United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Tampa Division
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
HONORABLE CHRISTOPHER P. TUTTE, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE
cause is before me on referral for consideration of the
Plaintiff's Motion for Entry of Final Default
Judgment Against Defendants S.C. Maintenance, Inc. and Steven
Clements. (Doc. 19). For the reasons discussed below, I
respectfully recommend that the Plaintiff's motion be
Ruben Cabreja initiated this action in February 2019 under
the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) against his former
employers, Defendant S.C. Maintenance, Inc. (SC Maintenance),
a “cleaning/janitorial company” located in Polk
County, and S.C. Maintenance's owner/operator, Defendant
Steven Clements. (Doc. 1). In brief, Cabreja alleges he
worked for the Defendants from September 2018 to October 2018
cleaning floors at night in stores such as Ross, Walgreens,
Publix, and Big Lots. Id. at 2, 4. He asserts he was
paid $100 per night for his services and was classified as a
non-exempt employee. Id. at 4. Although he worked
more than eight hours a night, six nights a week, Cabreja
states he was not paid an overtime premium when he logged in
excess of forty hours in a work week. Id. at 5. In
addition, he claims the Defendants failed to pay him
altogether for several days of labor. Id.
on these allegations, Cabreja asserts three counts: willful
violation of the FLSA for the Defendants' failure to pay
him overtime compensation (Count I); unpaid wages under
Florida common law (Count II); and willful violation of the
FLSA due to the Defendants' failure to pay him the
statutory minimum wage (Count III). Id. at 6-7. To
redress these alleged harms, Cabreja seeks unpaid overtime
and minimum wage compensation, liquidated damages, common-law
unpaid wages, interest, costs, and attorney's fees.
Id. at 8.
Clements and S.C. Maintenance were served with the summons
and complaint on February 14 and February 27, 2019,
respectively. (Docs. 8, 10). Neither Defendant responded to
the complaint, however, and the Clerk of Court entered
defaults against each of them in March 2019. (Docs. 13, 17).
thereafter filed the instant motion seeking the entry of a
default judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
55(b)(1), or, in the alternative, Rule 55(b)(2). (Doc. 19).
Cabrera executed and filed an affidavit in support of his
claims, and included a declaration from his attorney, Cynthia
Gonzalez, pertaining to the attorney's fees and costs
incurred in pursuing the action. Id.
13, 2019, the Court directed Cabreja's counsel to
supplement her affidavit to itemize the time she expended on
this litigation. (Doc. 21). In accordance with that Order,
counsel filed a supplemental affidavit on May 20, 2019. (Doc.
22). As a result, the matter is now ripe for the Court's
a party against whom a judgment for affirmative relief is
sought has failed to plead or otherwise defend, and that
failure is shown by affidavit or otherwise, the clerk must
enter the party's default.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 55(a).
Once a Clerk's default has been entered, a plaintiff may
apply for a default judgment to either the Clerk or the
Court. Fed.R.Civ.P. 55(b).
granting such a motion, the courts must “ensure that it
has jurisdiction over the claims and parties.” Sec.
and Exch. Comm'n v. Martin, 2019 WL 1649948, at *2
(M.D. Fla. Apr. 1, 2019), report and recommendation
adopted, 2019 WL 1643203 (M.D. Fla. Apr. 16, 2019);
see also Sys. Pipe & Supply, Inc. v. M/V Viktor
Kurnatovskiy, 242 F.3d 322, 324 (5th Cir. 2001)
(“[W]hen entry of judgment is sought against a party
who has failed to plead or otherwise defend, the district
court has an affirmative duty to look into its jurisdiction
both over the subject matter and the parties.”)
jurisdiction is established, the Court may enter default
judgment if “there is ‘a sufficient basis in the
pleadings for the judgment entered.'” Surtain
v. Hamlin Terrace Found., 789 F.3d 1239, 1245 (11th Cir.
2015) (per curiam) (quoting Nishimatsu Constr. Co., Ltd.
v. Houston Nat'l Bank, 515 F.2d 1200, 1206 (5th Cir.
1975)). The showing required in this context “is
similar to the factual showing necessary to survive a motion
to dismiss for failure to state a claim.” Graveling
v. Castle Mortg. Co., 631 Fed.Appx. 690, 698 (11th Cir.
2015) (citing Surtain, 789 F.3d at 1245); see
also Chudasama v. Mazda Motor Corp., 123 F.3d 1353, 1370
n.41 (11th Cir. 1997) (“[A] default judgment cannot
stand on a complaint that fails to state a claim.”).
Thus, a court looks to see whether the complaint
“contain[s] sufficient factual matter, accepted as
true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on
its face.'” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S.
662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). However,
“while a defaulted defendant is deemed to admit the
plaintiff's well-pleaded allegations of fact, he is not
held to admit facts that are not well-pleaded or to admit
conclusions of law.” Cotton v. Mass. Mut. Life Ins.
Co., 402 F.3d 1267, 1278 (11th Cir. 2005) (internal
alteration and quotation omitted).
claim for liability is adequately pleaded, the court must
then assess its ability to measure damages. To this end, the
“court has an obligation to assure that there is a
legitimate basis for any damage award it enters.”
Anheuser-Busch, Inc. v. Philpot, 317 F.3d 1264, 1266
(11th Cir. 2003); see also Adolph Coors Co. v. Movement
Against Racism & the Klan, 777 F.2d 1538, 1544 (11th
Cir. 1985) (explaining that damages may be awarded on default
judgment only if the record adequately reflects the basis for
award). “Rather than merely telling the Court
in summary fashion what its damages are, a plaintiff seeking
default judgment must show the Court what those
damages are, how they are calculated, and where they come
from.” PNCEF, LLC v. Hendricks Bldg. Supply
LLC, 740 F.Supp.2d 1287, 1294 (S.D. Ala. 2010).
warranted, the court may conduct an evidentiary hearing on
the issue of damages. Fed.R.Civ.P. 55(b)(2)(B). Such a
hearing is “not a per se requirement, ”
however, and is not mandated where the sought-after damages
amount is a liquidated sum, is capable of mathematic
calculation, or “where all [the] essential evidence is
already of record.” SEC v. Smyth, 420 F.3d
1225, 1232, n.13 (11th Cir. 2005) (citing S.E.C. v. First
Fin. Group of Tex., Inc., 659 F.2d 660, 669 (5th Cir.
the considerations-jurisdiction, liability, and damages-is
addressed in turn below.
with jurisdiction, it is clear that the Court has
federal-question jurisdiction over Cabreja's FLSA claims.
29 U.S.C. § 216(b) (FLSA actions may be brought
“in any Federal or State court of competent
jurisdiction”); 28 U.S.C. § 1331 (conferring
original jurisdiction for “all civil actions arising
under the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United
States”); Quinn v. Dermatech Research, LLC,
2019 WL 1586736, at *1 (M.D. Fla. Apr. 12, 2019) (“This
Court has federal question subject matter jurisdiction due to
the FLSA claims.”).
Court also has supplemental jurisdiction over Cabreja's
related state-law unpaid wage claim in light of its original
jurisdiction over the FLSA claims. 28 U.S.C. § 1367
(providing supplemental jurisdiction over claims “so
related to claims in the action within [the Court's]
original jurisdiction that they form part of the same case or
controversy”); Sims v. Unation, LLC, 292
F.Supp.3d 1286, 1299 (M.D. Fla. 2018) (finding court had
supplemental jurisdiction over plaintiff's state-law
unpaid wage claim where it had original jurisdiction under
Court likewise has personal jurisdiction over the Defendants.
As alleged in the complaint, SC Maintenance is a Florida
corporation with its principal place of business in Polk
County. (Doc. 1 at 2-3); Goodyear Dunlop Tires
Operations, S.A. v. Brown, 564 U.S. 915, 924 (2011)
(noting that a corporate defendant's place of
incorporation and/or principal place of business is a
“paradigm” basis for the exercise of general
jurisdiction). As also alleged in the complaint, Clements is
a “resident” of the State of Florida who owned
and operated S.C. Maintenance in Polk County. (Doc. 1 at
2-3). Furthermore, the returns of service filed
in this action evidence that S.C. Maintenance was properly
served with the summons and complaint ...