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Evans v. Loveland Automotive Investments, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Colorado

January 13, 2015

WILLIAM EVANS, and JEFFREY THAYER, Plaintiffs,
v.
LOVELAND AUTOMOTIVE INVESTMENTS, INC., JOHN RICHARD PIPE d/b/a LOVELAND AUTO TRANSPORT, and PIPELINE AUTO TRANSPORT, INC., Defendants.

ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFFS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

WILLIAM J. MARTÍNEZ, District Judge.

Plaintiffs William Evans and Jeffery Thayer (together "Plaintiffs") bring this action against their former employers Loveland Automotive Investments, Inc., John Richard Pipe d/b/a Loveland Auto Transport, and Pipeline Auto Transport, Inc. (collectively "Defendants") alleging violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA"), 29 U.S.C. § 201, et seq. and other related claims under Colorado law. (ECF No. 1.) Before the Court is Plaintiffs' Motion for Summary Judgment ("Motion"). (ECF No. 31.) For the reasons set forth below, the Motion is granted.

I. BACKGROUND

Plaintiffs worked as truck drivers for the Defendants, transporting vehicles across state lines. (ECF No. 1 at ¶ 1.) Plaintiffs allege that they were not paid for services that they provided under a contract with Defendants, and that Defendants illegally deducted amounts from their wages. ( Id. at ¶ 7-10.)

Plaintiffs initiated this action on September 5, 2013, and bring claims against the Defendants for (1) FLSA violations; (2) violations of the Colorado Wage Claim Act, COLO. REV. STAT. § 8-4-101, et seq.; (3) violations of Colorado's dishonored check statute, COLO. REV. STAT. § 13-21-109; (4) breach of contract; and (5) relief in quasi contract. ( Id. at p. 4-8.) Defendants were all served on September 23, 2013, and their answers or responsive pleadings were due on October 16, 2013. (ECF Nos. 9-11.) When Defendants failed to answer or otherwise respond to the Complaint, Plaintiffs moved for entry of default. (ECF Nos. 12 & 14.) On October 17, 2013, default was entered against Loveland Automotive Investments, Inc. and Pipeline Auto Transport, Inc. (ECF No. 15.) Default was entered against John Pipe on November 13, 2013. (ECF No. 20.)

On November 12, 2013, Defendant Pipe filed a Motion to Set Aside Entry of Default on behalf of all Defendants. (ECF No. 17.) Although the Court granted the Motion as to Defendant Pipe, it was denied as to Defendants Loveland Auto Transport, Inc. and Pipeline Auto Transport, Inc. (ECF No. 24.) Defendant Pipe was given until December 6, 2013 to file an answer or responsive pleading, which he failed to do. Plaintiff thereafter moved for an entry of default as to all Defendants pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 55(a), and the Clerk of Court entered default against all Defendants on December 13, 2013 (ECF Nos. 26-27). Plaintiffs filed their Motion for Summary Judgment on June 2, 2014. (ECF No. 31.) No responsive briefs were filed by any of the Defendants.

II. LEGAL STANDARD

Summary judgment is appropriate only if there is no genuine issue of material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986); Henderson v. Inter-Chem Coal Co., Inc., 41 F.3d 567, 569 (10th Cir. 1994). Whether there is a genuine dispute regarding a material fact depends upon whether the evidence presents a sufficient disagreement as to require submission to a jury or, conversely, is so one-sided that one party must prevail as a matter of law. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, 477 U.S. 242, 248-49 (1986); Carey v. U.S. Postal Service, 812 F.2d 621, 623 (10th Cir. 1987).

A fact is "material" if it pertains to an element of a claim or defense, and a factual dispute is "genuine" if the evidence is so contradictory that if the matter went to trial, a reasonable party could return a verdict for either party. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248. The Court must examine the facts in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party, and resolve factual ambiguities against the moving party. Houston v. Nat'l General Ins. Co., 817 F.2d 83, 85 (10th Cir. 1987). The summary judgment standard thus favors a right to trial. See id.

III. ANALYSIS

Plaintiffs filed the instant Motion for Summary Judgment on June 2, 2014. (ECF No. 31.) Defendants failed to file any response to the Motion. Despite Defendants' failure to oppose the Motion, the Court cannot grant summary judgment without first determining whether Plaintiffs have met their burden of production. See Reed v. Bennett, 312 F.3d 1190, 1194-95 (10th Cir. 2002). The court should only grant summary judgment where the facts alleged entitle the moving party to judgment as a matter of law. Id. If the evidence produced in support of summary judgment fails to meet this burden, "summary judgment must be denied even if no opposing evidentiary matter is presented. " Id. at 1194 (quotation marks omitted) (emphasis in original).

In deciding Plaintiffs' Motion, the Court must also consider that the Clerk of Court has entered default against all Defendants in this matter under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 55(a). (ECF No. 27.) Pursuant to Rule 55(b)(1), default judgment must be entered by the clerk of court if the claim is for "a sum certain"; in all other cases, "the party must apply to the court for a default judgment." Fed.R.Civ.P. 55(b)(2). The Court thus interprets Plaintiffs' Motion for Summary Judgment as an application for default judgment under Rule 55(b)(2).

Before granting a motion for default judgment, the Court must take several steps. First, the Court must ensure that it has personal jurisdiction over the defaulting defendants and subject matter jurisdiction over the action. See Williams v. Life Sav. & Loan, 802 F.2d 1200, 1202-03 (10th Cir. 1986). Next, the Court should consider whether the well-pleaded allegations of fact, which are deemed admitted by a defendant in default, support a judgment on the claims against the defaulting defendants. See Fed. Fruit & Produce Co. v. Red Tomato, Inc., 2009 WL 765872, at *3 (D. Colo. March 20, 2009) ("Even after entry of default, however, it remains for the court to consider whether the unchallenged facts constitute a legitimate basis for the entry of a judgment.") (citations omitted). "In determining whether a claim for relief has been established, the well-pleaded facts of the complaint are deemed true." Id. (citing Dundee Cement Co. v. Howard Pipe & Concrete Prods., Inc., 722 F.2d 1319, 1323 (7th Cir. 1983)).

Once the Court is satisfied that default judgment should be entered, it has the discretion to hold a hearing to determine the amount of damages. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 55(b)(2). Generally, a damages hearing is not needed when the damages requested are for a sum certain. See United States v. Craighead, 176 F.Appx. 922, 925 (10th Cir. 2006).

In this matter, the Court will therefore determine: (1) whether the Court's jurisdiction over the Defendants and claims is proper; (2) whether the well-pleaded allegations of fact support a judgment on the claims against Defendants as a matter of law; and (3) what damages ...


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