Sarceno Reyes now moves for a default judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 55(b)(2) in the amount of $117, 031.24 in damages, $3647 in attorneys' fees, and $500.94 in costs. Because Ms. Sarceno Reyes has met her evidentiary burden, the Court grants Ms. Sarceno Reyes's motion but reduces the damages award to correct several errors.

         II. FACTUAL BACKGROUND[1]

         Ms. Sarceno Reyes worked for Mr. Kimuell as a cook and food preparer[2] from June 15, 2010, through March 29, 2016. Pl.'s Rule 55(b)(2) Mot. Entry Default J. (Pl.'s Mot.) at 2, ECF No. 14. According to Ms. Sarceno Reyes, her hourly wage during the applicable period was:

Time Period

Hourly Wage

March 16, 2013 to July 4, 2014

$ 9.00

July 5, 2014 to July 3, 2015

$ 9.50

July 4, 2015 to March 29, 2016

$ 10.50

Sarceno Reyes Decl. at ¶ 2, ECF No. 14-1. According to Ms. Sarceno Reyes, she worked “an average of sixty (60) and seventy-five (75) hours per week” but was never paid overtime for hours worked in excess of forty hours each week. Sarceno Reyes Decl. at ¶ 3. According to Ms. Sarceno Reyes's counsel, Ms. Sarceno Reyes worked “approximately 81.25 hours in one week and 78.50 hours in the next week” from March 16, 2013 to February 27, 2015, and “approximately 66.50 hours in one week and 64 hours in the next week” from February 28, 2015 to March 29, 2017. 2d Lombardo Aff. ¶ 1, ECF No. 15-1. Based upon these figures, Ms. Sarceno Reyes claims she is owed “approximately $29, 257.81” in unpaid overtime wages. Sarceno Reyes Decl. at ¶ 4.

         Ms. Sarceno Reyes's Complaint sought damages under three different statutes: the Fair Labor Standards Act, 29 U.S.C. § 201, et seq. (FLSA); the D.C. Wage Payment and Collection Law, D.C. Code § 32-1301, et seq. (DCWPCL), and the D.C. Wage Revision Act, D.C. Code § 32-1003, et seq. (DCMWRA). Compl. 1, ECF No. 1. Mr. Kimuell did not appear or answer within the first 21 days after being served with the complaint, or thereafter. See Proof of Service, ECF No. 11; Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(1)(A)(i) (requiring a defendant to “serve an answer within 21 days of being served with a summons”). The Clerk of Court therefore entered a default against Mr. Kimuell. Default, ECF No. 13. Ms. Sarceno Reyes now requests that this Court enter a default judgment against Mr. Kimuell in the amount of $29, 257.81 in unpaid wages and treble damages of $87, 773.43 under the DCWPCL (for a total of $117, 031.24 in damages), as well as $3647 in attorneys' fees and $500.94 in costs. Pl.'s Mot. at 6, ECF No. 14; Pl.'s Supp'l Sub., ECF No. 15.[3]

         III. ANALYSIS

         Ms. Sarceno Reyes seeks a default judgment based on Mr. Kimuell's failure to respond. The Court may enter a default judgment in accordance with Rule 55 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Default judgment is appropriate when the defendant is an “essentially unresponsive party” whose default is “plainly willful, reflected by its failure to respond to the summons or complaint, the entry of default, or the motion for default judgment.” Carazani v. Zegarra, 972 F.Supp.2d 1, 12 (D.D.C. 2013) (internal citations omitted). The Court may enter a default judgment when a defendant “makes no request to set aside the default” and “gives no indication of a meritorious defense.” Ventura v. L.A. Howard Constr. Co., 134 F.Supp.3d 99, 104 (D.D.C. 2015) (quoting Int'l Painters & Allied Trades Indus. Pension Fund v. Auxier Drywall, LLC, 531 F.Supp.2d 56, 57 (D.D.C. 2008)).

         Here, Mr. Kimuell has not responded to the summons, complaint, entry of default, or motion for default judgment, and entering a default judgment against him is therefore appropriate. See Serv. Employees Int'l Union Nat. Indus. Pension Fund v. Artharee, 942 F.Supp.2d 27, 29-30 (D.D.C. 2013) (“Where, as here, there is a complete ‘absence of any request to set aside the default or suggestion by the defendant that it has a meritorious defense, it is clear that the standard for default judgment has been satisfied.'” (quoting Int'l Painters & Allied Trades, 531 F.Supp.2d at 57)). The Court therefore finds that entry of a default judgment is appropriate.

         However, although “[a] default judgment establishes the defaulting party's liability for every well-plead allegation in the complaint, ” it does not “automatically establish liability in the amount claimed by the plaintiff.” PT (Persero) Merpati Nusantara Airlines v. Thirdstone Aircraft Leasing Grp., Inc., 246 F.R.D. 17, 18 (D.D.C. 2007) (emphasis added) (citing Adkins v. Teseo, 180 F.Supp.2d 15, 17 (D.D.C. 2001) and Shepherd v. Am. Broad. Cos., 862 F.Supp. 486, 491 (D.D.C. 1994), vacated on other grounds, 62 F.3d 1469 (D.C. Cir. 1995)); see also Fed. R. Civ. P. 55(b)(2). Instead, “the Court is required to make an independent determination of the amount of damages to be awarded, unless the amount of damages is certain.” Serv. Employees Int'l Union, 942 F.Supp.2d at 30 (citing Int'l Painters & Allied Trades Indus. Pension Fund v. Davanc Contracting, Inc., 808 F.Supp.2d 89, 94 (D.D.C. 2011)). In doing so, a court need not conduct an evidentiary hearing if it can establish a basis for the amount of damages through detailed affidavits or other documentary evidence. Flynn v. Mastro Masonry Contractors, 237 F.Supp.2d 66, 69 (D.D.C. 2002); see also Embassy of the Fed. Republic of Nigeria v. Ugwuonye, 945 F.Supp.2d 81, 85 (D.D.C. 2013). With these principles in mind, the Court turns to determining the appropriate measure of damages and concludes that a basis for the damages can be established without a hearing.

         A. ...


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