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Nielsen v. Moore

United States District Court, D. Arizona

February 24, 2016

Erik Nielsen, Plaintiff,
Adam Moore, et al., Defendants.


Honorable Stephen M. McNamee Senior United States District Judge

Pending before the Court is Plaintiff’s Motion for Default Judgment. (Doc. 17.) Defendant Adam Moore was personally served with the Complaint and Summons on April 25, 2015. (Doc. 6.) On May 18, 2015, Defendant filed his Answer to the Complaint. (Doc. 8.) After Defendant failed to comply with LRCiv 3.7 and to appear before Judge Bolton as ordered by the Court, the Clerk of Court entered default against Defendant on July 24, 2015. (Doc. 16.) Plaintiff now moves the Court to enter Default Judgment. (Doc. 17.) For the reasons below, the Court will grant Plaintiff’s Motion.

I. Background

On April 15, 2015, Plaintiff filed his Complaint in this matter, asserting claims against Defendant for violations of Fair Labor Standards Act, 29 U.S.C. § 207, et seq. (FLSA), and the Arizona Wage Act, A.R.S. §§ 23-350, et seq. (AWA). More specifically, Plaintiff alleges that Defendant hired Plaintiff in December 2014 as a security guard, at the agreed upon wage of $10.50 an hour. Plaintiff asserts his usual shifts were 12 hours, without breaks or meal periods. (Doc. 1 ¶¶ 8-12.)

Plaintiff alleges that he performed non-exempt work during his employment: he was not a manager, he did not supervise any other employee, he did not direct the work of two or more employees, and he did not exercise discretion and independent judgment with regard to matters of significance. (Id. ¶¶ 14-19.) Plaintiff asserts that Defendant required Plaintiff to complete time sheets, which showed all of the hours he worked. (Id. ¶ 21.) Further, Plaintiff claims that Defendant failed to pay him for any work he performed during the period of January 16, 2015, through March 4, 2015. (Id. ¶¶ 22-24.) Plaintiff also asserts that Defendant did not pay Plaintiff for overtime from December 26, 2014 through March 4, 2015. (Id. ¶¶ 23, 26.) According to Plaintiff, Defendant’s failure to pay Plaintiff overtime due violated the FLSA, and his failure to pay Plaintiff wages owed violated the AWA. (Id. ¶¶ 43-57.) Plaintiff asserts that Defendant’s failure to pay Plaintiff “was willful, unreasonable, and in bad faith.” (Id. ¶¶ 40-41, 54.) In his Complaint, Plaintiff further seeks declaratory judgment against Defendant, stating that Defendant’s actions described above violate the FLSA. (Id. ¶¶ 58-69.)

Plaintiff personally served Defendant with the Summons and Complaint on April 25, 2015. (Doc. 6.) On May 18, 2015, Defendant filed an Answer to Plaintiff’s Complaint. (Doc. 8.) On the same day, the Clerk sent Defendant instructions that he must complete and submit to the Court the attached consent form no later than 14 days after an entry of appearance. (Doc. 11.) On June 9, 2015, after Defendant failed to submit a completed consent form, Judge Bolton ordered Defendant to appear on June 29, 2015 and show cause for his failure to comply with LRCiv 3.7(b). (Doc. 12.) However, Defendant failed to appear at the scheduled hearing. (Doc. 13.) Therefore, on July 14, 2015, Judge Bolton struck Defendant’s Answer and directed the Clerk to enter default against him. (Doc. 15.) On the same day, the Clerk entered default. (Doc. 16.)

On July 20, 2015, Plaintiff filed his pending Motion for Default Judgment. (Doc. 17.) Plaintiff requests the Court enter judgment in his favor for a total of $11, 844 in damages, $4, 156 in attorneys’ fees, $530.20 in costs, post-judgment interest, and any attorneys’ fees and costs Plaintiff incurs in enforcing the default judgment. (Doc. 17 at 5- 6.) Below, the Court addresses Plaintiff’s requests.

II. Discussion

a. Jurisdiction

“When entry of judgment is sought against a party who has failed to plead or otherwise defend, a district court has an affirmative duty to look into its jurisdiction over both the subject matter and the parties.” In re Tuli, 172 F.3d 707, 712 (9th Cir. 1999). Although Plaintiff’s Motion does not address jurisdiction, this Court must determine whether it has subject matter jurisdiction over the action and personal jurisdiction over the defaulting Defendant. See Id. (where the Court properly raised, sua sponte, the issue of whether it could exercise personal jurisdiction over Iraq before deciding whether it could enter default judgment against it). This will “avoid ent[ry] [of] a default judgment that can later be successfully attacked as void.” Id.

Here, Plaintiff brings this action, in-part, pursuant to a federal statute, the FLSA. Therefore, the Court is satisfied it has subject matter jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331 (“The district courts shall have original jurisdiction of all civil actions arising under the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States.”). The Court further has supplemental jurisdiction over Plaintiff’s related state law claim brought under the AWA. See 28 U.S.C. § 1367 (“in any civil action of which the district courts have original jurisdiction, the district courts shall have supplemental jurisdiction over all other claims that are so related to claims in the action within such original jurisdiction that they form part of the same case or controversy under Article III of the United States Constitution.”). With regard to personal jurisdiction, the Complaint alleges that Defendant at all material times was a resident of Maricopa County, Arizona, and Defendant owns, operates, and manages a security company under the registered trade name Confidential Protection, which has its headquarters in Maricopa County, Arizona. (Doc. 1 ¶¶ 6-7.) Further, Defendant was personally served at an address in Mesa, Arizona. (Doc. 6.) The Court is thus satisfied that it has personal jurisdiction over Defendant.

b. Entry of Default Judgment

i. Rule 55 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure

Rule 55(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that “[w]hen a party against whom a judgment for affirmative relief is sought has failed to plead or otherwise defend . . . the clerk shall enter the party’s default.” Once a party’s default has been entered, the district court has discretion to grant default judgment. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 55(b)(2); Aldabe v. Aldabe, 616 F.2d 1089, 1092 (9th Cir. 1980) (considering lack of merit in plaintiff’s substantive claims, the court did not abuse its discretion in declining to enter a default judgment). Here, ...

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