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Faria v. Lima Investment Solutions LLC

United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Orlando Division

June 24, 2019

ENDER FARIA, Plaintiff,



         This cause came on for consideration without oral argument on the following motion:

FILED: June 11, 2019
THEREON it is RECOMMENDED that the motion be GRANTED.

         I. BACKGROUND.

         On March 19, 2019, Plaintiff filed a Complaint (the “Complaint”) against Defendant. Doc. No. 1. Plaintiff, who was employed by Defendant as a service agent from December 2017 to November 2018, alleges that he was not paid overtime wages for work he performed in excess of forty hours per week and that he was not paid a proper minimum wage. Doc. No. 1. As a result, the Complaint asserts claims for unpaid overtime wages and minimum wages under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”). Id.

         On May 3, 2019, a return of service was filed, in which the process server averred that she served “Eric Lisee, a person in charge at recipient's private mailbox location at the address of 3956 Town Center Blvd., #657, Orlando, Florida 32827; the only address known after reasonable investigation and after determining that the person or business to be served maintains a mailbox at this location, in compliance with Florida Statute 48.031(6).” Doc. No. 13.[1] On May 3, 2019, Faria filed an amended Motion for Entry of Default, and the Clerk entered a default against Defendants on May 6, 2019. Doc. Nos. 14 and 15. On May 22, 2019, Plaintiff filed a motion for extension of time to file a motion for final default judgment which was granted by this Court on May 23, 2019. Doc. Nos. 16, 17.

         On June 11, 2019, Plaintiff filed a Motion for Entry of Default Final Judgment (the “Motion”). Doc. No. 18. In addition to the Motion, Plaintiff filed affidavits in support of his claim for $1, 785.26 in unpaid minimum wage and overtime wages, $1, 785.26 in liquidated damages, and $460.00 in costs. Doc. Nos. 18-1, 18-2. Plaintiff is not seeking attorney's fees. Doc. No. 18 at 3.


         The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure establish a two-step process for obtaining a default judgment. First, when a party against whom a judgment for affirmative relief is sought fails to plead or otherwise defend as provided by the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, and that fact is made to appear by affidavit or otherwise, the Clerk enters a default. Fed.R.Civ.P. 55(a). Second, after obtaining a clerk's default, the plaintiff must move for default judgment. Fed.R.Civ.P. 55(b). Before entering default judgment, the court must ensure that it has jurisdiction over the claims and parties, and that the well-pleaded factual allegations of the complaint, which are assumed to be true, adequately state a claim for which relief may be granted. Nishimatsu Constr. Co. v. Houston Nat'l Bank, 515 F.2d 1200, 1206 (5th Cir. 1975).[2]

         A complaint must contain “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). This standard does not require detailed factual allegations, but does demand “more than an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). To this end, the “complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'” Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). To state a plausible claim for relief, plaintiff must go beyond merely pleading the “sheer possibility” of unlawful activity by a defendant and offer “factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Id. (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). If a plaintiff fails to meet this pleading standard, then the plaintiff will not be entitled to default judgment.

         If a plaintiff is entitled to default judgment, then the court must consider whether the plaintiff is entitled to the relief requested in the motion for default judgment. With respect to a request for damages, the plaintiff bears the burden of demonstrating entitlement to the amount of damages sought in the motion for default judgment. Wallace v. The Kiwi Grp., Inc., 247 F.R.D. 679, 681 (M.D. Fla. 2008). Unlike well-pleaded allegations of fact, allegations relating to the amount of damages are not admitted by virtue of default; rather, the court must determine both the amount and character of damages. Id. (citing Miller v. Paradise of Port Richey, Inc., 75 F.Supp.2d 1342, 1346 (M.D. Fla. 1999)). Therefore, even in the default judgment context, “[a] 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 Adolph Coors Co. v. Movement Against Racism and 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 a basis for an award of damages). Ordinarily, unless a plaintiff's claim against a defaulting defendant is for a liquidated sum or one capable of mathematical calculation, the law requires the district court to hold an evidentiary hearing to fix the amount of damages. See S.E.C. v. Smyth, 420 F.3d 1225, 1231 (11th Cir. 2005). No. hearing is needed, however, “when the district court already has a wealth of evidence from the party requesting the hearing, such that any additional evidence would be truly unnecessary to a fully informed determination of damages.” See Id. at 1232 n.13; see also Wallace, 247 F.R.D. at 681 (“a hearing is not necessary if sufficient evidence is submitted to support the request for damages”). A plaintiff may use affidavits in an effort to quantify the damages claim. Adolph Coors, 777 F.2d at 1544.

         III. ANALYSIS.

         A. Clerk's Default.

         Under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, a corporation may be served pursuant to: 1) the laws of the state where the district court is located or where service is made; or 2) the methods of service provided in the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Fed.R.Civ.P. 4(h)(1). The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and Florida law each provide that a corporation may be served by serving the corporation's registered agent. Fed.R.Civ.P. 4(h)(1)(B); Fla Stat. § 48.081(3)(a) (2016).

         Service of process on a corporation may be made by service on a registered agent designated by the corporation. Fla. Stat. §§ 48.081(3)(c), 48.091. Pursuant to section 48.081(3)(b), Florida Statutes, “[i]f the address for the registered agent is a . . . private mailbox . . . service on the corporation may be made by serving the registered agent . . . in accordance with” section 48.031, Florida Statutes. Service may be made by “leaving a copy of the process with the person in charge of the private mailbox” when the only address ...

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