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Vickers v. Luschak

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

June 19, 2018

RYAN VICKERS Plaintiff,
v.
IGOR LUSCHAK, FREIGHTER, INC., and CONVOY, INC., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          JANE J. BOYLE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Before the Court is Plaintiff Ryan Vickers's Motion for Default Judgment. Doc. 12. For the reasons stated below, the Motion is GRANTED in part and DENIED in part.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Ryan Vickers filed this lawsuit against Defendants on December 30, 2017. Doc. 1, Compl. Mr. Vickers alleges that Defendants failed to pay him minimum and overtime wages in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act, as amended, 29 U.S.C. § 201 et seq. (FLSA). Id. ¶ 23. On January 29, 2018, Mr. Vickers filed a Motion for Substitute Service of Process against Defendants, Doc. 5, which the Court granted, Doc. 6. Substitute service was made on all Defendants on February 3. Docs. 7-9. Defendants neither submitted an answer nor otherwise made an appearance in this case despite having been served.

         On February 27, 2018, Mr. Vickers requested the Clerk enter default judgment against all Defendants, Doc. 10, and the Clerk did so the same day, Doc. 11. On May 23, 2018, Mr. Vickers filed this Motion for Default Judgment, Doc. 12, which 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 reference to the pleadings and supporting documents, a hearing is unnecessary. James v. Frame, 6 F.3d 307, 310 (5th Cir. 1993).

         III.

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