United States District Court, District of Columbia
B. WALTON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
plaintiff, Ana Sanchez, brings this action against the
defendants, Devashish Hospitality, LLC d/b/a Great Wraps
(“Great Wraps”) and Saroj Bhatterai, as the owner
and operator of the Great Wraps restaurant located at 1300
Pennsylvania Avenue where she worked as a food preparer,
see Complaint (“Compl.”) ¶¶
2-3, 12, due to their “failure to pay [her] all earned
overtime wages and . . . for all time worked, in violation of
both federal and District of Columbia law, ”
id. ¶ 1. Currently before the Court is the
plaintiff's Motion and Memorandum in Support Thereof for
Default Judgment (“Pl.'s Mot.”), which
“requests that the Court enter [a] default judgment
against [the d]efendants . . . on all counts, ”
Pl.'s Mot. at 1, and award her damages and attorneys'
fees and costs, see id. at 11-12. For the reasons
set forth below, the Court will grant the plaintiff's
motion in part, enter judgment against Great Wraps and
Bhatterai, and defer a ruling on the plaintiff's demand
for attorneys' fees and costs pending further briefing on
this demand by the plaintiff.
Wraps is “a [District of Columbia] domestic
corporation, ” Compl. ¶ 18, that employed Sanchez
“as a food preparer, performing non-exempt work . . .
from on or about September 1998 to approximately November
2015, ” id. ¶¶ 12-13. Sanchez alleges that she
“often worked approximately [seventy-five] to [eighty]
hours per week” from the end of 2012 to the end of
2014, and that she often “worked approximately
[forty-five] hours per week” from December 2014, until
she was terminated in September 2015. Pl.'s Mot. at 6.
Sanchez was compensated at an hourly rate of $10.00, see
id., Exhibit (“Ex.”) 1 (Sanchez Decl.)
¶ 27, and Great Wraps and Bhatterai “issued her
paychecks for the hours she worked up to [forty] hours per
week, and they paid her in cash for the hours worked over
[forty] in one week, ” id. at 5.
claims that throughout her employment, Great Wraps and
Bhatterai failed to compensate her at “one and one-half
times her regular rate of pay for her overtime hours, ”
as required by federal and District of Columbia law. Compl.
¶ 47. In addition, Sanchez asserts that, from July 2015,
until the end of her employment with Great Wraps in September
2015, her compensation was below the minimum wage established
by District of Columbia law, which was $10.50 during that
time period. See Pl.'s Mot., Ex. 1 (Sanchez
Decl.) ¶ 27. Due to the defendants' alleged failure
to appropriately compensate her as required by both federal
and District of Columbia law, Sanchez contends that she is
owed approximately $44, 830.40 under the Fair Labor Standards
Act, $45, 255.40 under the District of Columbia Minimum Wage
Law, and $90, 510.80 under the District of Columbia Wage
Payment and Collection Law, plus attorneys' fees and
costs in the amount of $32, 573.50. See id. at
February 11, 2016, Sanchez filed this action against the
defendants. Id. After three months elapsed without
the plaintiff advancing her case, the Court issued a show
cause order due to Sanchez's failure to prosecute this
matter. See Order (May 20, 2016), ECF No. 3.
Thereafter, on May 28, 2016, Sanchez served Great Wraps and
Bhatterai with copies of the Summons and Complaint.
See Return of Service/Affidavit, ECF No. 8; see
also Pl.'s Affidavit for Default, ECF No. 10.
Neither Great Wraps nor Bhatterai has responded to
Sanchez's Complaint. As a consequence, the Clerk of the
Court entered default against both defendants on July 6,
2016. See Clerk's Entry of Default, ECF No. 11.
Sanchez now moves for entry of default judgment against both
defendants, and neither of the defendants has responded to
STANDARD OF REVIEW
sets forth a two-step process for a party seeking a default
judgment. Fed.R.Civ.P. 55(a). First, “[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, the clerk must enter the
party's default.” Id. Second, “the
party must apply to the court for a default judgment.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 55(b)(2). Despite a plaintiff's ability to
acquire a judgment by default, there are “strong
policies favoring the resolution of genuine disputes on their
merits.” Jackson v. Beech, 636 F.2d 831, 835
(D.C. Cir. 1980); see Peak v. District of Columbia,
236 F.R.D. 13, 15 (D.D.C. 2006) (acknowledging the inherent
unfairness of awarding judgment against a party for mere
filing delays). Therefore, “default judgment must
normally be viewed as available only when the adversary
process has been halted because of an essentially
unresponsive party.” Jackson, 636 F.2d at 836
(quoting H. F. Livermore Corp. v. Aktiengesellschaft
Gebruder Loepfe, 432 F.2d 689, 691 (D.C. Cir. 1970));
see also Teamsters Local 639-Emp'rs Health Tr. v.
Boiler & Furnace Cleaners, Inc., 571 F.Supp.2d 101,
107 (D.D.C. 2008) (“[W]hen the adversary process has
been halted because of an essentially unresponsive party[, ]
the diligent party must be protected lest he be faced with
interminable delay and continued uncertainty as to his
establishes the defaulting party's liability for the
well-pleaded allegations of the complaint.” Boland
v. Elite Terrazzo Flooring, Inc., 763 F.Supp.2d 64, 67
(D.D.C. 2011) (citing Adkins v. Teseo, 180 F.Supp.2d
15, 17 (D.D.C. 2001)); see also Adkins, 180
F.Supp.2d at 17 (“A defaulting defendant is deemed to
admit every well-pleaded allegation in the
complaint.”). “After establishing liability, the
court must make an independent evaluation of the damages to
be awarded and has ‘considerable latitude in
determining the amount of damages.'” Ventura v.
L.A. Howard Constr. Co., 134 F.Supp.3d 99, 103 (D.D.C.
2015) (quoting Boland, 763 F.Supp.2d at 67). The
court must only “ensure that there [i]s a basis for
the damages specified in the default judgment.”
Id. (second alteration in original) (quoting
Transatlantic Marine Claims Agency, Inc. v. Ace Shipping
Corp., 109 F.3d 105, 111 (2d Cir. 1997)).
“‘[T]he plaintiff must prove [her] entitlement to
the amount of monetary damages requested' using
‘detailed affidavits or documentary evidence' on
which the court may rely.” Boland v. Providence
Constr. Corp., 304 F.R.D. 31, 36 (D.D.C. 2014) (quoting
Fanning v. Permanent Sol. Indus., 257 F.R.D. 4, 7
the Clerk has already entered defaults against both Great
Wraps and Bhatterai, the Court will proceed to step two of
the default judgment analysis. The Court therefore
“must determine whether entry of [a] default judgment
is appropriate, and if it is, whether [Sanchez] is entitled
to the full amount of relief she requests.”
Ventura, 134 F.Supp.3d at 103. To make this
determination, the Court will assess the defendants'
liability for the alleged unpaid wages and overtime
compensation, the proper amount of liquidated damages, and
Sanchez's request for attorneys' fees and costs. In
making these determinations, the Court will accept
Sanchez's well-pleaded allegations as true. See
and [District of Columbia] law provide employees with a cause
of action for failure to [be] pa[id] overtime wages at a rate
equal to time and a half for hours worked over forty hours a
week.” Martinez v. China Boy, Inc., 229
F.Supp.3d 1, 3 (D.D.C. 2016); see also 29 U.S.C.
§ 207(a)(2)(C) (2012); D.C. Code §§
32-1003(c), -1012(a) (2012). From July 1, 2015, until July 1,
2016, employers in the District of Columbia were required
to pay their employees no less than $10.50 per hour.
See D.C. Code § 32-1003. Here, Sanchez
“has not produced timesheets and the defendant[s have]
failed to respond, ” to Sanchez's Complaint;
therefore, “the Court will accept [Sanchez's]
declaration, submitted under the penalty of perjury, as to
the hours she worked and wages she received, except to the
extent that her declaration seeks relief beyond that sought
in the [C]omplaint.” Martinez, 229 F.Supp.3d
declaration, Sanchez represents the hours she worked and the
fact that Great Wraps failed (1) to compensate her at least
at the minimum wage of $10.50 from July 2015, to September
2015, and (2) to pay her for overtime from the end of 2012,
to the end of her employment in September 2015. See
generally Pl.'s Mot., Ex. 1 (Sanchez Decl.). Sanchez
further contends in her declaration that based on the base
pay she was entitled to receive, she is owed approximately
$22, 627.70 in unpaid wages and overtime compensation.
Id. ¶ 32. Based on these uncontested facts,
Sanchez has established that the defendants are liable for
unpaid wages and overtime pay under both federal and District
of Columbia law.
this determination, “[w]hether the entry of a default
judgment is appropriate is committed to the sound discretion
of this Court.” Boland v. Yoccabel Const. Co.,
293 F.R.D. 13, 17 (D.D.C. 2013) (Walton, J.) (citing
Jackson, 636 F.2d at 836). For the Court to enter a
default judgment, “the defendant must be considered a
‘totally unresponsive' party whose failure to
‘respond to the summons and complaint, the entry of a
default, and the motion for a default judgment'
demonstrates plainly willful behavior.” Id.
(quoting Teamsters Local 639, 571 F.Supp.2d at 107).
“The Court may enter default judgment when a defendant
makes no request ‘to set aside the default' and
gives no indication of a ‘meritorious
defense.'” Ventura, 134 F.Supp.3d at 104
(quoting Int'l Painters & Allied Trades Indus.
Pension Fund v. Auxier Drywall, LLC, 531 F.Supp.2d 56,
57 (D.D.C. 2008)). Given that both Great Wraps and Bhatterai
have refused to engage in the adversary process by failing to
respond to Sanchez's Complaint, have not petitioned for
the Clerk to set aside the default, and have not presented
any meritorious defense to Sanchez's motion, the Court
finds the defendants liable and, therefore, the entry of a
default judgment against them is appropriate. See