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Anders v. Kashmir Road Lines, LLC

United States District Court, S.D. Texas, Houston Division

December 18, 2017

Aquino Anders, Plaintiff,
Kashmir Road Lines, LLC, Defendant.



         Pending before the court is plaintiff Aquino Anders's motion for default judgment against defendant Kashmir Road Lines, LLC ("Kashmir"). Dkt. 8. Kashmir has not responded to the motion. Having considered the motion and applicable law, the court is of the opinion that the motion should be GRANTED.

         I. Background

         Anders seeks to recover $6, 939.21 plus interest for Kashmir's violations of the overtime provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), 29 U.S.C. § 207(a).[1]Dkt. 1 at 1-2; Dkt. 8 at 1-3. Anders worked as a store clerk for Kashmir, a company that owns and operates gas stations, and convenience stores in Houston, Texas. Dkt. 1 at 1, 3. There, Anders interacted with customers, sold merchandise (including fuel, food, and drinks), operated the cash register, processed credit card transactions, and maintained the store. Id. at 3.

         Kashmir set Anders's schedule, duties, and pay. Id. Kashmir paid her eight dollars per hour. Dkt. 8, Ex. E at 1. On average, Anders worked 9.36 hours per day. Id. at 4. When Anders started her shifts early or ended her shifts late, Kashmir rounded to the next previous full hour to determine hours worked. Dkt. 1 at 3. As a result, Anders was not compensated accurately. Id.

         Further, when Anders worked overtime (in excess of forty hours in a week), Kashmir paid her for those hours at eight dollars per hour instead of an overtime rate of twelve dollars per hour (at least one-and-a-half times the hourly rate). Dkt. 1 at 4; Dkt. 8, Ex. E.

         On February 13, 2017, Anders sued Kashmir for violating the FLSA's overtime provisions. Dkt. 1. A summons was issued on the same day. Dkt. 2. On March 28, 2017, a Certified Process Server served Kashmir's registered agent, Gurdeep Singh, with a true copy of the summons by in-person delivery. Dkt. 8, Ex. A. at 4. Kashmir did not file an answer or otherwise defend the suit.

         On August 2, 2017, Anders filed the instant motion, seeking a default judgment against Kashmir for $6, 939.21 plus interest. Dkt. 8 at 3. Anders alleges that amount represents unliquidated damages of $3, 112.20 (for unpaid overtime and unpaid standard time), liquidated damages of $3, 112.20, and costs of $715.11. Id. at 2. Anders will seek attorneys' fees via a separate motion after the default judgment has been entered. Id. at 3. Anders served the motion via certified mail return receipt requested. Dkt. 9. Kashmir has not responded. The motion is now ripe for disposition.

         II. Legal Standard

         Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 55(a), "[w]hen a party against whom judgment for affirmative relief is sought has failed to plead or otherwise defend, and that failure is shown by | affidavit or otherwise, the clerk must enter the party's default." Fed.R.Civ.P. 55(a). Under Rule 55(b)(2), a party may apply for the court to enter a default judgment, and the "court may conduct hearings or make referrals-preserving any federal statutory right to a jury trial-when, to enter or effectuate judgment, it needs to: (A) conduct an accounting; (B) determine the amount of damages; (C) establish the truth of any allegation by evidence; or (D) investigate any other matter." Fed.R.Civ.P. 55(b)(2).

         A default judgment is a "drastic remedy, not favored by the Federal Rules[, ] and resorted to by courts only in extreme situations." Sun Bank of Ocala v. Pelican Homestead & Sav. Ass 'n, 874 F.2d 274, 276 (5th Cir. 1989). "The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure are designed for the just, speedy, and inexpensive disposition of cases on their merits, not for the termination of litigation by procedural maneuver." Id. A default judgment, thus, "must be 'supported by well-pleaded allegations' and must have 'a sufficient basis in the pleadings.'" Wooten v. McDonald Transit Assoc, Inc., 788 F.3d 490, 498 (5th Cir. 2015) (quoting Nishimatsu Constr. Co. v. Hou. Nat'l Bank, 515 F.2d 1200, 1206 (5th Cir. 1975)). The well-pleaded allegations in the complaint are assumed to be true, except regarding damages. Nishimatsu, 515 F.2d at 1206; see also United States v. Shipco Gen., Inc., 814 F.2d 1011, 1014 (5th Cir. 1987). However, "the defendant is not held to admit facts that are not well-pleaded or to admit conclusions of law." Nishimatsu, 515 F.2d at 1206.

         A court may not enter a default judgment against a minor or incompetent person unless the person is represented by a general guardian, conservator, or other like fiduciary who has appeared. Fed.R.Civ.P. 55(b). Additionally, a court may not enter a default judgment if the plaintiff does not file an affidavit regarding the defendant's military status. 50 App. U.S.C. § 521(1). If the defendant is in the military service, "the court may not enter a judgment until after the court appoints an attorney to represent the defendant." Id. § 521(2). Local Rule 5.5 requires that motions for default judgment "be served on the defendant-respondent by certified mail (return receipt requested)." S.D. Tex. L.R. 5.5.

         III. Analysis

         A. ...

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