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,
JOHNNY VAUGHN, Defendant.
NOTICE that this case is scheduled for a pre-trial conference
on Tuesday, August 29, 2017, at 11:00 a.m., at the
J. Roy Rowland Federal Courthouse in Dublin, Georgia. The
purpose of this conference is to review the parties'
Proposed Consolidated Pretrial Order and to ready the case
for trial. Lead counsel for Plaintiffs and Defendant Johnny
Vaughn, who is proceeding pro se, are required to
October 21, 2014, Plaintiffs filed this action against
Defendants Community of Hope Center, Inc. d/b/a Walter Wesley
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 as well
as liquidated damages under 29 U.S.C, § 216(b) and
attorney's fees and costs. Defendants were previously
represented by two attorneys out of Macon, Georgia. Discovery
in the case closed on August 21, 2015. No dispositive motions
parties were directed to prepare the case for trial in
January 2016. However, because of Defendant Johnny
Vaughn's health issues, the case was stayed until March
14, 2016. (Doc. Nos. 28 & 29.) The case was again stayed
for sixty (60) days on March 15, 2016, so that the parties
could discuss settlement. (Doc. No. 31.) In May 2016, the
Court granted another stay of the case because the parties
wanted to hold a magistrate-supervised settlement conference.
(Doc. No. 34.) This settlement conference was never convened.
Instead, defense counsel filed a motion to withdraw from the
case in September 2016.
Community of Hope Center, Inc. was warned on two separate
occasions that it must retain counsel. (See Orders
of Sept. 6 and Nov. 9, 2016, Doc. Nos. 36 & 37.) It
failed to do so. Accordingly, its answer was stricken from
the record. (See Order of Dec. 27, 2016, Doc. No.
38.) Ultimately, default judgment was entered against
Defendant Community of Hope Center, Inc. in favor of each
individual plaintiff in varying amounts. (See Orders
of Mar. 1 and Mar. 23, 2017, Doc. Nos. 43 & 49.) Thus,
Defendant Community of Hope Center, Inc. and any matters
related to it are no longer part of this case.
April 10, 2017, Plaintiffs were ordered to notify this Court
of their intention with respect to their FLSA claims against
Defendant Vaughn. (Doc. No. 54.) Plaintiffs timely responded
that they wished to pursue their claims against Defendant
Vaughn, and thus, the Court directed the parties to meet,
confer, and submit a Proposed Consolidated Pretrial Order
Proposed PTO was submitted on May 31, 2017. In the Proposed
PTO, Defendant Vaughn raises several points that the Court
will address at this time. First, Defendant Vaughn did not
assert a counterclaim in his answer to the complaint filed,
by and through counsel, on December 4, 2014. The deadline for
amending the pleadings was February 2, 2015. Accordingly,
Defendant Vaughn cannot "seek a counterclaim against
each plaintiff in the amount of $79, 000 of attorney fees
since 2013 and $250, 000 for damages to Community Hope
Center, Inc. and the defendant's character."
(See Proposed PTO, Doc. No. 60, ¶ 9.}
Plaintiffs are the only parties that may put their claims for
relief and damages to the jury at trial. Defendant Vaughn
does not have a claim for damages in the case, and he will
not be permitted to amend his answer at this late date.
Defendant Vaughn complains that his attorneys did not file
particular motions in the case. Generally speaking, this
Court will not delve into the matter of Defendant
Vaughn's prior counsel's representation. Addressing
one point, however, Defendant Vaughn asserts that his counsel
did not have "license for Federal Court." (Proposed
PTO, Doc. No. 60-2, Ex. B.) This assertion is erroneous. C.
Brian Jarrard, Esq. is a member of the district bar, and
Charles E. Cox, Jr., Esq. was permitted to appear pro hac
vice in this case. Thus, there is no problem with prior
defense counsel's admission to practice before this
Defendant Vaughn raises the issue of the statute of
limitations. The applicable statute of limitations, a defense
raised in the answer, will be enforced against
Plaintiffs' claims for damages. The statute of
limitations for an FLSA overtime compensation claim is two
years unless the employer's violation was
willful, in which case the FLSA allows a three-year
limitations period. See 29 U.S.C. § 255(a). The
issue of willfulness must be determined by a jury.
discovery in the case has been closed for a substantial
period of time. Accordingly, any issue that the parties may
have with respect to interrogatories answered or unanswered
will not be addressed unless it bears directly upon a motion
in limine or an evidentiary matter at trial.
Defendant Vaughn states that he is under a doctor's care
for cancer treatment. The Court will make any-reasonable and
necessary accommodation for treatment but the case will not
be stayed indefinitely. The case is ...