United States District Court, District of Columbia
D. BATES UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Jackson, Sequoyah Sherrill, Luc Nicholas Houanche, and
Gregory John Tolson (“plaintiffs”) sued
Contemporary Family Services, Inc. (“CFS”), and
its owner, John L. Monroe, Jr. (collectively,
“defendants”), alleging that defendants failed to
pay them for work done in April 2018. After defendants failed
to appear, file an answer, or otherwise respond to the
complaint, the Clerk's Office entered a default against
them. Plaintiffs now move for a default judgment under Rules
54(d)(2) and 55(b)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure. The Court grants plaintiffs' motion.
provided counseling, therapy, and advisory services to
Medicaid recipients in the District of Columbia. Compl. [ECF
No. 1] at 2-3. Plaintiffs each worked for CFS as counselors
and therapists during the relevant period, April 2018.
Id. ¶¶ 7-10. On April 30, 2018, CFS-
experiencing financial difficulties-terminated
plaintiffs' employment. Id. ¶ 12. According
to plaintiffs, after their termination, CFS failed to pay
them for work they had performed in April. Id.
Sherrill alleges that she also was not paid for certain work
performed in previous months. Id.
from each of the plaintiffs set out their claimed hourly
wages and unpaid hours, which are summarized in the following
Total Unpaid Wages
See Jackson Aff. [ECF No. 11-3] ¶ 15; Sherrill
Aff. [ECF No. 11-4] ¶ 16; Houanche Aff. [ECF No. 11-5]
¶ 12; Tolson Aff. [ECF No. 11-6] ¶ 15.
complaint, filed on October 11, 2018, seeks damages under two
statutes: the Fair Labor Standards Act, 29 U.S.C. § 201
(“FLSA”), and the D.C. Wage Payment and
Collection Law, D.C. Code § 32-1301
(“DCWPCL”). ”). Compl. ¶ 1. Defendants
failed to appear or answer within 21 days of being served
with the complaint and continued to take no action
thereafter. See Affidavit of Service [ECF No. 4];
Affidavit of Service [ECF No. 5]; Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(a)(1)(A)(i)
(requiring defendants to “serve an answer . . . within
21 days of being served with the summons and
complaint”). The Clerk of Court entered a default
against them on January 14, 2019. See Entry of
Default as to Contemporary Family Servs. [ECF No. 9]; Entry
of Default as to John L. Monroe [ECF No. 10].
now request that the Court enter a default judgment against
defendants in the amount of $16, 006.90 in unpaid wages, $48,
020.70 in liquidated damages under the DCWPCL, $43, 817.40 in
attorney's fees, and $1, 435.01 in litigation costs.
Pl.'s Mot. for Entry of Default J. & Award of
Att'y's Fees & Costs (“Pl.'s
Mot.”) [ECF No. 11] at 16-17; Pl.'s Suppl. to Mot.
for Att'y's Fees and Costs (“Pl.'s Suppl.
Mot.”) [ECF No. 14] at 1.
of a default judgment under Fed.R.Civ.P. 55(b) is
“committed to the discretion of the trial court,
” and is generally appropriate where a 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.” Reyes v. Kimuell, 270
F.Supp.3d 30, 33 (D.D.C. 2017) (internal quotation marks
omitted); Int'l Painters & Allied Trades Indus.
Pension Fund v. Auxier Drywall, LLC, 531 F.Supp.2d 56,
57 (D.D.C. 2008). Where there is a complete “absence of
any request to set aside the default or suggestions by the
defendant that it has a meritorious defense, it is clear that
the standard for default judgment has been satisfied.”
Auxier Drywall, 531 F.Supp.2d at 57 (internal
quotation marks omitted).
the case here. Defendants have not responded to the summons,
complaint, entry of default, or motion for default judgment.
Hence, the Court finds that entry of default judgment is
appropriate. The Court also finds that plaintiffs'
complaint sufficiently alleges facts to support their claims
under the FLSA and the DCWPCL.
although a “default judgment establishes the defaulting
party's liability for every well-pled 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) (citing Adkins v. Teseo, 180 F.Supp.2d 15, 17
(D.D.C. 2001)). Courts must “make an independent
determination of the amount of damages to be awarded, unless
the amount of damages is certain.” Serv. Employees
Int'l Union Nat. Indus. Pension Fund v. Artharee,
942 F.Supp.2d 27, 30 (D.D.C. 2013). “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.”
Reyes, 270 F.Supp.3d at 34.
the Court concludes that damages can be established based on
the current record without an evidentiary hearing. Each
plaintiff provided the Court with affidavits to support his
or her damages request. True, none of the plaintiffs
supported their affidavits with documentary evidence, such as
pay stubs or other records, to support the hours they claim
to have worked. But “because the employer is
responsible for maintaining such records, courts are
reluctant to penalize plaintiffs without documentation in
cases where the ...