United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Alexandria Division
JOSE R. HERNANDEZ CACERES, et al., Plaintiffs,
SONNY-N-SON'S PAINTING, LLC, et al., Defendants.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Michael S. Nachmanoff, United States Magistrate Judge.
matter comes before the Court on plaintiffs Jose R. Hernandez
Caceres' (“Caceres”) and Manuel A. Casco
Sanchez's (“Sanchez”) (collectively,
“plaintiffs”) Supplemental Motion for Re-Entry of
Default Judgment (Dkt. No. 30). Having reviewed the record
and the pleadings, the Court will grant plaintiffs'
motion for the reasons that follow.
November 19, 2018, plaintiffs filed a Complaint against
defendants Sonny-N-Son's Painting, LLC
(“Sonny-N-Son's”) and William T. Cogswell
“defendants”) alleging violations under the Fair
Labor Standards Act of 1938 (“FLSA”), as amended,
29 U.S.C. § 201, et seq., for failure to pay
overtime wages for plaintiffs and under Va. Code §
65.2-308 for wrongful termination of Caceres. Plaintiffs seek
to recover unpaid overtime wages, liquidated damages, and
reasonable attorney's fees and costs for the FLSA
violations. Caceres also seeks damages arising from the
wrongful termination. On November 21, 2018, defendants were
properly served the Summons and Complaint (Dkt. Nos. 3 and
4). Under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(a), a responsive pleading was due
twenty-one days later on December 12, 2018; however,
defendants failed to file a responsive pleading in a timely
to a Court Order (Dkt. No. 5), plaintiffs filed an
Application for Entry of Default Against Defendant (Dkt. No.
6) on December 20, 2018. The following day, defendants filed
a Motion for Leave to File Answer Out of Time (Dkt. No. 7),
including their proposed Answer to Complaint (Dkt. No. 7-1),
which the Court granted on December 26, 2018 (Dkt. No. 8).
Subsequently, on March 13, 2019, the Court issued a
Scheduling Order (Dkt. No. 11) and the parties timely filed a
Joint Discovery Plan on March 20, 2019 (Dkt. No. 12), which
the Court entered on March 29, 2019 (Dkt. No. 15).
7, 2019, plaintiffs filed a Motion to Compel Discovery (Dkt.
No. 16) seeking responses to their discovery requests.
Defendants failed to file an opposition to plaintiffs'
motion. The parties were ordered to appear before the Court
on May 31, 2019 for a hearing on plaintiffs' motion (Dkt.
No. 18). On that date, plaintiffs appeared but neither
defendants nor their counsel appeared. Accordingly, the Court
granted plaintiffs' motion to compel and stated that
“[i]f defendants fail to comply with [the Court's]
Order, they are hereby placed on notice that sanctions may be
warranted, including entry of default” (Dkt. No. 22).
11, 2019, plaintiffs filed a Motion for Re-Entry of Default
(Dkt. No. 23) because “other than filing a late answer,
[defendants] have failed to participate in this
lawsuit.” Id. at 2. On July 25, 2019, the
Court granted plaintiffs' motion and required plaintiffs
to file a supplemental motion for re-entry of default with
affidavits and declarations within fourteen days of the date
of the Order (Dkt. No. 29). Accordingly, on July 29, 2019,
plaintiffs filed a Supplemental Motion for Re-Entry of
Default Judgment (Dkt. No. 30), including declarations from
each plaintiff (Dkt. No. 30-1) and an affidavit for
attorney's fees and costs (Dkt. No. 30-2), and noticed a
hearing on their motion for August 16, 2019 (Dkt. No. 31). On
August 16, 2019, plaintiffs appeared but neither defendants
nor their counsel appeared (Dkt. No. 32).
are residents of Virginia, who worked as non-exempt employees
for defendants' painting and home improvement business.
Compl. (Dkt. No. 1) ¶¶ 1, 4-5. Sonny-N-Son's is
a limited liability company formed under Virginia law with
its principal place of business at the home of Cogswell,
located at 612 York Lane, Leesburg, V.A. 20175. Id.
at ¶ 2. Cogswell is the owner and principal person who
exerts control over Sonny-N-Son's and is a resident of
Loudon County. Id. at ¶ 3. At all relevant
times, defendants generated gross revenues exceeding $500,
000.00 and qualified as an “enterprise” within
the meaning of the FLSA, 29 U.S.C. § 203(r),
id. at ¶ 6, and plaintiffs were individual
employees who engaged in interstate commerce as set forth
under 29 U.S.C. §§ 206-07, id. at ¶
2007, defendants hired Caceres to work as a painter and
carpenter for their business. Id. at ¶ 9.
Caceres would load paints and supplies ordered by defendants
into their van and drive to various worksites as directed by
defendants. Id. On average, Caceres worked 70 hours
a week and was paid $16.00 per hour. Id. On
September 20, 2018, he was injured on the job. Id.
Cogswell thereafter terminated Caceres “because [they]
did not have workers compensation insurance and would not be
paying any of the medical bills associated with his
claim.” Id. On October 12, 2018, Caceres filed
a workers' compensation claim, No. VA02000031285.
Id. Accordingly, he is owed overtime premiums of
approximately $240.00 for each week he worked for defendants
(30 hours x $16.00 x .5). Id. Caceres alleges that
he worked for defendants for 572 weeks, totaling to $137,
280.00 owed in overtime wages. Id. He also alleges
he is owed for his last eight days of work, for which he was
not paid, of approximately $1, 280.00 (10 hours x 8 days x
$16.00). In sum, Caceres asserts that he is owed overtime
wages in the amount of $137, 280.00 plus regular wages in the
amount of $1, 280.00, totaling to $138, 5600.00. Id.
2016, defendants hired Sanchez to also work as a painter and
carpenter for their business. Id. at ¶ 10.
Similarly, on average, Sanchez worked 70 hours a week and was
paid $16.00 per hour. Id. On September 11, 2018, he
quit his job. Id. He worked, on average, 70 hours a
week and paid $16.00 per hour. Id. He was paid in
the form of checks and cash “in order to avoid
detection of his unpaid overtime wages.” Id.
Accordingly, Sanchez alleges that he is owed overtime
premiums of approximately $240.00 for each week he worked for
defendants (30 hours x $16.00 x .5). Id. He further
alleges he worked for defendants for 60 weeks, totaling to
$14, 400.00 owed in overtime wages. Id.
plaintiffs brought the instant action against defendants on
November 19, 2018. Count I alleges a violation under the FLSA
for unpaid overtime wages and seeks unpaid overtime wages,
liquidated damages, pre- and post-judgment interest,
reasonable attorney's fees and costs, among other relief.
Id. at ¶¶ 13-46. Count II alleges wrongful
termination of Caceres in violation of Va. Code §
65.2-308, which prevents an employee from being discharged in
retaliation for filing a worker's compensation claim.
Id. at ¶¶ 47-55. For this count, Caceres
seeks monetary compensation-including back- and front-pay,
salary, and other job-related benefits-as well as damages for
emotional distress; punitive damages; and attorney's fees
and costs, among other relief. Id. at pgs. 10-11.
Jurisdiction, Venue, and Service of Process
must have both subject matter and personal jurisdiction over
a defaulting defendant before it can render a default
judgment. The Court has subject matter jurisdiction under 28
U.S.C. § 1331 because the instant action alleges
violations of federal law, the FLSA. The Court also has
subject-matter jurisdiction over plaintiffs' state law
claim pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1367 because the claim is
part of the same case and controversy as the FLSA claim. This
Court also has personal jurisdiction of defendants because
Sonny-N-Son's is a Virginia limited liability company ...