United States District Court, S.D. Georgia, Dublin Division
WILLIE MACK HENRY, BRIAN POWELL, SHAUN POWELL, MELVIN THOMAS, EBB O'NEAL, JR., AUTHOR LEE HAVARD, CHARLINE WRIGHT, and CAROLYN HORNE, Plaintiffs,
COMMUNITY OF HOPE CENTER, INC., d/b/a WALTER WESLEY JOYNER ACADEMY and JOHNNY VAUGHN, Defendants.
October 21, 2014, Plaintiffs filed this action against
Defendants Community of Hope Center, Inc. d/b/a Walter Wesley
I Joyner Academy (the "Academy") and its Chief
Executive Officer, Johnny Vaughn, pursuant to the Fair Labor
Standards Act ("FLSA"), 29 U.S.C. § 201 et
seq. Plaintiffs seek unpaid overtime wages.
Defendants, through counsel, filed an answer on December 4,
2014. (Doc. No. 6.) After an extended discovery period, the
case was stayed to allow the parties the opportunity to
pursue settlement. (Orders of Mar. 15 & May 23, 2016,
Doc. Nos. 31 & 34.) However, on September 1, 2016,
counsel for Defendants sought to withdraw from the case,
which was permitted pursuant to this Court's Order of
September 6, 2016. (Doc. No. 36.) Despite this Court's
admonition, the Academy failed to obtain counsel. Ultimately,
this Court directed the Clerk of Court to strike the
Academy's answer to the complaint and to enter default
against it. (See Order of Dec. 27, 2016, Doc. No.
38.) Presently, Plaintiffs have filed a motion for default
judgment against the Academy.
recitation of facts is drawn from the allegations in the
Complaint, which are deemed admitted as a result of the
Academy's default. See Nishimatsu Const. Co. v.
Houston Nat'l Bank, 515 F.2d 1200, 1206
(5th Cir. 1975) (" [D]efendant, by his default,
admits the plaintiff's well-pleaded allegations of fact .
. . .").
Academy provides residential and educational services to
youth placed by the Georgia Department of Family and Children
Services. At all relevant times, each of the Plaintiffs were
employed by the Academy as "house parents." The
Academy classified Plaintiffs as exempt for FLSA purposes
such that they were not paid overtime at the rate of one and
half times their regular rate of pay for hours worked in
excess of 40 hours per week. Despite the classification,
Plaintiffs were not exempt employees and were subject to the
overtime provisions of the FLSA. Plaintiffs customarily and
regularly performed work that was not directly related to the
management or general business operations of the Academy. In
particular, Plaintiffs' primary duties were the
supervision of residents and the provision of security at the
school. Plaintiffs' work involved little to no
discretion, independent judgment, or managerial
decision-making authority. Plaintiffs were closely supervised
by their supervisors, and their tasks were largely dictated
by instruction and policy lists provided to Plaintiffs by
routinely worked in excess of 60 hours a week and were not
paid for the overtime work. Plaintiffs allege that the
Academy's violation of the overtime provision of the FLSA
was "willful" within the meaning of the
their motion for default judgment, Plaintiffs seek
reimbursement for the overtime hours and the award of
liquidated damages as well as attorney's fees and costs
under 29 U.S.C. § 216(b).
default does not in itself warrant the court in entering a
default judgment. There must be a sufficient basis in the
pleadings for a judgment entered . . . . The defendant is not
held to admit facts that are not well-pleaded or to admit
conclusions of law." Nishimatsu Constr. Co.,
515 F.2d at 1206.w[T]hree distinct matters [are]
essential in considering any default judgment: (1)
jurisdiction; (2) liability; and (3) damages." Pitts
ex rel. Pitts v. Seneca Sports. Inc., 321 F.Supp.2d
1353, 1356 (S.D. Ga. 2004).
Court has subject matter jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 1337(a) because Plaintiffs' cause of action arises
under the FLSA. Moreover, Plaintiffs sufficiently plead
incorporated under the laws of the state of Georgia with its
principal place of business located in Georgia.
complaint sufficiently states a cause of action under the
FLSA. Under § 207 of the FLSA, "an employer may not
employ his employee for a workweek longer than forty hours
unless his employee receives overtime compensation at a rate
not less than one and a half times his regular rate."
Allen v. Bd. of Pub. Educ. for Bibb Cnty., 495 F.3d
1306, 1314 (11th Cir. 2007) (citing 29 U.S.C. §
207(a)(1)). To state a claim for unpaid overtime wages,
Plaintiffs must allege (i) that they are covered by FLSA;
(ii) that the Academy employed them; (iii) that they worked
in excess of 40 hours per week; and (iv) that the Academy did
not pay them overtime wages. Fresh v. Diamond Dev. &
Invs., Inc., 2016 WL 2745836, at *5 (N.D.Ga. May 11,
2016) . By failing to answer the allegations of the
complaint, the Academy has admitted to these essential facts.
The Academy has also admitted that its failure to pay
overtime was willful. Because the Academy has failed to
provide overtime compensation to Plaintiffs, it has violated
the FLSA and is liable therefor.
default judgment as to liability is not final until the
amount of damages is determined. *[T]he Court determines the
amount and character of damages to be awarded" by virtue
of a default. Miller, 75 F.Supp.2d at 134 6. The
plaintiffs have the burden of proving the amount of damages
to be awarded.''It is the employer's
duty to keep records of the employee's wages, hours, and
other conditions and practices of employment, " and it
is the employer "who is in a superior position to know
and produce the most probative facts concerning the nature
and amount of work performed." Allen v. Bd. of Pub.
Educ. for Bibb Cnty.. 495 F.3d 1306, 1314
(11thCir. 2007) . "For that reason, in
situations where the employer has failed to keep records or
the records cannot be trusted, the employee satisfies [his]
burden of proving that [he] performed work without
compensation if [he] produces sufficient evidence to show the
amount and extent of that work as a matter of just and
reasonable inference." Jackson v. Corr. Corp. of
Am., 606 F.App'x 945, 952 (11th Cir.
2015) (citation ...