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Acosta v. Rubins Company MJ, Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. Virginia

March 12, 2018

R. ALEXANDER ACOSTA, Secretary of Labor, United Stales Department of Labor Plaintiff,
v.
RUBINS COMPANY MJ, INC., et al., Defendants.

          PROPOSED FINDINGS OF FACT AND RECOMMENDATIONS

          JOHN F. ANDERSON, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         This matter is before the court on a motion for default judgment filed by plaintiff R. Alexander Acosta, Secretary of Labor, United States Department of Labor ("plaintiff' or the Secretary)[1] against defendants Angelica Silvina Correa, individually and as the sole owner of Rubins Company MJ, Inc.; and Edmundo Rubins, individually (collectively defendants).[2] (Docket no. 15). Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(C), the undersigned magistrate judge is fling with the court his proposed findings of fact and recommendations, a copy of which will be provided to all interested parties.

         Procedural Background

         On January 6, 2017, plaintiff filed this action against defendants alleging violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA"). (Docket no. 1). On September 26, 2017, plaintiff notified the Clerk of Court that he had served the individual defendants on February 21, 2017, but was unable to serve the corporate defendant. (Docket nos. 5, 7-9, 11). On September 27, 2017, plaintiff filed a request for entry of default against defendants (Docket no. 6), which the Clerk of Court entered on September 28, 2017 as to Angelica Silvina Correa and Edmundo Rubins for failure to plead or otherwise defend (Docket no. 10). On January 3, 2018, the court ordered plaintiff to promptly file a motion for default judgment, an accompanying memorandum in support, and a notice setting the hearing for February 9, 2018 at 10:00 a.m. (Docket no. 13). On January 31, 2018, plaintiff filed this motion for default judgment and noticed the hearing for March 2, 2018 at 10:00 a.m. (Docket nos. 15-17). Plaintiff served his motion for default judgment and exhibits, memorandum in support, proposed order of default judgment, and notice of hearing on defendants on January 31, 2018. (Docket no. 18). The courthouse was closed on March 2, 2018 due to inclement weather, and the hearing was rescheduled for March 9, 2018 at 10:00 a.m. (Docket no. 22). Defendants were mailed a copy of the court's order rescheduling the hearing. At the hearing on March 9, 2018, counsel for the plaintiff appeared, but no one appeared on behalf of defendants.

         Factual Background

         The following facts are established by the complaint (Docket no. 1) ("Compl."), plaintiffs motion for default judgment (Docket no. 15), and the memorandum in support of plaintiffs motion for default judgment (Docket no. 17). Rubins Company MJ, Inc. d/b/a Rubins Company MJ was incorporated in Virginia in 2010 under the ownership of defendant Angelica Silvina Correa. (Compl. ¶ II). Rubins Company MJ, Inc. cleaned office buildings and residential apartments following their construction and renovation, and employed about forty employees on average. (Compl. ¶ II). Defendant Angelica Silvina Correa was the sole owner of Rubins Company MJ, Inc. and directed the work of the employees, hired employees, and determined their rates of pay. (Compl. ¶ HI). Defendant Edmundo Rubins also directed the work of the employees, hired employees, and determined their rates of pay. (Compl. ¶ IV). From January 6, 2014 to January 5, 2016, defendants failed to keep accurate records of many of their employees' wages, failed to pay 15 of 38 employees at wage rates not less than $7.25 an hour, and failed to pay all 38 employees at one and one-half times their regular rate of pay for hours worked over forty in a week. (Compl. ¶¶ VII-IX; Docket no. 17 at 5-6).

         Proposed Findings and Recommendations

         Rule 55 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides for the entry of a default judgment when "a party against whom a judgment for affirmative relief is sought has failed to plead or otherwise defend." Based on the failure to plead or otherwise defend against the action, the Clerk of Court has entered a default as to Angelica Silvina Correa and Edmundo Rubins. (Docket no. 10).

         A defendant in default admits the factual allegations in the complaint. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(b)(6) ("An allegation-other than one relating to the amount of damages-is admitted if a responsive pleading is required and the allegation is not denied."); see also GlobalSantaFe Corp. v. Globalsantafe.com, 250 F.Supp.2d 610, 612 n.3 (E.D. Va. 2003) ("Upon default, facts alleged in the complaint are deemed admitted and the appropriate inquiry is whether the facts as alleged state a claim."). Rule 55(b)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that a court may conduct a hearing to determine the amount of damages, establish the truth of any allegation by evidence, or investigate any other matter when necessary to enter or effectuate judgment.

         Jurisdiction and Venue

         A court must have both subject matter and personal jurisdiction over a defaulting party before it can render a default judgment. Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331, "district courts shall have original jurisdiction of all civil actions arising under the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States." Similarly, 28 U.S.C. § 1337(a) provides that "district courts shall have original jurisdiction of any civil action or proceeding arising under any Act of Congress regulating commerce or protecting trade and commerce against restraints and monopolies." The FLSA itself also states that any action to recover unpaid minimum or overtime wages may be maintained "in any Federal or State court of competent jurisdiction." 29 U.S.C. § 216(b). Since this action arises from a law of the United States, the FLSA, and further arises from an Act of Congress regulating commerce, this court has subject matter jurisdiction over this action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331 and 1337. Additionally, this court has subject matter jurisdiction over this action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1345, which provides that "the district courts shall have original jurisdiction of all civil actions, suits or proceedings commenced by the United States, or by any agency or officer thereof expressly authorized to sue by Act of Congress."

         This court also has personal jurisdiction over the defendants. As stated in the complaint and clarified in plaintiffs motion, defendants Angelica Silvina Correa and Edmundo Rubins are residents of Herndon, Virginia. (Compl. ¶ II; Docket no. 17 at 4). Venue is also proper in this court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1391(b) because a substantial part of the events or omissions giving rise to plaintiffs claims occurred in this district. (Compl. ¶ II).

         For these reasons, the undersigned recommends a finding that this court has subject matter jurisdiction over this action, that this court has personal jurisdiction over the defendants, and that venue is proper in this court.

         Service

         Pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 4(e)(2), an individual within a judicial district of the United States may be served by delivering a copy of the summons and complaint to the individual personally. On January 9, 2017, summonses were issued for service on Rubins Company MJ, Inc.; Angelica Silvina Correa; and Edmundo Rubins at 1129 Artie Quill Road, Herndon, Virginia 20170. (Docket no. 2). The return of service filed September 27, 2017 indicates that a private process server left the summons and complaint with the individual defendants' son, Favian Rubins, on February 21, 2017 at their residence at 1129 Artie Quill Road, Herndon, Virginia 20170, noting that they would be out of town until March 2 or 3, 2017. (Docket ...


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