United States District Court, S.D. Florida
ALTMAN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
MATTER comes before the Court upon the
Plaintiff's Amended Motion (âAm. Motionâ) for Entry of
Final Default Judgment, filed on August 30, 2019 [ECF No.
20]. Both Defendants have failed to appear, answer, or
otherwise respond to the Complaint, despite having been
served on July 4, 2019 [ECF Nos. 13-1 and 13-2]. As a result,
the Clerk entered Default against both Defendants on August
8, 2019 [ECF No. 15]. The Court has carefully considered the
Am. Motion, the record, and the applicable law.
to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 55(b)(2), the Court may
enter a final default judgment against any party who has
failed to respond to the complaint. But “a
defendant's default does not in itself warrant the court
entering a default judgment. There 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). See also
Buchanan v. Bowman, 820 F.2d 359, 361 (11th Cir. 1987)
(“[L]iability is well-pled in the complaint, and is
therefore established by the entry of default.”
Plaintiff brought this action to recover unpaid minimum and
overtime wages-along with liquidated damages-under the Fair
Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”), 29 U.S.C. §
201 et seq. A defendant who fails to pay an employee
in accordance with the FLSA “shall be liable to the
employee or employees affected in the amount of their unpaid
minimum wages, or their unpaid overtime compensation, as the
case may be, and in an additional equal amount as liquidated
damages.” 29 U.S.C. § 216(b). On the other hand,
Section 216(b) of the FLSA does not permit a plaintiff to
recover any allegedly unpaid regular wages-so long
as the plaintiff's regular wages exceeded the statutorily
mandated minimum wage. See Bolick v. Brevard County
Sheriff's Dep't., 937 F.Supp. 1560, 1568 (M.D.
Fla. 1996). Put another way, by its express terms, Section
216(b) provides a remedy only for unpaid minimum wages or
unpaid overtime compensation.
Court has carefully reviewed the Plaintiff's submissions
and finds sufficient evidence to support the entry of a
default judgment here. In particular, the Plaintiff has submitted
an uncontested declaration-in which he avers that the
Defendants failed to pay him for certain hours he worked.
See generally Vertilus Decl. [ECF No. 17-1]. The
Plaintiff has also attached an Exhibit, which, he says,
supports his allegation that the Defendants failed to pay him
what he was owed. Id. at 4-7. Taken together, the
Plaintiff's unpaid minimum wages total $7,
849.17, and his unpaid overtime wages total $3,
041.29. The Plaintiff's evidence, then, supports the
proposition that he is entitled to a total of $21,
780.92-$10, 890.46 in unpaid wages and an additional $10,
890.46 in liquidated damages.
Plaintiff is also entitled to attorney's fees and costs.
Under Section 216(b), an employee may recover “a
reasonable attorney's fee to be paid by the defendant,
and costs of the action.” The proper method for
determining attorney's fees is to multiply a reasonable
hourly rate by a reasonable number of hours expended. See
Gray v. Lockheed Aeronautical Sys. Co., 125 F.3d 1387,
1389 (11th Cir. 1997). A reasonable hourly rate is “the
prevailing market rate in the relevant legal community for
similar services by lawyers of reasonably comparable skills,
experience, and reputation.” Id.
Plaintiff seeks $6, 120.00 in attorney's fees and $736.18
in costs. Plaintiff's counsel indicates that his hourly
rate is $450.00 per hour. Declaration of Michael Elkins, Esq.
[ECF No. 20-2 at ¶ 11]. Mr. Elkins' affidavit also
details his work in the case-a total of 13.6 hours.
Id. ¶ 8. The Court finds counsel's hourly
rate somewhat excessive and concludes that a rate of $375.00
is more appropriate here. See Echavarria v. Am. Valet
Parking, No. 14-80770-CIV, 2015 WL 12746113, at *2 (S.D.
Fla. July 1, 2015) (finding that $375.00 per hour is
“at the high end of the range of rates charged in the
Southern District of Florida for . . . FLSA lawyers”).
On the other hand, the Court does find reasonable the number
of hours counsel expended on the case. Therefore, the total
amount of recoverable attorney's fees is $5, 100.00.
Additionally, the Plaintiff seeks to recover $736.18 in
costs, including filing and process server fees, which the
Court finds reasonable. Am. Motion at 6. Accordingly, the
AND ADJUDGES as follows:
1. The Am. Motion [ECF No. 20] is GRANTED in part and
DENIED in part as described above.
2. Default judgment is entered in favor of the Plaintiff and
against the Defendants, jointly and severally, in the amount
of $21, 617.10, which consists of a total of $10, 890.46 in
unpaid minimum and/or overtime wages, $10, 890.46 in
liquidated damages, and $5, 836.18 in attorney's fees and
costs to the Plaintiffs counsel, Michael Elkins, Esq.- for
which execution shall now issue.
3 This case is DISMISSED with prejudice
4. All other pending motions are DENIED as
5. The Clerk is directed to ADMINISTRATIVELY
CLOSE this case.
6. The Court retains jurisdiction over this case and over the
parties for the purpose of entering any post-judgment orders