United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Western Division
MADELINE HUGHES HAIKALA UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Michael Bujalski, Tyler Lovell, Carrie Johnson-Moore, Bryant
K. Davis, Courtland Hendricks, and Rebecca Doss sued
defendants Kozy’s Restaurant, Inc., Michael Allen,
Claudia Allen, Phillip Kinard, and Killion Restaurants, Inc.
for failure to adequately compensate the plaintiffs under the
Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), 29 U.S.C. § 206. (Docs.
6, 22). The Court has dismissed the plaintiffs’ claims
against all of the defendants except for Michael Allen. On
May 16, 2017, the Clerk of Court entered default against Mr.
Allen because Mr. Allen has not responded to the
plaintiffs’ complaint. (Doc. 82). The plaintiffs now
ask the Court to enter default judgment against Mr. Allen.
(Doc. 83). For the reasons discussed below, the Court grants
the plaintiffs’ motion for default judgment.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
Rule of Civil Procedure 55 establishes a two-step procedure
for obtaining a default judgment. First, when a defendant
fails to defend a lawsuit, as in this case, the Clerk of
Court may enter a clerk’s default. Fed. R. Civ. P.
55(a). Second, after entry of the clerk’s default, if
the defendant is not an infant or an incompetent person, the
Court may enter a default judgment against the defendant
because of the defendant’s failure to appear or defend.
Fed. R. Civ. P. 55(b)(2). “A default judgment must not
differ in kind from, or exceed in amount, what is demanded in
the pleadings.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 54(c).
motion for default judgment is not granted as a matter of
right.” Pitts ex rel. Pitts v. Seneca Sports,
Inc., 321 F.Supp.2d 1353, 1356 (S.D. Ga. 2004) (internal
footnote omitted). After a clerk enters a default pursuant to
Rule 55(a), the Court must review the sufficiency of the
complaint and its underlying substantive merits to determine
whether a moving party is entitled to default judgment.
Chudasama v. Mazda Motor Corp., 123 F.3d 1353, 1370
n. 41 (11th Cir. 1997). The Court must ensure that the
well-pleaded allegations in the complaint state a substantive
cause of action and that a sufficient basis exists in the
pleadings for the relief sought. Cotton v. Mass. Mut.
Life Ins. Co., 402 F.3d 1267, 1278 (11th Cir. 2005). In
addition to the pleadings, the Court may consider evidence
presented in the form of an affidavit or a declaration.
Frazier v. Absolute Collection Serv., Inc.,
767 F.Supp.2d 1354, 1362 (N.D. Ga. 2011). A defaulting
defendant “admits the plaintiff’s well-pleaded
allegations of fact” for purposes of liability.
Buchanan v. Bowman, 820 F.2d 359, 361 (11th Cir.
1987) (quoting Nishimatsu Constr. Co., Ltd. v. Houston
Nat’l Bank, 515 F.2d 1200, 1206 (5th Cir. 1975)
(internal quotation marks omitted)).
FACTS & ALLEGATIONS
was a fine-dining restaurant in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. The
plaintiffs worked at Kozy’s as servers, bartenders,
cooks, and hostesses until June of 2013. (Doc. 6,
¶¶ 9–15). During periods of their employment
with Kozy’s, Mr. Allen owned the restaurant. (Doc. 6,
¶ 4). The plaintiffs allege that Mr. Allen did not
adequately compensate them for their work in March, April,
May, and June of 2013, in willful violation of the FLSA.
(Doc. 6, pp. 5–7). Mr. Allen has not appeared or
responded to the plaintiffs’ complaint.
Subject matter jurisdiction
Court has jurisdiction over this action pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 1331 because the plaintiffs’ claims arise under
the FLSA, a federal statute. See 28 U.S.C. §
1331 (“The district courts shall have original
jurisdiction of all civil actions arising under the
Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United
States.”); see also Jairath v. Dyer, 154 F.3d
1280, 1282 (11th Cir. 1998) (“[F]ederal-question
jurisdiction may be based on a civil action alleging a
violation of the Constitution or . . . a federal
default judgment is valid only when the Court has personal
jurisdiction over the defendant. Rash v. Rash, 173
F.3d 1376, 1381 (11th Cir. 1999); see also Sys. Pipe
& Supply, Inc. v. M/V Viktor Kurnatovskiy, 242 F.3d
322, 324 (5th Cir. 2001) (“When entry of default is
sought against a party who has failed to plead or otherwise
defend, the district court has an affirmative duty to look
into its jurisdiction over both the subject matter and the
parties.”) (alteration omitted). The plaintiffs allege
that Mr. Allen is a resident of Alabama and that Mr. Allen
was an “owner, principal, and officer” of
Kozy’s. (Doc. 6, ¶ 4). Before it closed in 2013,
Kozy’s was located in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Mr. Allen
was served in Alabama, and he has offered no evidence to
contest the Court’s jurisdiction. (Doc. 7).
Accordingly, the Court finds that it may properly exercise
personal jurisdiction over Mr. Allen.
Liability under the FLSA
FLSA provides that “[e]very employer shall pay to each
of his employees who in any workweek is engaged in commerce
or in the production of goods for commerce, or is employed in
an enterprise engaged in commerce or in the production of
goods for commerce . . . $7.25 an hour.” See
29 U.S.C. § 206(a). The plaintiffs allege that Kozy’s
was an enterprise engaged in interstate commerce. (Doc. 6,
¶ 21). The plaintiffs allege that Mr. Allen willfully
failed to pay them the FLSA’s hourly minimum wage
during March, April, May, and June of 2013. (Doc. 6,
¶¶ 26–28). By not appearing or otherwise
defending against the ...