WALKER et al v. THOMAS
MEMORANDUM AND OPINION. Signed by Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly on 10/13/2015. (lcckk1)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
CHANEEL WALKER and
Civil Action No. 14-cv-515 (CKK)
(October 13, 2015)
Chaneel Walker and Gail Alston (“Plaintiffs”) filed the Complaint in the above-captioned
action on March 27, 2014 against Defendant Lorraine Thomas (“Defendant”). See Compl., ECF
No. . Presently before the Court is Plaintiffs’ Motion for Default Judgment (“Motion”). See
ECF No. .
For the reasons stated below, the Court DENIES WITHOUT PREJUDICE
Plaintiffs’ Motion for Default Judgment.
This is the second action that Plaintiffs have filed against Defendant concerning the
allegations raised in Plaintiffs’ Complaint.
In the first suit, Plaintiffs sued Defendant and
Innovative Concept Solutions International, Inc. (“ISCI”), which at the time was a commercial
enterprise owned and operated by Defendant.
Walker v. Innovative Concept Solutions
International (“Walker I”), 1:12cv02046, Compl. ¶ 15 (Dec. 12, 2012), ECF No. . The Court
dismissed without prejudice the claims against Defendant for failure to serve the summons and
complaint upon Defendant. See Walker I, Order (May 29, 2013), ECF No. . As to the
claims against ISCI, the Court twice denied without prejudice Plaintiffs’ motions for default
judgment on the basis that Plaintiffs failed to include evidentiary support for its damages claims.
See Walker I, Order (July 3, 2013), ECF No. , Order (Nov. 27, 2013), ECF No. . When
provided the opportunity to file a third motion for default judgment, Plaintiffs failed to do so, and
the Court dismissed Plaintiffs’ claims against ISCI for want of prosecution. See Walker I, Order
(Jan. 13, 2014), ECF No. .
Plaintiffs commenced the present action against Defendant on March 27, 2014,
approximately two months after the Court’s order dismissing Plaintiffs’ claims against ISCI. 1
Plaintiffs allege that ISCI was as a corporation authorized to do business under the laws of
Maryland, but forfeited its status in 2001 for failure to pay property taxes. Compl. ¶ 15. As
such, ICSI operated as a sole proprietorship of Defendant, with Defendant remaining personally
liable for the debts and actions of ICSI.
On September 2, 2014, Defendant filed for
bankruptcy in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Maryland in case number
Pls.’ Mem. in Support of Pl.’s Mot. for Relief from Stay Exhibit 1 (Jan. 2,
2015), ECF No. . Defendant’s bankruptcy petition initially named Plaintiffs, along with the
Department of Labor and this Court, as creditors; however, on September 16, 2014, Defendant
amended her bankruptcy petition to exclude those parties from her list of creditors. Id. Exhibits
On December 22, 2014, Defendant received a discharge of indebtedness, and the
Bankruptcy Court closed the case. Id. Exhibits 7, 8. At no time did Defendant seek to add
Plaintiffs back to her list of creditors after filing her Amended Petition. Id. at 2. Accordingly,
Defendant’s alleged debts to Plaintiffs were not discharged. Id.
On March 26, 2015, Plaintiffs filed affidavits supporting an entry of default against
Plaintiffs’ Complaint and supporting exhibits are virtually identical to the complaint and
supporting exhibits filed in their earlier action.
Defendant in this matter. ECF No. , . On March 27, 2015, the Clerk of the Court
entered a default against Defendant.
ECF No. . On April 21, 2015, Plaintiffs filed the
present  Motion for Default Judgment.
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 55(a) provides that the Clerk of the Court must enter a
party’s request for a default “[w]hen a party against whom a judgment for affirmative relief is
sought has failed to plead or otherwise defend, and that failure is shown by affidavit or
otherwise.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 55(a). After a default has been entered by the Clerk, a party may
move the court for a default judgment. Fed. R. Civ. P. 55(b)(2). “The determination of whether
default judgment is appropriate is committed to the discretion of the trial court.” Int’l Painters &
Allied Trades Indus. Pension Fund v. Auxier Drywall, LLC, 531 F. Supp. 2d 56, 57 (D.D.C.
2008) (citing Jackson v. Beech, 636 F.2d 831, 836 (D.C. Cir. 1980)).
Upon entry of default by the clerk of the court, the “defaulting defendant is deemed to
admit every well-pleaded allegation in the complaint.” Int’l Painters & Allied Trades Indus.
Pension Fund v. R.W. Amrine Drywall Co. Inc., 239 F. Supp. 2d 26, 30 (D.D.C. 2002) (internal
citation omitted). “Although the default establishes a defendant’s liability, the court is required
to make an independent determination of the sum to be awarded unless the amount of damages is
certain.” Id. (citing Adkins v. Teseo, 180 F. Supp. 2d 15, 17 (D.D.C. 2001)). Accordingly, when
moving for a default judgment, the plaintiff must prove its entitlement to the amount of monetary
damages requested. Id. “In ruling on such a motion, the court may rely on detailed affidavits or
documentary evidence to determine the appropriate sum for the default judgment.” Id. (citing
United Artists Corp. v. Freeman, 605 F.2d 854, 857 (5th Cir. 1979)).
The Court denies without prejudice Plaintiffs’ Motion for Default Judgment. Plaintiffs
fail to provide sufficient evidence to prove their entitlement to the amount of monetary damages
requested. Plaintiffs seek (1) unpaid wages; (2) unpaid vacation hours; (3) liquidated damages
under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) and the District of Columbia Wage Payment and
Collection Law (“DCWPCL”); and (4) attorneys’ fees and court costs.
A. Plaintiffs have provided no evidence upon which the Court may award
damages for Plaintiffs’ unpaid wages.
In Plaintiffs’ Motion, Plaintiffs state that they have not been paid for a set number of
hours worked in 2012. Apparently as evidence to support this assertion, Plaintiffs provide time
sheets for the weeks in which they allege in their pleadings they were not paid. See Compl.
Exhibits H, J, L. However, the time sheets standing alone are not evidence that Plaintiffs were
not paid for the time worked. Plaintiffs’ other supporting documents go no further to show that
Plaintiffs were not paid for the time worked. Attached to Plaintiffs’ Motion is a declaration by
Plaintiffs’ attorney that includes counsel’s calculation of the total amount of unpaid wages based
upon counsel’s review of Plaintiffs’ time sheets.
See Pls.’ Mot. Ralls Decl.
declaration, however, is insufficient because counsel does not have personal knowledge as to
which hours Plaintiffs worked without compensation. Similarly, the emails and letters submitted
by Plaintiffs concern pay periods between 2008 and December 2011, but do not indicate that
Plaintiffs were not paid for the hours in question between January 27, 2012 and April 27, 2012.
See Compl. Exhibits A, B. 2
Plaintiffs also failed to provide Plaintiff Walker’s time sheets for the weeks ending in
Plaintiffs’ filings also fail to include any information explaining the source or authenticity of
the exhibits attached to Plaintiffs’ complaint.
April 20, 2012, and April 27, 2012, for which they allege Plaintiff Walker was never paid. See
Compl. Exhibit H.
Thus, Plaintiffs have presented no evidence that Plaintiff Walker worked
during these time periods.
In addition, Plaintiffs’ Complaint states that Plaintiff Alston was
employed with ICSI “until March 2012,” yet Plaintiffs provide time sheets from Plaintiff Alston
which correspond to four weeks in April 2012. See Compl. Exhibit L. These four weeks in
April are also included in Plaintiff Alston’s request for unpaid wages. See Compl. ¶ 30. The
Court is confused by this inconsistency and requests clarification from Plaintiffs.
Complaint and Motion also state that Plaintiff Alston’s hourly wage was $25.89 in 2012, but
Plaintiffs have provided no evidence in support of this allegation.
In sum, Plaintiffs have submitted no evidence showing that Plaintiffs were not paid for
the hours they recorded or, at the very least, a sworn affidavit by Plaintiffs attesting under oath
that they were not paid for these specific hours. Plaintiffs only allege they were not paid for
these hours in their Complaint and in their Motion; however, statements in pleadings are not
sufficient evidence to prove Plaintiffs’ entitlement to damages. See R.W. Amrine Drywall Co,
Inc., 239 F.Supp.2d at 30. 3
To the extent that documentary evidence does not exist or is
unavailable, Plaintiffs do not indicate as much in their Motion or supporting exhibits.
Accordingly, there is no evidence upon which the Court may award damages for Plaintiffs’
unpaid wages. 4
Although the well-pleaded allegations in the complaint are deemed to be admitted for the
purposes of determining liability, the Court must make an independent determination of the sum
to be awarded. See R.W. Amrine Drywall Co, Inc., 239 F.Supp.2d at 30. In making this
independent determination, the Court “may rely on detailed affidavits or documentary evidence
to determine the appropriate sum for the default judgment.” Id.
4 The Court also raised these evidentiary issues concerning Plaintiffs’ unpaid wages when it
decided Plaintiffs’ Motions for Default Judgment in Walker I. See Order (July 3, 2013), ECF
No. , Order (Nov. 27, 2013), ECF No. .
B. Plaintiffs have provided no evidence upon which the Court may award
damages for Plaintiff Walker’s unpaid vacation hours.
Plaintiffs allege that Defendant failed to pay Plaintiff Walker for 240 hours of vacation to
which she was entitled, but was never allowed to take.
However, Plaintiffs entirely fail to
provide any evidence supporting this claim for damages.
Plaintiffs have not submitted any
document, such as an employee contract or handbook or statement of company policy,
establishing the amount of vacation to which Plaintiff Walker was entitled, nor any document or
sworn affidavit attesting to the amount of vacation that Plaintiff Walker was not allowed to use
and is thus due to be paid. Again, Plaintiffs cannot rely simply on their allegations in pleadings
to prove their entitlement to these damages. See W. Amrine Drywall Co, Inc., 239 F.Supp.2d at
To the extent that such documentary evidence does not exist or is unavailable, Plaintiffs
have not so indicated. At minimum, Plaintiffs should file a sworn affidavit signed by Plaintiff
Walker or another party with personal knowledge, attesting to the amount of vacation that
Plaintiff Walker was not allowed to use and is thus due to be paid. Consequently, there is no
evidence upon which the Court may award damages for Plaintiff Walker’s unpaid vacation
C. The Court cannot award liquidated damages because Plaintiffs have not
provided sufficient evidence to calculate the amount of unpaid wages and
unpaid vacation hours.
Without sufficient evidence to calculate the amount of unpaid wages and vacation hours
due Plaintiffs, the Court cannot calculate the liquidated damages to which Plaintiffs may be
entitled under the FLSA or the DCWPCL.
The Court also raised these evidentiary issues concerning Plaintiff Walker’s vacation hours
when it decided Plaintiffs’ Motions for Default Judgment in Walker I. See Order (July 3, 2013),
ECF No. , Order (Nov. 27, 2013), ECF No. .
D. The Court may not award attorneys’ fees and court costs at this time because
the Court has not awarded a judgment to Plaintiffs.
Plaintiffs also seek attorneys’ fees and court costs under the FLSA and the DCWPCL.
Plaintiffs have provided evidence of these attorneys’ fees and court costs in the form of the Ralls
Declaration. See Pls.’ Mot. Ralls Decl. However, under both the FLSA and the DCWPCL, a
court shall award attorneys’ fees and court costs only “in addition to any judgment awarded to
the [prevailing] plaintiff. . . .” 29 U.S.C. § 216(b), D.C. Code § 32–1308(a). Here, the Court has
not awarded a judgment to Plaintiffs. Accordingly, the Court may not award attorneys’ fees and
court costs at this time.
As Plaintiffs have failed to provide sufficient evidence of the damages to which they
claim they are entitled, the Court DENIES WITHOUT PREJUDICE Plaintiffs’  Motion for
Default Judgment. By no later than November 15, 2015, Plaintiffs shall file a revised motion
under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 55(b)(2). In their revised motion, Plaintiffs shall, at a
minimum, provide sworn affidavits from Plaintiffs, or another party with personal knowledge of
the circumstances alleged in this case, attesting under oath to (1) the amount of hours that
Plaintiffs worked but were not paid, (2) the hourly wage due to Plaintiff Alston, and (3) the
amount of vacation hours that Plaintiff Walker was not allowed to use and is thus due to be paid.
Plaintiffs, in their revised motion and affidavits, shall also (4) identify each of the exhibits
attached to Plaintiffs’ complaint, (5) attest to their authenticity, and (6) indicate how the Court
should consider the documents in determining a damage award. If Plaintiffs do not file a revised
motion for default judgment by that date, this decision will stand and the case will be dismissed.
This is the last opportunity the Court will afford Plaintiffs to provide proof of their requested
An appropriate Order accompanies this memorandum opinion.
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.
Why Is My Information Online?