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Rivas v. LJUS Concepts, LLC

United States District Court, W.D. Texas, San Antonio Division

June 3, 2019

LOUIS RIVAS, Plaintiff,
v.
LJUS CONCEPTS, LLC, and BRIAN SCHOEMAN, Defendants.

          ORDER ON MOTION FOR DEFAULT JUDGMENT

          XAVIER RODRIGUEZ UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         On this date, the Court considered Plaintiff's Motion for Default Judgment against Defendants Ljus Concepts, LLC, and Brian Schoeman (docket no. 10). After careful consideration, the Court GRANTS Plaintiff's motion.

         Background

         On January 29, 2019, Plaintiff Louis Rivas brought this claim against Defendants Ljus Concepts, LLC, and Brian Schoeman for unpaid wage compensation under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”). Docket no. 1.

         Ljus Concepts, a San Antonio design services company of which Schoeman is managing member, allegedly employed Plaintiff from September 2017 to January 21, 2018 as a printer. Id. at 2. Plaintiff was paid $25 per hour. He alleges he worked 50 hours per week but was not paid overtime; thus, he seeks 104.50 hours of unpaid overtime. Id. at 4. This amounts to $3, 918.75 in damages. Id. Plaintiff also seeks an equal amount in liquidated damages. Id. Finally, Plaintiff also seeks attorney's fees associated with this action. Id.

         Plaintiff alleges Defendants were aware of his work and determined and controlled his pay and work schedule. Id. He alleges Schoeman actively ran Ljus Concepts and substantially controlled the terms and conditions of Plaintiff's work. Id. He alleges Schoeman was his employer as defined in the FLSA. Id.

         On April 11, 2019, Plaintiff filed returns of service indicating Defendants were served. Docket no. 6. Defendants did not answer or otherwise respond, so on May 3 the Court ordered Plaintiff to move for entry of default and default judgment. Docket no. 7. Plaintiff moved for entry of default, docket no. 8, which the Clerk entered, docket no. 9. Now before the Court is Plaintiff's motion for default judgment against both Defendants. Docket no. 10.

         Legal Standard

         Pursuant to Rule 55(a), a default judgment is proper “[w]hen a party against whom a judgment for affirmative relief is sought has failed to plead or otherwise defend.” However, in considering any motion for default judgment, a court must examine jurisdiction, liability, and damages. The Court examines each in turn.

         Analysis I. Jurisdiction

         When a party is seeking entry of default judgment under Rule 55, “the district court has an affirmative duty to look into its jurisdiction both over the subject matter and the parties.” System Pipe & Supply, Inc. v. M/V Viktor Kurnatovskiy, 242 F.3d 322, 324 (5th Cir. 2001) (quoting Williams v. Life Savings and Loan, 802 F.2d 1200, 1203 (10th Cir. 1986)).

         The Court has jurisdiction over this FLSA claim pursuant to its federal-question jurisdiction. See 28 U.S.C. § 1331. Further, the Court has personal jurisdiction because Defendants are a Texas limited liability company doing business within this district and the managing member of that LLC. Finally, on this record it appears Defendants were properly served. Ljus Concepts was served through Schoeman, its authorized agent, and Schoeman was served personally. Docket no. 6; see also Fed. R. Civ. P. 4(e).

         II. Liability

         Next the Court considers whether the well-pleaded allegations in Plaintiff's complaint establish liability if deemed admitted. When a defendant fails to respond, his default is considered an admission of the plaintiff's well-pleaded allegations of fact related to liability. Jackson v. FIE Corp., 302 F.3d 515, 524 (5th Cir. 2002) (quoting Nishimatsu Constr. Co., Ltd. v. Houston Nat'l Bank, 515 F.2d 1200, 1206 (5th Cir. 1975)). While such allegations are presumed to be true, “a defendant's default does not in itself warrant the court in entering a default judgment. [Rather, t]here must be a sufficient basis in the pleadings for the judgment entered.” Nishimatsu Constr. Co., Ltd. v. Houston Nat'l Bank, 515 F.2d 1200, 1206 (5th Cir. 1975). In other words, the court must determine whether the well-pleaded facts state a claim upon which relief may be granted. In sum, “before entering a default judgment for damages, the district court must ensure that the well-pleaded allegations in the complaint, which are taken as true due ...


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