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Senegal v. TAS Foods LLC

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

June 21, 2019

Eric Senegal, Plaintiff,
v.
TAS Foods, LLC, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM, OPINION, ORDER AND FINAL JUDGMENT

          GRAY H. MILLER, SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Pending before the court is a motion for default judgment filed by plaintiff Eric Senegal against defendant TAS Foods, LLC (“TAS”). Dkt. 34. TAS has not responded to the motion. Having considered the motion and applicable law, the court is of the opinion that the motion (Dkt. 34) should be GRANTED.

         I. Background

         In 2016, Senegal and three other people were hired to work at a Kentucky Fried Chicken location. Dkt. 1 at 2. However, Senegal was never given a shift and never began working. Id. Later, “other employees” informed Senegal that “the manager had referred to him as a fa-ot and said he needed to change his voice.” Id.

         Senegal sued Yum! Brands, Inc. (“Yum! Brands”) and TAS under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, alleging that the defendants are “joint employers” of the KFC where Senegal was hired. Id. Senegal contends that the KFC manager “did not want Senegal, a gay male, to work at the restaurant because of Senegal's sexual orientation and/or because of expectations for Senegal to act as a stereotypical male.” Id.

         On March 20, 2019, Senegal filed his First Amended Complaint. Dkt. 29. The complaint dropped Senegal's claims against Yum! Brands, leaving TAS Foods as the sole defendant. Id. TAS was eventually served with the First Amended Complaint on April 12, 2019, via first class mail and email. Dkt. 33. TAS failed to file an answer or responsive pleading to the First Amended Complaint prior to the May 3, 2019 deadline.

         II. Legal Standard

         Under Rule 55(b)(2), a party may apply for the court to enter a default judgment. These rules “are designed for the just, speedy, and inexpensive disposition of cases on their merits, not for the termination of litigation by procedural maneuver. Default 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 default judgment “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 fiduciary. Fed.R.Civ.P. 55(b). Additionally, a court may enter a default judgment only after the plaintiff files an affidavit regarding the defendant's military status. 50 U.S.C. § 3931. Local Rule 5.5 requires a motion for default judgment to be served upon the defendant via certified mail, return receipt requested. S.D. Tex. L.R. 5.5.

         III. Analysis

         Senegal served TAS with the First Amended Complaint on April 12, 2019, via first class mail and email. Dkt. 33. TAS never filed an answer or responsive pleading. On May 9, 2019, Senegal served the motion for default judgment on TAS via certified mail, return receipt requested, as required by the Local Rules. Dkt. 34. TAS failed to file an answer or responsive pleading prior to the May 30, 2019 deadline. Senegal has also shown that TAS is not a minor, incompetent person, or in the military. Id. Because TAS has failed to plead or otherwise defend, the court may: (1) enter default against TAS; (2) accept all well-pleaded facts in the complaint as true; and (3) if he has stated a valid claim, award Senegal the relief he seeks. Nishimatsu, 515 F.2d at 1206.

         A. Sexual Orientation Claims

         Senegal's initial complaint against TAS alleged sexual orientation discrimination. Dkt. 1. However, the court dismissed those claims (Dkt. 25) because Title VII does not protect against sexual orientation discrimination in the Fifth Circuit. Senegal v. Yum! Brands, Inc., No. H-18-1734, 2019 WL 448943, at *5 (S.D. Tex. Feb. 5, 2019)(Miller, J); see also Brandon v. Sage Corp., 808 F.3d 266, 270 n.2 (5th Cir. 2015) (“Title VII in plain terms does not cover ‘sexual orientation.'”). Thus, to the extent ...


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