United States District Court, District of Columbia
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
M. MERIWEATHER UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
before this Court is Plaintiff Jose Milton Bautista
Escamilla's (“Mr. Escamilla”) Petition for
Award of Attorney's Fees and Costs (“Fee
Petition”). See ECF No. 45. On January 10,
2017, this matter was reassigned from Magistrate Judge Alan
Kay to the undersigned for all purposes and trial.
See January 10, 2017 Referral. On February 9, 2017,
Mr. Escamilla filed the instant Fee Petition requesting
attorney's fees and costs in the amount of $64, 372.79,
following Magistrate Judge Kay's finding that Defendants
David Nuyen d/b/a USA Home Champion Realty and d/b/a Opmax
(“Mr. Nuyen”), USA Home Champion Realty, Inc.
(“HCR”), Opmax Management, LLC
(“OM”), and Opmax, LLC (“Opmax”)
(collectively, “Defendants”) violated the Federal
Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (“FLSA”) and
D.C. Minimum Wage Act Revision Act (“DCMWA”) by
failing to pay Mr. Escamilla his overtime wages. Fee Petition
at 2; Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law
(“Findings”) at 29, ECF No. 42. The Fee Petition
is unopposed. Nonetheless, the Court must deny Mr.
Escamilla's Fee Petition in its entirety because it was
not timely filed, and Mr. Escamilla has neither moved to
enlarge the deadline nor established excusable neglect that
would warrant such an extension.
22, 2014, Mr. Escamilla brought suit against Defendants,
alleging that Mr. Nuyen denied Mr. Escamilla his overtime
wages, in violation of the FLSA and DCMWA. Compl.
¶¶ 31, 44-56, ECF No. 1. Mr. Escamilla worked for
Defendants as a “general laborer” from
approximately March 1, 2008 through approximately January 28,
2013. See Findings at 2, ECF No. 42. Mr. Nuyen
served as president and primary owner of Opmax, HCR, OM, and
the rental properties located in Washington, D.C.
Id. Sung Dang (“Mr. Dang”) was Mr.
Nuyen's building manager. Id.
general laborer, Mr. Escamilla performed maintenance work on
Mr. Nuyen's rental properties in Washington, D.C.
Id. Specifically, Mr. Escamilla worked, on average,
66 hours per week cleaning, painting, and repairing the
properties, in addition to performing plumbing and carpentry
tasks. Id. Mr. Nuyen paid Mr. Escamilla $10.00 per
hour rather than paying Mr. Escamilla his “half
time” premium of $5.00 for every hour worked beyond a
40-hour workweek. Id. Throughout the duration of Mr.
Escamilla's employment, he never received a raise.
Id. at 6, 12.
Escamilla also claimed that Mr. Nuyen and Mr. Dang exercised
significant control over his daily work routine and provided
the tools for Mr. Escamilla and his coworkers to use each day
at the job site. Id. at 6-8. Mr. Nuyen called Mr.
Dang each day to inform him of Mr. Escamilla's tasks.
Id. at 6. Mr. Nuyen and Mr. Dang also inspected Mr.
Escamilla's work before he could perform the next
assignment. Id. at 7. Moreover, Mr. Nuyen was often
at the properties where Mr. Escamilla was working and was
usually there for the majority of the workweek. Id.
Mr. Nuyen also had the authority to fire Mr. Escamilla and
his coworkers. Id.
Escamilla claimed Defendants failed to pay him overtime wages
and therefore owed him $20, 670.00. Id. at 3. Mr.
Escamilla also requested liquidated damages, equitable
tolling of his claims, and reasonable attorney's fees.
Id. However, Defendants denied Mr. Escamilla's
claims and argued that Mr. Escamilla was not Defendants'
employee and was instead hired as an independent contractor
who was paid per job rather than per hour. Id.
Defendants also claimed that Mr. Escamilla signed a service
agreement on February 1, 2012 that reflected his status as an
independent contractor rather than an employee and therefore
agreed to the terms of his employment. Id.
Escamilla filed his Complaint on May 22, 2014 for
Defendants' alleged violations of the FLSA and the DCMWA.
See Compl. at 2. On December 18, 2014, District
Judge James E. Boasberg ordered that the matter be referred
to a magistrate judge for all purposes and trial.
See Order of Referral, ECF No. 11. Accordingly, the
case was reassigned to Magistrate Judge Alan Kay on December
18, 2014. See Referral, ECF No. 12.
Judge Kay conducted a two-day bench trial on October 24, 2016
and October 25, 2016. See October 24, 2016 and
October 25, 2016 Minute Entries. During the bench trial and
following its conclusion, Magistrate Judge Kay considered
witness testimony, evidence presented, and the parties'
proposed Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law.
See Pl.'s Proposed Findings of Facts and Law,
ECF No. 40; Defs.' Findings of Fact and Conclusions of
Law, ECF No. 41. In his Findings of Fact and Conclusions of
Law, Magistrate Judge Kay ultimately determined that Mr.
Escamilla had met his burden of proof in showing that
Defendants violated the FLSA and the DCMWA for their failure
to pay Mr. Escamilla his overtime wages. See
Findings at 3. Magistrate Judge Kay therefore awarded Mr.
Escamilla $20, 280.00 in damages for unpaid overtime wages,
$20, 280.00 in liquidated damages, and reasonable
attorney's fees. Id. at 29. Magistrate Judge Kay
did not apply equitable tolling to Mr. Escamilla's claims
because he found the claims to be too speculative.
Id. at 28. The Court further instructed Mr.
Escamilla to file a fee petition so that the Court could
determine the amount of attorney's fees to which Mr.
Escamilla was entitled. Id. at 29. On January 6,
2017, Judgment was entered in favor of Mr. Escamilla.
See Clerk's Judgment, ECF No. 43. On January 10,
2017, the case was reassigned to the undersigned magistrate
judge for all purposes and trial. See January 10,
attorneys withdrew their appearance after the bench trial. On
November 17, 2016, in a Joint Motion to Extend Time to File
Findings of Fact, Jason Friedman, counsel for Mr. Escamilla,
withdrew his appearance, and Gregg Greenberg replaced him as
counsel for Mr. Escamilla. See Joint Motion to
Extend Time to File Findings of Fact, ECF No. 39. On January
29, 2017, Daniel Wemhoff, counsel for Defendants, filed a
Notice of Withdrawal of Appearance. See Withdrawal
of Appearance, ECF No. 44. No attorney has entered an
appearance for Defendants since Mr. Wemhoff withdrew.
Escamilla filed his Fee Petition on February 9, 2017.
See Fee Petition, ECF No. 45. As the prevailing
party, Mr. Escamilla seeks an award of attorney's fees in
the amount of $58, 777.20 for 173.70 hours of legal services,
provided over the course of about two-and-a-half years, and
costs in the amount of $5, 595.59 for his filing, deposition
transcript, and trial interpreter fees. See Fee
Petition at 1, 13-14; see also Supp. Billing
Records, ECF No. 45-1. The total requested amount is $64,
372.79. See Fee Petition at 14.
February 14, 2017, the Court, on its own motion, extended the
deadline for Defendants' response to the Fee Petition by
thirty days, through March 16, 2017, in light of the
withdrawal of defense counsel. See Order, ECF No.
46. However, Defendants did not respond to the Fee Petition
prior to that date. On April 12, 2017, the Court requested
that Defendants file a notice advising the Court of whether
Defendants intended to seek additional time to respond to the
Fee Petition. See April 12, 2017 Minute Order. The
mailings notifying Mr. Dang of the Court's February 14,
2017 and April 12, ...