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Nasufi v. King Cable Inc.

United States District Court, N.D. Texas, Dallas Division

December 19, 2017

HAMDIJA (FRANK) NASUFI, individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated Plaintiff,
v.
KING CABLE INC, and MANUEL GONZALES Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          JANE J. BOYLE, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Before the Court is Plaintiff Frank Nasufi's Motion for Default Judgment against Defendant King Cable Inc. Doc. 79. For the following reasons, the Court GRANTS in part and DENIES in part Plaintiff's Motion.

         I.

         BACKGROUND

         This is a collective-action case brought pursuant to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Nasufi alleges that he was employed by King Cable as a cable technician from December 2013 to June 2015, during which time he was not paid for all hours worked and was not paid at the lawful regular or overtime rates. Doc. 47, Am. Compl., ¶¶ 2-5, 22. Nasufi also claims that King Cable's violations of the FLSA were willful. Id. ¶ 6. Plaintiff's suit includes at least sixty-two opt-in plaintiffs who make the same claims. Id. ¶¶ 49-50; Docs. 28-42, 44 Notice of Filing Consent Forms. King Cable filed its answer on November 30, 2015. Doc. 14, Answer. On February 3, 2017, Defendants' counsel filed a Motion to Withdraw, Doc. 54, which the Court granted after warning King Cable that, because it was a corporation, it could not proceed without an attorney. Doc. 58, Order; see Doc. 63 Order, 1 (“the Court held a hearing to resolve Defendants' counsel Motion to Withdraw” during which “[t]he Court . . . warned King Cable's officer that . . . it could not proceed without an attorney). Defendants' counsel also withdrew as to Defendant Manuel Gonzales, but as an individual Mr. Gonzales was allowed to proceed pro se. Mr. Gonzales then filed for bankruptcy, which stayed proceedings against him. Doc. 65, Notice of Bankruptcy.

         Since King Cable's counsel withdrew, King Cable has failed to retain new counsel or to respond or otherwise defend itself. Therefore, Nasufi moved to strike King Cable's answer. Doc. 59, Mot. to Strike. The Court granted Nasufi's Motion to Strike and ordered him to file a Motion for Default Judgment. Doc. 63, Order. Nasufi filed his Motion for Default Judgment on May 26, 2017, Doc. 79, and the clerk entered default the same day, Doc. 78. Nasufi's Motion is ripe for review.

         II.

         LEGAL STANDARD

         Rule 55 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure authorizes the Court to enter a default judgment against a defendant who has failed to plead or otherwise defend upon motion of the plaintiff. Fed.R.Civ.P. 55(b). That being said, “[d]efault judgments are 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). A party is not entitled to a default judgment merely because the defendant is technically in default. Ganther v. Ingle, 75 F.3d 207, 212 (5th Cir. 1996). “Rather, a default judgment is generally committed to the discretion of the district court.” United States v. 1998 Freightliner Vin #: 1FUYCZYB3WP886986, 548 F.Supp.2d 381, 384 (W.D. Tex. 2008).

         In determining whether a default judgment should be entered against a defendant, courts have developed a three-part analysis. Id. First, courts consider whether the entry of default judgment is procedurally warranted. See Lindsey v. Prive Corp., 161 F.3d 886, 893 (5th Cir. 1998). The factors relevant to this inquiry include:

[1] whether material issues of fact are at issue; [2] whether there has been substantial prejudice; [3] whether the grounds for default are clearly established; [4 ]whether the default was caused by a good faith mistake or excusable neglect; [5] the harshness of a default judgment; and [6] whether the court would think itself obliged to set aside the default on the defendant's motion.

Id.

         Second, courts assess the substantive merits of the plaintiff's claims and determine whether there is a sufficient basis in the pleadings for the judgment. See Nishimatsu Constr. Co., Ltd. v. Hous. Nat'l Bank, 515 F.2d 1200, 1206 (5th Cir. 1975) (noting that “default is not treated as an absolute confession by the defendant of his liability and of the plaintiff's right to recover”). In doing so, courts are to assume that due to its default, the defendant admits all well-pleaded facts in the plaintiff's complaint. Id. However, a “defendant is not held to admit facts that are not-well pleaded or to admit conclusions of law.” Id.

         Third, courts determine “what form of relief, if any, the [plaintiff] should receive.” 1998 Freightliner, 548 F.Supp.2d at 384. Normally, damages are not to be awarded without a hearing or a demonstration by detailed affidavits establishing the necessary facts. See United Artists Corp. v. Freeman, 605 F.2d 854, 857 (5th Cir. 1979). But if the amount of damages can be determined with mathematical calculation by ...


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