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Knox v. Happy CAB, LLC

United States District Court, S.D. Georgia, Statesboro Division

November 21, 2017

GLENDA KNOX, on behalf of herself and those similarly situated, Plaintiff,
v.
HAPPY CAB, LLC and STACEY R. DIXON, Defendants.

          ORDER

          LISA GODBEY WOOD JUDGE.

         This Matter comes before the Court on Plaintiff Glenda Knox's Motion for Default Judgment (Dkt. No. 9) against Defendants Happy Cab, LLC ("Happy Cab") and Stacey R. Dixon. Upon due consideration, this Motion is GRANTED, and a hearing is set for December 20, 2017 at 10:00am to determine the amount of damages.

         FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         According to the allegations of the Complaint, Knox was employed by Happy Cab as a dispatcher in St. Marys, Georgia, in Camden County. Dkt. No. 1 ¶ 7. Dixon is a corporate officer of Happy Cab, exercising operational control over its activities. Id. ¶ 9. As owner and acting manager of Happy Cab, Dixon has the power to hire and fire Knox, supervise and control her work schedule, determine her rate and method of payment, and maintain employment records. Id. ¶ 11. Defendants provide a mode of passenger transportation from portal to portal for patrons for a fee. Id. ¶ 21.

         Defendants hired Plaintiff, and she provided rapid transportation response to customer requests within a designated coverage area. Id. ¶ 22. As part of her job, Plaintiff was required to arrive at Defendants' place of business to perform services, including assisting drivers with directions to customers' pick-up locations and navigating them through traffic. Id. ¶ 23. Plaintiff alleges that she typically worked over sixty hours per week and that she was not paid minimum wage or overtime. Id. SI 24. She worked as a dispatcher for Happy Cab from May 2016 through November 2016, earning $88.00 per day. Id. ¶¶ 26-27. Defendants never paid her at a rate of time and one-half her regular rate for hours worked in excess of forty in a workweek, she alleges. Id. ¶ 30. In a putative class action, Plaintiff brought claims for violations of the minimum wage and overtime provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA") against Happy Cab and Dixon under 29 U.S.C. §§ 206, 207.

         Knox sued on March 6, 2017. Dkt. No. 1. She issued Summons to Happy Cab and Dixon on March 7 and 9, 2017, respectively. Dkt. Nos. 4, 5. The server verified that he served Dixon on behalf of Happy Cab on March 11, 2017, at 9:30 a.m. and that he served Dixon personally at the same date and time. Dkt. No. 6-1. Dixon is Happy Cab's registered agent for service. On May 31, 2017, Knox moved for an entry of default, which the clerk entered. Dkt. Nos. 7, 8. On July 12, 2017, Knox moved for a default judgment against Happy Cab and Dixon. Dkt. No. 9.

         LEGAL STANDARD

         A court may enter a default judgment when a party fails to timely respond to a claim for affirmative relief. Fed.R.Civ.P. 55. Before entering a default judgment for damages, the Court "must ensure that the well-pleaded allegations in the complaint, which are taken as true due to the default, actually state a substantive cause of action and that there is a substantive, sufficient basis in the pleadings for the particular relief sought." Tyco Fire & Sec, LLC v. Alcocer, 218 Fed.Appx. 860, 863 (11th Cir. 2007) (per curiam); see also Cotton v. Mass. Mut. Life Ins. Co., 402 F.3d 1267, 1277-78 (11th Cir. 2005). A default is not "an absolute confession by the defendant of his liability and of the plaintiff's right to recover, " but is instead merely "an admission of the facts cited in the Complaint . . . ." Pitts ex rel. Pitts v. Seneca Sports, Inc., 321 F.Supp.2d 1353, 1357 (S.D. Ga. 2004).M%[T]he court, in its discretion, may require some proof of facts that must be established in order to determine liability.'" Wooten v. McDonald Transit Ass., Inc., 788 F.3d 490, 496 (5th Cir. 2015) (quoting 10A Charles A. Wright et al., Federal Practice and Procedure § 2688 (3d ed. 1998)).

         The allegations relating to damages suffered ordinarily are not accepted as true. Wehrs v. Wells, 688 F.3d 886, 892 (7th Cir. 2012). Rather, "[d]amages must be proved unless they are liquidated or capable of calculation." Id. (quoting Merrill Lynch Mortg. Corp. v. Narayan, 908 F.2d 246, 253 (7th Cir. 1990)). It is the Court's duty to "determine both the amount and character of damages." PNCEF, LLC v. Hendricks Bldg. Supply LLC, 740 F.Supp.2d 1287, 1292 (S.D. Ala.- 2010) (quoting Virgin Records Am., Inc. v. Lacey, 510 F.Supp.2d 588, 593 n. 5 (S.D. Ala. 2007). Even in the default judgment context, ''[a] court has an obligation to assure that there is a legitimate basis for any damage award it enters." Anheuser Busch, Inc. v. Philpot, 317 F.3d 1264, 1266 (11th Cir. 2003).

         DISCUSSION

         In considering a default judgment, the Court must examine (1) jurisdiction, (2) liability, and (3) damages. See Pitts, 321 F.Supp.2d at 1356. The Court will take up each in turn.

         I. Jurisdiction

         The Court cannot enter default judgment against Happy Cab and Dixon unless it has personal jurisdiction over them and subject matter jurisdiction over the case. Here, the Complaint alleges that Happy Cab is a Georgia corporation that has its headquarters in Camden County, Georgia. Dkt. No. 1 ¶ 8. Place of incorporation is a '''paradig[m]' bas[i]s for the exercise of general jurisdiction." Goodyear Dunlop Tires Operations, S.A. v. Brown, 564 U.S. 915, 924 (2011). What is more, Happy Cab was served in Georgia through its registered agent for service of process, further establishing its personal jurisdiction in Georgia. Dkt. No. 6-1; see Burnham v. Superior Court of Cal., Cnty. of Marin, 495 U.S. 604 (1990) (holding valid and constitutional the exercise of personal jurisdiction over corporate defendant through service of process within the forum state). This Court has personal jurisdiction over Happy Cab.

         The same is true for Dixon. She was personally served with process in Georgia and is subject to personal jurisdiction here, . regardless of whether she ...


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