United States District Court, S.D. Florida
ADIA SIMMONS, on behalf of herself and all other similarly situated individuals, Plaintiff,
TWIN 918 INC., EXECUTIVE MANAGEMENT & CONSULTANTS INTERNATIONAL, LLC, and AKINYELE ADAMS, Defendants. Timekeeper
ORDER ON MOTION FOR FINAL DEFAULT JUDGMENT
BLOOM UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
CAUSE is before the Court upon Plaintiff Adia
Simmons's (“Plaintiff”) Motion for Final
Default Judgment, ECF No.  (“Motion”), filed
pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 55(b)(2) against
Defendant Executive Management & Consultants
International, LLC (“Defendant”). A clerk's default was
entered against Defendant on November 20, 2019, ECF No. ,
because Defendant failed to answer or otherwise plead to the
complaint, despite having been properly served. See
ECF No. . The Court has carefully considered the Motion,
the record in this case and the applicable law, and is
otherwise fully advised. For the following reasons,
Plaintiff's Motion is granted in part.
initiated this action on September 9, 2019, asserting claims
for violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act, 29 U.S.C.
§ 216, et seq. (“FLSA”), the
Florida Minimum Wage Act, and unjust enrichment. ECF No. 
(“Complaint”). According to the Complaint,
Plaintiff was employed as an exotic dancer at Defendant's
adult entertainment club, VLive Miami, from January, 2016
until December, 2017. Id. ¶ 24, 26, 28.
Plaintiff worked between seven and ten hours per shift during
her employment. Id. ¶ 29. She never received
any wages during her employment. Id. ¶¶
regularly worked over forty hours in a work week and was not
paid the federally mandated minimum wage. Id. ¶
32. In addition, Defendants charged Plaintiff a “rental
fee” per shift worked, and required Plaintiff to share
tips with other non-service employees who do not customarily
receive tips. ¶¶ 19-20. Plaintiff received tips
and/or dance fees from Defendants' customers, but no
other form of payment from their employer. Id.
¶ 21. Defendants illegally classified dancers
as independent contractors, when Plaintiff was an employee.
Id. ¶ 23. Defendant required Plaintiff and all
exotic dancers to perform private and semi-private dances
under pricing guidelines, policies, procedures, and
promotions set exclusively by Defendants. Id.
Motion, Plaintiff seeks the entry of final default judgment
against Defendant on her claims.
to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 55(b), the Court is
authorized to enter a final judgment of default against a
party who has failed to plead in response to a complaint.
This Circuit maintains a “strong policy of determining
cases on their merits and we therefore view defaults with
disfavor.” In re Worldwide Web Sys., Inc., 328
F.3d 1291, 1295 (11th Cir. 2003). Nonetheless, default
judgment is entirely appropriate and within the district
court's sound discretion to render where the defendant
has failed to defend or otherwise engage in the proceedings.
See, e.g., Tara Prods., Inc. v.
Hollywood Gadgets, Inc., 449 Fed.Appx. 908, 910 (11th
Cir. 2011); Dawkins v. Glover, 308 Fed.Appx. 394,
395 (11th Cir. 2009); In re Knight, 833 F.2d 1515,
1516 (11th Cir. 1987); Wahl v. McIver, 773 F.2d
1169, 1174 (11th Cir. 1985); Pepsico, Inc. v.
Distribuidora La Matagalpa, Inc., 510 F.Supp.2d 1110,
1113 (S.D. Fla. 2007); see also Owens v. Benton, 190
Fed.Appx. 762 (11th Cir. 2006) (default judgment within
district court's direction).
defendant's “failure to appear and the Clerk's
subsequent entry of default against him do[es] not
automatically entitle Plaintiff to a default judgment.”
Capitol Records v. Carmichael, 508 F.Supp.2d 1079,
1083 (S.D. Ala. 2007). Indeed, a default is not “an
absolute confession by the defendant of his liability and of
the plaintiff's right to recover, ” Pitts ex
rel. Pitts v. Seneca Sports, Inc., 321 F.Supp.2d 1353,
1357 (S.D. Ga. 2004), but instead acts as an admission by the
defaulted defendant as to the well-pleaded allegations of
fact in the complaint. See Eagle Hosp. Physicians, LLC v.
SRG Consulting, Inc., 561 F.3d 1298, 1307 (11th Cir.
2009) (“A defendant, by his default, admits the
plaintiff's well-pleaded allegations of fact, is
concluded on those facts by the judgment, and is barred from
contesting on appeal the facts thus established.”)
(citations omitted); Descent v. Kolitsidas, 396
F.Supp.2d 1315, 1316 (M.D. Fla. 2005) (“the
defendants' default notwithstanding, the plaintiff is
entitled to a default judgment only if the complaint states a
claim for relief”); GMAC Commercial Mortg. Corp. v.
Maitland Hotel Assocs., Ltd., 218 F.Supp.2d 1355, 1359
(M.D. Fla. 2002) (default judgment is appropriate only if
court finds sufficient basis in pleadings for judgment to be
entered, and that complaint states a claim). Stated
differently, “a default judgment cannot stand on a
complaint that fails to state a claim.” Chudasama
v. Mazda Motor Corp., 123 F.3d 1353, 1370 n.41 (11th
Cir. 1997). Therefore, before granting default judgment,
“the district court must ensure that the well-pleaded
allegations of the complaint . . . actually state a cause of
action and that there is a substantive, sufficient basis in
the pleadings for the particular relief sought.”
Tyco Fire & Sec., LLC v. Alcocer, 218 Fed.Appx.
860, 863 (11th Cir. 2007).
review of Plaintiff's submissions, the Court finds a
sufficient basis in the Complaint to enter default judgment
in Plaintiff's favor. Because Defendant has not appeared,
“all of Plaintiff's well-pled allegations in the
Complaint are deemed admitted.” Ordonez v. Icon Sky
Holdings LLC, No. 10-60156-CIV, 2011 WL 3843890, at *5
(S.D. Fla. Aug. 30, 2011) (citing Buchanan v.
Bowman, 820 F.2d 359, 361 (11th Cir. 1987)). Having
reviewed the Complaint, the Court finds Plaintiff's
allegations well-pled, and sufficient to establish
Defendant's liability. By default, Defendant has admitted
the truth of the allegations, and accordingly, the Court
finds that Plaintiff has established its claims against
the admitted facts in the Complaint establish liability, then
the Court must determine appropriate damages.”
Ordonez, 2011 WL 3843890, at *5. “Where all
the essential evidence is on record, an evidentiary hearing
on damages is not required.” Id. (citing
SEC v. Smyth, 420 F.3d 1225, 1232 n.13 (11th Cir.
2005) (“Rule 55(b)(2) speaks of evidentiary hearings in
a permissive tone . . . We have held that no such hearing is
required where all essential evidence is already of
record.” (citations omitted)). Plaintiff seeks damages
in the amount of $318, 254.00, including $33, 486.00 in
unpaid wages, $5, 581.00 in unpaid overtime, $120, 060.00 in
house fines, fees, and tip outs wrongfully retained by
Defendant, and an equal additional amount of liquidated
damages in the amount of $159, 127.00. ECF No. [26-2];
see also ECF No. . In support of the claim,
Plaintiff submits her own affidavit. Id.
Accordingly, under the facts of this case and in light of the
evidence contained in the record, the Court finds that a
hearing on damages is unnecessary and the requested amount of
damages is justified.
addition to damages, Plaintiff also requests attorney's
fees in the amount of $12, 855.00 and reimbursement of costs
in the amount of $1, 148.62. The FLSA provides that
“[t]he court . . . shall, in addition to any judgment
awarded to the plaintiff or plaintiffs, allow a reasonable
attorney's fee to be paid by the defendant, and costs of
the action.” 29 U.S.C. § 216(b). In
Norman, the Eleventh Circuit provided the framework
within which courts may analyze the reasonableness of an
award of attorney's fees. Norman v. Housing Auth. of
City of Montgomery, 836 F.2d 1292, 1292 (11th Cir. 1988)
(“For decades the law in this circuit has been that
[t]he court . . . is itself an expert on the question and may
consider its own knowledge and experience concerning
reasonable and proper fees . . . .”).
a district court must determine the lodestar figure by
multiplying the number of hours reasonably expended by a
reasonable hourly rate. Id. at 1299; Hensley v.
Eckerhart, 461 U.S. 424, 433 (1983) (“The most
useful starting point for determining the amount of a
reasonable fee is the number of hours reasonable expended on
the ligation multiplied by a reasonable hourly rate.”);
Cuban Museum of Arts & Culture, Inc. v. City of
Miami,771 F.Supp. 1190, 1191 (S.D. Fla. 1991)
(“[T]his court must begin by calculating the lodestar,
the hours reasonably expended by counsel multiplied by a
reasonable hourly rate.”). “A reasonable hourly
rate is the prevailing market rate in the relevant legal
community for similar services, by lawyers of reasonable
comparable skills, experience, and reputation.”
Norman, 836 F.2d at 1299. The relevant legal
community is “the place where the case is filed.”
ACLU v. Barnes, 168 F.3d 423, 437 (11th Cir. 1999)
(quotations and citation omitted). The movant ...