United States District Court, District of Columbia
FERNANDO M. IZAGUIRRE, Plaintiff,
HUNTER ALLIED OF MARYLAND, INC., et al., Defendants.
L. FRIEDRICH, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
the Court is Fernando M. Izaguirre's Motion for Default
Judgment, Dkt. 30. For the reasons that follow, the Court
will grant the motion.
Allied of Maryland, Inc., is a construction company providing
services within Washington, D.C., and Bradford Q. Ott is its
president and owner. Am. Compl. ¶¶ 9-14, Dkt. 4.
Izaguirre has worked at Hunter Allied since August 2017 with
an hourly rate of $16.00. Id. ¶¶ 24-26.
the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”), the
District of Columbia Payment and Collection of Wages Law
(“DCPCWL”), and the District of Columbia Minimum
Wage Revision Act (“DCMWRA”),
“employers” must compensate their
“employees” for hours worked in excess of 40
hours per week at a rate “not less than” one and
one-half times the employee's regular rate. 29 U.S.C.
§§ 207(a)(1)-(2); D.C. Code § 32-1003(c).
Allied and Ott are employers as defined by the FLSA and D.C.
law. Hunter Allied is an employer under the FLSA because it
employs two or more people who handle goods that traveled in
or were produced for interstate commerce, Am. Compl. ¶
9, and the annual gross volume of Hunter Allied's
business has exceeded $500, 000, id. ¶ 10.
See 29 U.S.C. § 203(s)(1)(A)(i)-(ii). Ott is an
employer because he is a corporate officer with
“operational control of a corporation's covered
enterprise.” Perez v. C.R. Calderon Constr.,
Inc., 221 F.Supp.3d 115, 143-44 (D.D.C. 2016) (holding
corporate officer and corporation jointly and severally
liable under the FLSA for unpaid wages). In determining
whether a corporate officer is an employer, courts look at
factors such as whether the individual “(1) had the
power to hire and fire the employees, (2) supervised and
controlled employee work schedules or conditions of
employment, (3) determined the rate and method of payment,
and (4) maintained employment records.” Morrison v.
Int'l Programs Consortium, Inc., 253 F.3d 5, 11
(D.C. Cir. 2001) (internal quotation marks omitted).
According to the complaint, Ott is the president and owner of
Hunter Allied; he “maintains custody and control”
of Hunter Allied's business records, and he possesses
“the authority and discretion to fix, adjust, and
determine hours worked and amounts paid with respect to
employees at Hunter Allied.” Am. Compl. ¶¶
14-16. Both Hunter Allied and Ott are also employers under
D.C. law because the D.C. statutes are construed consistently
with the FLSA. Ventura v. Bebo Foods, Inc., 738
F.Supp.2d 1, 6 (D.D.C. 2010).
alleges that Hunter Allied and Ott failed to pay him overtime
wages from 2017 through 2018. According to Izaguirre, when
his work exceeded 40 hours per week, he would receive wages
equal to his hourly wage rate instead of one and one-half of
his hourly rate. Am. Compl. ¶ 28-30. He alleges that the
defendants would sometimes classify these overtime wages as
“expense reimbursement” on his paychecks, and
sometimes count his overtime hours from one week toward his
regular hours the next week. Id. ¶¶ 32-38,
filed suit on April 24, 2018, Dkt. 3, and has since amended
the complaint as a collective action for overtime wages under
the FLSA and as a class action for overtime wages pursuant to
Rule 23 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the DCPCWL,
and the DCMWRA. Id. ¶ 1. Following personal
service of the complaint and the amended complaint upon Ott,
the defendants failed to appear. Izaguirre then moved for an
entry of default, Dkt. 10, and the Clerk entered default
against the defendants, Dkt. 11; Dkt. 12. On November 13,
2018, the Court granted Izaguirre's Motion to
Conditionally Certify a Fair Labor Standards Act Collective
Action. Dkt. 15. The Court later ordered the defendants to
produce “a computer-readable list of all employees who
worked as hourly employees of Hunter Allied of Maryland,
Inc., since April 24, 2015, ” by January 18, 2019.
See December 28, 2018 Min. Order. After the
defendants failed to respond, the Court held the defendants
in civil contempt on May 29, 2019 for failing to comply with
the Court's order. See Mem. Op. & Order,
Dkt. 24. When the defendants produced the required records,
the Court found that the defendants purged themselves of
civil contempt and ordered the parties to meet and confer to
attempt to reach an agreement. See July 15, 2019
Min. Order. Izaguirre now contends that the defendants have
resumed ignoring his communications, see Mot. for
Default J. at 5-6, and on August 23, 2019, he moved for a
default judgment against Allied and Ott under Rule 55(b)(2)
of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure empower a federal district
court to enter a default judgment against a defendant who
fails to defend its case. Fed.R.Civ.P. 55(b)(2); Keegel
v. Key West & Caribbean Trading Co., 627 F.2d 372,
375 n.5 (D.C. Cir. 1980). While federal policy generally
favors resolving disputes on their merits, default judgments
are appropriate “when the adversary process has been
halted because of an essentially unresponsive party.”
Mwani v. bin Laden, 417 F.3d 1, 7 (D.C. Cir. 2005)
(quotation marks omitted).
a default judgment is a two-step process. First, the
plaintiff must request that the Clerk of Court enter default
against a party who has failed to plead or otherwise defend.
Fed.R.Civ.P. 55(a). The Clerk's default entry establishes
the defaulting defendant's liability for the well-pleaded
allegations of the complaint. Boland v. Providence
Constr. Corp., 304 F.R.D. 31, 35 (D.D.C. 2014). Second,
if the plaintiff's claim is not for a “sum certain,
” the plaintiff must apply to the court for a default
judgment. Fed.R.Civ.P. 55(b). At that point, the plaintiff
“must prove his entitlement to the relief requested
using detailed affidavits or documentary evidence on which
the court may rely.” Ventura v. L.A. Howard Constr.
Co., 134 F.Supp.3d 99, 103 (D.D.C. 2015) (internal
quotation marks and alterations omitted).
ruling on a motion for default judgment, a court “is
required to make an independent determination of the sum to
be awarded.” Fanning v. Permanent Sol. Indus.,
Inc., 257 F.R.D. 4, 7 (D.D.C. 2009) (quotation marks
omitted). In that inquiry, the court has “considerable
latitude.” Ventura, 134 F.Supp.3d at 103
(quotation marks omitted). The court may conduct a hearing to
determine damages, Fed.R.Civ.P. 55(b)(2), but the court is
not required to do so “as long as it ensures that there
is a basis for the damages specified in the default judgment,
” Ventura, 134 F.Supp.3d at 103 (quotation
marks and alterations omitted).
the Clerk's default entry in this case, Hunter Allied and
Ott are deemed liable for the well-pleaded allegations in the
complaint. Providence Constr., 304 F.R.D. at 35.
Those allegations establish that defendants violated the
FLSA, the DCPCWL, and the DCMWRA when they failed to pay
Izaguirre overtime compensation by both counting these hours
as “expense reimbursement[s]” and shifting them
to subsequent weeks. Am. Compl. ¶ ...