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Evans v. Loveland Automotive Investments, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Colorado

March 30, 2016

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 DENYING MOTION TO RECALCULATE JUDGMENT AND FOR ATTORNEYS’ FEES ON APPEAL

William J. Martinez, United States District Judge.

Before the Court is Plaintiffs’ Motion to Recalculate Judgment and for Additional Attorneys’ Fees for Successful Appeal. (ECF No. 45.) All Defendants remain in default (see ECF Nos. 27, 32, 33), and no response from Defendants was otherwise received.

For the reasons explained below, the Court will not recalculate or otherwise modify its previously entered Judgment (ECF No. 33) because: (a) the Tenth Circuit’s mandate forecloses the possibility of awarding both liquidated damages under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), 29 U.S.C. §§ 201 et seq., and prejudgment interest under the Colorado Wage Claim Act (CWCA), Colo. Rev. Stat. §§ 8-4-101 et seq.; and (b) awarding FLSA liquidated damages instead of CWCA prejudgment interest would leave Plaintiffs with less money than awarded in the Judgment as it currently stands. In addition, the Court may not grant attorneys’ fees for the appeal because Evans did not request them from the Tenth Circuit.

I. BACKGROUND & PROCEDURAL HISTORY

Plaintiffs brought to this action against Defendants for unpaid wages under theories of breach of contract, violation of the FLSA and CWCA, and (with respect to Plaintiff Thayer) violation of Colorado’s dishonored check statute. (ECF No. 1.) Defendants failed to enter an appearance and the Clerk entered default against them. (See ECF No. 27.) Plaintiffs then moved for summary judgment (ECF No. 31), which this Court interpreted as a motion for default judgment (see ECF No. 32 at 4). The Court found that Plaintiffs had established liability on all of their statutory theories of relief. (Id. at 7-10.)

As for damages, the Court concluded that awarding damages under both the FLSA and CWCA would constitute double recovery, and so the Court awarded only CWCA damages because, under the circumstances, the CWCA allowed for a greater recovery-actual unpaid wages-as compared to the FLSA, which calculates actual damages by multiplying uncompensated hours by the federal minimum wage. (Id. at 11.) The Court also awarded the CWCA-authorized 125% penalty on the unpaid wages, prejudgment interest of 8% on the unpaid wages, and postjudgment interest at the federal statutory rate. (Id. at 12, 13-14, 15.) The Judgment accordingly followed. (ECF No. 33.)

In electing to award Plaintiffs CWCA damages but not FLSA damages, the Court did not specifically discuss FLSA liquidated damages, which the FLSA awards as “an additional equal amount” (i.e., an amount equal to actual damages). 29 U.S.C. § 216(b). Nor did the Court discuss whether FLSA liquidated damages could be awarded alongside the CWCA 125% penalty. The Court simply stated that it would award damages under the CWCA, not the FLSA. (ECF No. 32 at 11.)

Plaintiff Evans (but not Thayer) appealed to the Tenth Circuit, challenging the implied denial of FLSA liquidated damages. (ECF No. 35.) Evans acknowledged that he could not recover actual damages (the unpaid wages themselves) under both the CWCA and the FLSA, but argued that FLSA liquidated damages could be awarded alongside the CWCA penalty because FLSA liquidated damages are considered compensatory (essentially a rough approximation of consequential damages) whereas the CWCA penalty is designed as a deterrent to the employer. (See Evans v. Loveland Auto. Invs., Inc. et al., No. 15-1049 (10th Cir.), Brief of Appellant William Evans at 4-11 (filed May 6, 2015).)

In an unpublished order and judgment, the Tenth Circuit agreed with Evans and held that this Court could award FLSA liquidated damages in addition to the CWCA penalty. (ECF No. 42 at 4-6.) The Tenth Circuit went further, however, and noted that FLSA liquidated damages and prejudgment interest cannot coexist:

[L]ike FLSA liquidated damages, prejudgment interest also is meant to compensate the wronged party for being deprived of the monetary value of his loss from the time of the loss to the payment of the judgment. Thus, on remand, if the district court awards FLSA liquidated damages it must vacate its award of prejudgment interest.
Therefore, we remand to the district court to recalculate the amount of damages in light of our determination that it is permissible for the court to award both FLSA liquidated damages and a CWCA penalty. If the court awards FLSA liquidated damages, it must vacate the award of prejudgment interest.

(Id. at 6-7 (internal quotation marks and citations omitted).)

Following issuance of the mandate, this Court ordered Plaintiff Evans to file a motion stating the amount of damages to which he believed he was entitled in light of the Tenth Circuit’s disposition. (ECF No. 44.) Evans-and Thayer-timely ...


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