Falaiye v. CCA Academic Resources, LLC et al
MEMORANDUM OPINION. Signed by Judge Paula Xinis on 6/12/2017. (tds, Deputy Clerk)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF MARYLAND
Civil Action No. PX 16-2887
CCA ACADEMIC RESOURCES, LLC and
Pending in this case involving alleged violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act,
Maryland Wage and Hour Law, and the Maryland Wage Payment and Collection Law is Plaintiff
Akintola Falaiye’s motion for default judgment. ECF No. 13. The issues are fully briefed and the
Court now rules pursuant to Local Rule 105.6 because no hearing is necessary. For the reasons
stated below, the motion is denied.
Defendant CCA Academic Resources, d/b/a Capitol Christian Academy (“CCA” or the
“School”), is a private high school located in Upper Marlboro, Maryland. Complaint, ECF No. 1,
¶ 2. In December 2015, CCA hired Akintola Falaiye (“Plaintiff”) as a teacher to instruct students
on U.S. history, U.S. government, cultural studies, and world history. Id. ¶¶ 4, 6. Plaintiff taught
classes for approximately three hours each weekday and spent an additional two hours each day
planning his curriculum, grading papers, and performing other related tasks. Id. ¶ 7.
Plaintiff alleges that during his tenure with CCA, he often requested that Defendants
provide him formal documentation of his salary and rate of pay. His requests were denied. Id. ¶
8. In fact, CCA, along with the school’s principal, Van Whitfield (collectively, the
“Defendants”), kept no records pertaining to Plaintiff’s employment. Id. ¶ 9. Plaintiff also alleges
that Defendants did not pay him his agreed-upon compensation apart from a single $1,000
payment tendered to him three months into his employment. Id. ¶ 11; see also Pl.’s Mot. Default
J., ECF No. 13-1 at 2. Frustrated by this, Plaintiff resigned in April 2016, just five months into
his tenure with the School. Defendants tendered one additional payment of $500 to Plaintiff
several months after he resigned. Pl.’s Mot. Default J., ECF No. 13-1 at 2.
On August 16, 2016, Plaintiff filed a Complaint in this Court against the Defendants for
violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”), 29 U.S.C. § 201 et seq.; the Maryland
Wage and Hour Law (“MWHL”), Md. Code Ann., Lab. & Empl., § 3-401 et seq.; and the
Maryland Wage Payment and Collection Law (“MWPCL”), Lab. & Empl., § 3-501 et seq. The
summons was returned executed as to Van Whitfield. See ECF No. 10. The affidavit of
Plaintiff’s process server demonstrates that he personally served Defendant Whitfield with the
summons and a copy of the Complaint on September 15, 2016. This affidavit, however, does not
demonstrate that CCA had been properly served.
On November 2, 2016, Plaintiff moved Clerk’s entry of default. See ECF No. 11. In so
moving, Plaintiff avers that Defendants were served with the summons and complaint, “with Van
Whitfield accepting service for himself and as representative for CCA Academic Resources.” Id.
On November 16, 2016 the Clerk entered an Order of Default. See ECF No. 12. While the Order
of Default appears to be an entry of default against both defendants, the Order simply states that
“the summons and Complaint were properly served upon the above named Defendant,” without
specifying which of the two Defendants in this case the Clerk was referring to. Id. (emphasis
Rule 4(m) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that, “[i]f a defendant is not
served within 90 days after the complaint is filed, the court—on motion or on its own after notice
to the plaintiff—must dismiss the action without prejudice against that defendant or order that
service be made within a specified time.” CCA appears to be a Maryland corporation, and under
Rule 4(h)(1), a domestic corporation must be served:
(A) in the manner prescribed by Rule 4(e)(1) for serving an individual; or
(B) by delivering a copy of the summons and of the complaint to an officer, a
managing or general agent, or any other agent authorized by appointment or by
law to receive service of process and—if the agent is one authorized by statute
and the statute so requires—by also mailing a copy of each to the defendant.
Here, while Plaintiff alleges that Van Whitfield accepted service on CCA’s behalf, the
only proof of service demonstrates that Whitfield was personally served. No mention is made of
CCA, or whether Whitfield accepted service on CCA’s behalf pursuant to Rule 4(h).
Accordingly, service appears to have been properly effectuated only as to Whitfield as an
individual defendant. However, the Clerk’s Entry of Default does not explain which of the two
Defendants the Clerk entered default against. It simply states that a default is entered for want of
answer by “said Defendant.” Accordingly, the Clerk’s Entry of Default at ECF No. 12 must be
vacated. The Court will allow Plaintiff fourteen (14) days from the issuance of the following
Order to supplement the record with evidence that it properly served CCA or show good cause
why his claims against CCA should not be dismissed without prejudice pursuant to Rule 4(m) of
the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.
Further, the Court must deny Plaintiff’s motion for default judgment even if it were
advanced as to Whitefield only. As explained above, Plaintiff filed a Complaint in this Court
against the Defendants for violations of the FLSA, MWHL, MWPCL, alleging that Whitfield
and CCA failed to pay him a least the minimum wage for the hours he worked between
December 2015 and April 2016 and failed to promptly pay him the wages owed to him. A
necessary precondition to establishing liability under the FLSA, MWHL, and MPCWL is
showing that an employment relationship existed between the parties. See Coles v. Von Paris
Enterprises, Inc, No. PJM 14-450, 2014 WL 6893861, at *3 (D. Md. Dec. 3, 2014); Butler v. PP
& G, Inc., No. WMN-13-43, 2013 WL 4026983, at *4 (D. Md. Aug. 6, 2013).
Whether an individual or entity is an “employer” under these statutes must be determined
by applying the “economic reality” test. See Schultz v. Capital Int’l Sec., Inc., 466 F.3d 298, 304
(4th Cir. 2006). An “employer” is one who (1) has the authority to hire and fire employees; (2)
supervises and controls work schedules or employment conditions; (3) determines the rate and
method of payment; and (4) maintains employment records. Jacobson v. Comcast Corp., 740 F.
Supp. 2d 683, 689 (D. Md. 2010). Under this test, no one factor is dispositive, and courts should
consider the totality of the circumstances. Id.
Plaintiff’s allegations in the Complaint as to Whitfield do not establish that he is an
employer under the FLSA, MWHL, or MWPCL. The Complaint merely alleges that Whitfield
was the “principal” without detailing Whitfield’s responsibilities generally or as related to
Plaintiff. See ECF No. 1, ¶ 3. Without more, Whitfield cannot be considered an employer even
when viewing the pleaded facts most favorably to Plaintiff. See Jacobson, 740 F. Supp. 2d at
689. Accordingly, Plaintiff’s motion for default judgment is denied as to Whitfield. Plaintiff will
be provided fourteen (14) days from the date of the following Order to file an amended
complaint curing this deficiency.
United States District Judge
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