United States District Court, E.D. Texas, Sherman Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
L. MAZZANT UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
before the Court is Plaintiff Alejandra Graham's Motion
for Default Judgment (Dkt. #12). Having considered the
relevant pleadings and Plaintiff's supplemental briefing
on damages (Dkt. #21), the Court finds the motion is granted.
case involving claims under the Fair Labor Standards Act
(“FLSA”), 29 U.S.C. §§ 201 et seq. and
the Texas Minimum Wage Act (“TMWA”) (Dkt. #2).
Plaintiff Alejandra 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).
August 12, 2016, Plaintiff Alejandra Graham filed a complaint
with this Court under the FLSA and the TMWA (Dkt. #1). On
August 15, 2016, Plaintiff filed an amended complaint (Dkt.
#2). 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. On June 15, 2017, the
Court issued a Memorandum Opinion and Order granting default
judgment on liability, but required Plaintiff to submit
additional briefing to support her claim for damages (Dkt.
#16). On January 25, 2018, Plaintiff filed a Supplemental
Brief in Support of Plaintiff's Motion for Default
Judgment (Dkt. #21).
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. 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. Next, an entry of default may be entered by the clerk
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. Fed.R.Civ.P. 55(b); New
York Life Ins., 84 F.3d at 141.
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).
entries of default judgment are generally disfavored in the
law, entry of a default judgment is not an abuse of
discretion when a defendant fails to answer a complaint.
Lacey v. Sitel Corp., 227 F.3d 290, 292
(5th Cir. 2000); Bonanza Int'l, Inc. v.
Corceller, 480 F.2d 613, 614 (5th Cir. 1973), cert.
denied, 414 U.S. 1073 (1973). Prevailing law within the
Fifth Circuit sets forth factors for courts to weigh when
determining whether to enter default judgment:
Relevant factors include whether material issues of fact are
at issue, 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 defendant's motion.
Lindsey v. Prive Corp., 161 F.3d 886, 893 (5th Cir.
1998) (internal citations omitted).
the Clerk enters a default, “the plaintiff's
well-pleaded factual allegations are taken as true, except
regarding damages.” U.S. for Use of M-Co Constr.,
Inc. v. Shipco Gen., Inc., 814 F.2d 1011, 1014 (5th Cir.
1987). A court may hold a hearing if necessary to conduct an
accounting, determine the amount of damages, establish the
truth of any allegation by evidence, or to investigate any
other manner. Fed.R.Civ.P. 55(b)(2). A hearing is not
necessary if damages can be determined on the papers.
See Fed. R. Civ. P. 55(b)(2). Defendants failed to
file a responsive pleading, the clerk entered a default
Court finds as follows:
Court has jurisdiction over the parties and subject matter,
and venue is proper in this Court.
Summons and Complaint were served on Defendants.
Defendants failed to answer or otherwise defend, as provided
by the Federal Rules of Civil ...