United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Southern Division
DAVID PROCTOR, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
case is before the court on the Motion for Entry of Default
Final Judgment (Doc. # 32) and on the Motion for Entitlement
to and Award of Attorney's Fees and Costs (Doc. # 33)
both filed by Plaintiff Ceres Pettus
(“Plaintiff”). After the Clerk's Entries of
Default as to Defendants Eric Griffin (“Griffin”)
and Fine Line Racing, Inc. (“FLR”) (collectively
“Defendants”) (Docs. # 24, 30), Plaintiff seeks a
default judgment for damages in the amount of $40, 446.00.
(Doc. # 32). Plaintiff also requests attorney's fees and
costs under 29 U.S.C. § 216(b) in the amounts of $5,
495.00 and $619.40. (Doc. #33). For the reasons outlined
below, the court finds that both motions (Docs. # 32, 33) are
due to be granted.
August 3, 2016, Plaintiff filed this action against
Defendants, seeking to recover unpaid overtime wages under
the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”),
U.S.C. §201 et seq. (Doc. # 1). Service by
certified mail was requested pursuant to Federal Rule of
Civil Procedure 4(e)(1) and Alabama Rule of Civil Procedure
4(i)(2). (Doc. # 3). The Clerk sent copies of the summons and
complaint to Defendants on August 15, 2016. (Doc. # 4). The
summons was returned executed as to Defendant Griffin on
August 19, 2016, but Griffin failed to answer or otherwise
respond to the complaint. Plaintiff filed a Motion for Entry
of Default as to Defendant Griffin (Doc. # 6) on September
26, 2017. That motion (Doc. # 6) and a later amendment (Doc.
# 9) were denied for failure to follow the requirements of 50
U.S.C. § 3931. (Doc. # 11).
Defendant FLR, the summons was returned as
“unclaimed” on September 27, 2016, despite
Plaintiff's attempts to serve FLR using both a process
server and certified mail. (Docs. # 7, 10). The court allowed
Plaintiff until December 5, 2016 to effectuate service on
FLR. (Doc. # 11). When FLR had still not been served as of
January 13, 2017, Plaintiff filed a Motion for Extension of
Time, arguing that FLR was attempting to avoid service. (Doc.
#16). However, three days after the motion was filed, the
summons was returned executed as to FLR and the motion was
deemed moot. (Docs. # 17, 18). Despite being properly served,
FLR has failed to answer or otherwise respond to the
April 4, 2017, Plaintiff filed a Motion for Entry of Default
against FLR (Doc. # 22) and a new Motion for Entry of Default
against Griffin (Doc. # 23). The Clerk of Court entered
Defendant Griffin's default on April 7, 2017. (Doc. #
24). On April 10, 2017, the Motion for Entry of Default
against Defendant FLR was denied without prejudice for
failure to reissue the August 15, 2016 summons (Doc. # 4)
after it was returned unexecuted on September 27, 2016 (Doc.
# 7). (Doc. # 25). Plaintiff was ordered to serve Defendant
FLR with a new alias summons before May 8, 2017 or face
dismissal of the defendant. (See id.). Defendant FLR
issued an alias summons on May 4, 2017. (Doc. # 26).
Plaintiff served Defendant FLR on May 19, 2017, and
Defendant's answer was due on June 9, 2017. (Doc. # 28).
23, 2017, Defendant FLR still had not filed an answer or
response, and Plaintiff filed an amended Motion for Entry of
Default against Defendant FLR. (Doc. # 29). On June 27, 2017,
the Clerk entered default as to Defendant FLR. (Doc. # 30).
On June 30, 2017, Plaintiff filed a Motion for Entry of
Default Final Judgment as to Defendants (Doc. # 32) and a
Motion for Entitlement to and Award of Attorney's Fees
and Costs (Doc. # 33).
seeks default judgment against both Defendants for the
violations alleged in her complaint. Specifically, Plaintiff
seeks: (1) actual and compensatory damages for unpaid minimum
wages; (2) an equal amount in liquidated damages; (3)
reasonable attorney's fees and costs of suit; and (4)
further relief the court deems just. (Doc. # 1 at 9).
Plaintiff's Motion for Entry of Default Judgment is
default, the defendant “admits the plaintiff's
well-pleaded allegations of fact, is concluded on those facts
by the judgment, and is barred from contesting on appeal the
facts thus established.” Eagle Hosp. Physicians,
LLC v. SRG Consulting, Inc., 561 F.3d 1298, 1307 (11th
Cir. 2009) (quoting Nishimatsu Const. Co. v. Houston
Nat'l Bank, 515 F.2d 1200, 1206 (5th Cir. 1975)).
Because both Defendants failed to plead, answer, or otherwise
respond to the complaint, default was entered by the Clerk of
the Court as to Defendant Griffin on April 7, 2017 (Doc. #
24) and as to Defendant FLR on June 27, 2017 (Doc. # 30).
Where, as here, Defendants have failed to appear,
acknowledge, or otherwise defend the pendency of this lawsuit
for over six months, entry of a default judgment is
liability is established and upon a plaintiff's request
including an affidavit showing the amount due, a final
judgment may be entered by the court without a hearing if the
claim “is for a sum certain or a sum that can be made
by computation.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 55(b)(1); see United
States Artist Corp. v. Freeman, 605 F.2d 854, 857 (5th
Cir.1979). “[A] plaintiff seeking default judgment must
show the Court what those damages are, how they are
calculated, and where they come from.” PNCEF, LLC
v. Hendricks Bldg. Supply LLC, 740 F.Supp.2d 1287, 1292
(S.D. Ala. 2010). In this case, Plaintiff's damages are
calculated based on the standards set forth in the FLSA, 29
U.S.C. § 201, et seq., and Plaintiff's
affidavit testimony indicating that she worked 70 hours a
week for $10.71 an hour (or $750 per week). (Doc. # 32-1 at
2, 3). Because overtime compensation is to be set at “a
rate not less than one and one-half times the
[employee's] regular rate, ” see 29 U.S.C.
§ 207(a)(1), Plaintiff contends that she should have
been paid $16.06 for every hour worked beyond forty hours a
week and is due $20, 223.00 in unpaid overtime wages.
(See Id. at 4). Plaintiff has adequately supported
her damages by outlining her calculations of such,
illustrating that the damages sought are “for a sum
certain or a sum that can be made by computation.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 55(b)(1). Accordingly, Plaintiff is entitled to
$20, 223.00 in unpaid overtime wages.
also moved for liquidated damages equal to her actual
damages. “When the jury finds an employer has violated
the overtime provision of the FLSA and assesses compensatory
damages, the district court generally must add an award of
liquidated damages in the same amount, which doubles the
total damages awarded.” Alvarez Perez v.
Sanford-Orlando Kennel Club, Inc., 515 F.3d 1150, 1163
(11th Cir. 2008); see 29 U.S.C. § 216(b). An
exception exists, however, if the employer can successfully
show that they acted in good faith and had reasonable grounds
for believing that they were not in violation of the FLSA. 29
U.S.C. § 260; see Rodriguez v. Farm Stores Grocery,
Inc., 518 F.3d 1259, 1272 (11th Cir. 2008) (“Under
the FLSA a district court must award a plaintiff liquidated
damages that are equal in amount to actual damages.”).
Because Defendants failed to appear or otherwise respond to
Plaintiff's service of process, Defendants failed to show
that they acted in good faith. As such, Plaintiff is owed
liquidated damages in an additional amount equal to her
unpaid wages ($20, 223.00), and judgment is due to be entered
in the amount $40, 446.00.
Plaintiff's Motion for Attorney's Fees ...