United States District Court, E.D. Texas, Sherman Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
L. MAZZANT UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
before the Court is Alejandra Graham's Motion for Default
Judgment (Dkt. #12). The Court, having considered the
relevant pleadings, finds the motion is granted in part.
Graham claims An Dinh Ho (“Ho”) recruited her to
become General Manager of Coconut Island Bar and Grill where
she worked for seventeen weeks without pay (Dkt. #12 at p.
1). Defendants Coconut LLC and Ho employed Plaintiff from
March 13, 2015, to April 05, 2015, on a “trial
period” basis for a payment of $200 per week (Dkt. #12
at p. 1). Plaintiff further alleges Defendants agreed to pay
$750 per week for a workweek consisting of 40 hours beginning
on April 06, 2015 (Dkt. #12 at p. 1). Although Plaintiff
alleges she worked beyond 40 hours a week, she claims that
she was never given her salary, the mandated minimum wage of
$7.25 per hour, nor an overtime rate of one-time-and-a-half
for each hour over 40 hours a week (Dkt. #12 at pp. 1-2). On
August 12, 2016, Plaintiff filed a complaint with this Court
under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”), 29
U.S.C. §§ 201 et seq. and the Texas Minimum Wage
Act (“TMWA”) (Dkt. #2). On August 15, 2016,
Plaintiff filed an amended complaint (Dkt. #12). Defendants
did not respond to either complaint. On December 23, 2016,
the Clerk of the Court entered a default against Defendants
(Dkt. #11). On January 31, 2017, Plaintiff submitted this
motion for Default Judgment (Dkt. #12). Defendants did not
file a response.
of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure sets forth certain
conditions under which default may be entered against a
party, as well as the procedure to seek the entry of default
judgment. Fed.R.Civ.P. 55. The Fifth Circuit requires a
three-step process for securing a default judgment. New
York Life Ins. Co. v. Brown, 84 F.3d 137, 141 (5th Cir.
1996). First, a default occurs when a defendant has failed to
plead or otherwise respond to the complaint within the time
required by Rule 12 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.
Fed.R.Civ.P. 55(a); New York Life Ins., 84 F.3d at
141. Second, the clerk may enter default when the default is
established by affidavit or otherwise. Fed.R.Civ.P. 55(a);
New York Life Ins., 84 F.3d at 141. Third, a
plaintiff may then apply to the clerk or the court for a
default judgment after an entry of default. Fed.R.Civ.P.
55(b); New York Life Ins., 84 F.3d at 141.
Rule 55(b)(2) grants a district court wide latitude and the
entry of default judgment is left to the sound discretion of
the trial court. James v. Frame, 6 F.3d 307, 310
(5th Cir. 1993). A defendant, by his default, admits a
plaintiff's well pleaded allegations of fact.
Nishimatsu Constr. Co., Ltd. v. Houston Nat'l
Bank, 515 F.2d 1200, 1206 (5th Cir. 1975). However, a
defendant's default does not concede the truth of
allegations of the complaint concerning damages. Jackson
v. FIE Corp., 302 F.3d 151, 524-25 (5th Cir. 2002).
determining whether to enter a default judgment against a
defendant, Courts in the Fifth Circuit utilize a three-part
analysis: 1) whether the entry of default judgment is
procedurally warranted, 2) whether a sufficient basis in the
pleadings based on the substantive merits for judgment
exists, and 3) what form of relief, if any, a plaintiff
should receive. Lindsey v. Prive Corp., 161
F.3d 886, 893 (5th Cir. 1998); Nishimatsu, 515 F.2d
at 1206; 1998 Freightliner Vin #: 1FUYCZYB3WP886986,
548 F.Supp.2d 381, 384 (W.D. Tex. 2008).
Court must first determine whether a default judgment is
procedurally warranted. After reviewing Plaintiff's
Motion, the Court determines that default judgment is
procedurally warranted because the grounds for default are
established and neither substantial prejudice nor good faith
mistake are present. The Fifth Circuit in Lindsey
recognized six factors relevant to the inquiry of whether a
default judgment is procedurally warranted:
 whether material issues of fact exist;  whether there
has been substantial prejudice;  whether the grounds for
default are clearly established;  whether the default was
caused by a good faith mistake or excusable neglect;  the
harshness of a default judgment; and  whether the court
would think itself obliged to set aside the default on the
Lindsey, 161 F.3d at 893. First, no material issues
of fact are present. As noted in Nishimatsu, when a
defendant defaults, he admits to the plaintiff's
well-pleaded allegations of fact. 515 F.2d at 1206.
Therefore, no material facts are in dispute. See
Lindsey, 161 F.3d at 893. Second, Plaintiff has been
substantially prejudiced because Defendants have been
nonresponsive for a nine-month period and this failure to
respond “threatens to bring the adversary process to a
halt, effectively prejudicing plaintiff's
interest.” See id. Third, the grounds for
default are clearly established because Defendants have been
unresponsive, and if the failure to respond is “plainly
willful, as reflected by [the parties'] failure to
respond either to the summons and complaint, the entry of
default, or the motion for default” then default
judgment is appropriate. Holladay v. OTA Training,
LLC, 3:14-CV-0519-B, 2015 WL 5916440, at *4 (N.D.
Tex. Oct. 8, 2015) (quoting Cumins Ins. Soc'y, Inc.
v. Billups, 10-1478, 2010 WL 4384228, at *2 (D.D.C Nov.
4, 2010)). Fourth, nothing in the record provides evidence
that Defendants' lack of response is due to good faith
mistake or excusable neglect. See Lindsey, 161 F.3d
at 893. Fifth, the harshness of the default judgment is not
great because Plaintiff is only seeking “the relief to
which she is entitled under the FLSA.” See
Holladay, 2015 WL 5916440, at *5. Lastly, no facts lead
this Court to believe “good cause” is present to
set aside the default. See Lindsey, 161 F.3d at 893.
Therefore, the Court determines that default judgment is
establishing that default judgment is procedurally warranted,
the Court must determine if a sufficient basis for the
pleadings is present. Although defendants are deemed to have
admitted the allegations set forth in a plaintiff's
complaint in light of an entry of default, the Court must
review the pleadings to determine whether the complaint
presents a sufficient basis for relief. Nishimatsu,
515 F.2d at 1206. The Fifth Circuit looks to Rule 8 case law
for guidance in determining whether a complaint is
sufficient. Wooten v. McDonald Transit Assocs.,
Inc., 788 F.3d 490, 498 (5th Cir. 2015). Rule 8 (a)(2)
requires a pleading to contain “a short and plain
statement showing pleader is entitled to relief.”
Id. The purpose of this requirement is to give a
defendant fair notice of what the claim is and the grounds
upon which it rests. Id. (quoting Bell Atl.
Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). The factual
allegations in the complaint need only “be enough to
raise a right to relief above the speculative level, on the
assumption that all the allegations in the complaint are true
(even if doubtful in fact).” Id. Detailed
factual allegations are not required, but the pleading must
be more than an “unadorned, the
defendant-unlawfully-harmed me accusation.”
Id. (quoting Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S.
662, 678 (2009)).
Court finds a sufficient basis for the pleadings because
Plaintiff has adequately alleged that she was an employee
engaged in commerce or the production of goods for commerce
and that Defendants were her employers within the meaning of
the FLSA. An employee is covered by the FLSA if she is
“employed by an enterprise engaged in commerce or in
the production of goods for commerce.” 29 U.S.C. §
207(a)(1) (2017). The FLSA defines an enterprise engaged in
commerce as a company that: 1) has two or more employees
“handling, selling, or otherwise working on goods or