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Tapia v. Taka, Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Alexandria Division

March 7, 2016

ALEJANDRO TAPIA, Plaintiff,
v.
TAKA, INC., et al., Defendants.

REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

THERESA CARROLL BUCHANAN, Magistrate Judge.

THIS MATTER comes before the Court on plaintiff's amended Motion for Default Judgment. (Dkt. 18.) After a representative for defendants failed to respond to plaintiff's Motion or to appear at the hearing on December 18, 2015, the undersigned Magistrate Judge took this matter under advisement.[1]

I. INTRODUCTION

A. Background

Defendant Taka, Inc. is a restaurant in Stafford, Virginia, that has operated and may still be operating under the name "Taka Japanese Steakhouse & Sushi." (Compl. ¶ 3.) Defendant Paul Khahn Nguyen is the registered agent, president, and owner of Taka, Inc. and is a resident of Fairfax, Virginia. (Id. at 1, ¶ 4.) Defendants employed plaintiff Alejandro Tapia as a cook, prep-cook, and dishwasher from approximately February 14, 2013 to February 27, 2015. (Id. at ¶ 1.) Before that, plaintiff had worked briefly for defendants in 2012. (Id.) From approximately February 2013 to December 31, 2013, plaintiff regularly worked six days per week, averaging 43 hours per week, and defendants gave plaintiff a paycheck twice a month listing his salary as $450.00. (Tapia Decl. ¶¶ 2, 4; Compl. ¶ 14.) From approximately January 2014 to February 27, 2015, plaintiff regularly worked six days per week, averaging 55 hours per week, and defendants gave plaintiff a paycheck twice a month listing his salary as $450.00. (Tapia Decl. ¶¶ 3-4; Compl. ¶ 16.) During plaintiff's employment with defendants, defendants also paid plaintiff an additional $500.00 in cash twice a month. (Tapia Decl. ¶ 4.) For six pay periods, or approximately 13 weeks, defendants did not pay plaintiff at all. (Am. Mot. Default J. 5-6; Tapia Decl. ¶ 5.) Defendants also never paid plaintiff at a rate of one-and-one-half times his hourly wage for those hours he worked above 40 hours per week. (Compl. ¶ 20.)

On August 5, 2015, plaintiff filed suit against defendants alleging minimum wage and overtime violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 ("FLSA"), 29 U.S.C. § 201 et seq. (Id. at 1.) Plaintiff now seeks unpaid wages, liquidated damages, and attorneys' fees and costs. (Am. Mot. Default J. 1, 12.)

B. Jurisdiction and Venue

Before the Court can render default judgment, it must have both subject matter and personal jurisdiction over the defaulting party/parties.

This Court has subject matter jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331, which provides that district courts shall have original jurisdiction over all civil actions arising under the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States. This dispute arises under FLSA, 29 U.S.C. § 201 et seq., which provides relief for an action to recover unpaid wages, unpaid overtime compensation, liquidated damages, and attorneys' fees and costs. See 29 U.S.C. § 216(b). Therefore, federal question jurisdiction exists for this action.

This Court also has personal jurisdiction over defendants because defendant Taka, Inc. is a restaurant with its principal place of business in Stafford, Virginia, and defendant Paul Nguyen is a resident of Fairfax, Virginia. (Compl. 1, ¶ 3.)

Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1391(b)(2), venue is proper because all actions giving rise to the claims alleged occurred in this judicial district. (Compl. ¶ 12.)

C. Service of Process

As a general rule, a defendant must be served with the summons and complaint filed with the court. Fed.R.Civ.P. 4. On August 22, 2015, plaintiff's private process server personally served defendant Paul Nguyen with a copy of the summons and complaint. (Dkt. 3.) Defendant Paul Nguyen also accepted service on behalf of Taka, Inc. (Dkt. 4.) Paul Nguyen is the owner of Taka, Inc. and is designated by law to accept service of process on behalf of the corporation. (Dkt. 4.) Therefore, service was proper under Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 4(e) and 4(h).

D. Grounds for Default Judgment

Defendants have not appeared, answered, or otherwise filed any responsive pleadings in this case.[2] On October 1, 2015, the Honorable Liam O'Grady ordered that plaintiff seek entry of default from the Clerk and subsequently file a Motion for Default Judgment. (Dkt. 5.) On October 15, 2015, the Clerk of this Court entered default as to defendants pursuant to plaintiff's Request for Entry of Default and Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 55(a). ...


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