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Bell v. AU Hospitality, LLC

United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division

January 14, 2019

Nakita Bell, Plaintiff,
v.
AU Hospitality, LLC, d/b/a Motel 6, Defendant.

          ORDER

          Hon. Jane Magnus-Stinson, Chief Judge

         Presently pending before the Court is a Motion to Set Aside Default Judgment, [Filing No. 23], filed by Defendant AU Hospitality, LLC d/b/a Motel 6 (“AU”). AU filed its Motion ten months after the Court entered default judgment in favor of Plaintiff Nakita Bell on January 3, 2018. [Filing No. 16.] For the reasons set forth herein, AU's Motion is TAKEN UNDER ADVISEMENT and the Court SETS this matter for an in-person evidentiary hearing.

         I.

         Standard of Review

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b) sets forth several grounds for relief from a final judgment, order, or proceeding and provides that “[o]n motion and just terms, the court may relieve a party or its legal representative from a final judgment, order, or proceeding.” Rule 60(b)(4) provides that courts may set aside a final judgment when “the judgment is void.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 60(b)(4). More specifically, “a district court may relieve a party from a final judgment if the judgment is void for lack of personal jurisdiction over that party.” Philos Techs., Inc. v. Philos & D, Inc., 645 F.3d 851, 854 (7th Cir. 2011). If a defendant was not properly served with a summons and the complaint, the court has no personal jurisdiction over a defendant, and the default judgment must be set aside as void. See, e.g., Richard v. Mahajan Corp., 2011 WL 470431, at *2 (S.D. Ind. Feb. 3, 2011); see also Homer v. Jones-Bey, 415 F.3d 748, 753 (7th Cir. 2005).

         II.

         Background

         On March 29, 2017, Ms. Bell filed suit against AU alleging violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act, 29 U.S.C. § 201, et seq. [Filing No. 1 at 1.] Specifically, Ms. Bell alleged that during her employment with AU, she was not paid overtime pay. [Filing No. 1 at 2.] As such, Ms. Bell contended that AU owed her over fourteen thousand dollars in overtime pay and liquidated damages. [Filing No. 1 at 2.]

         On June 14, 2017, Ms. Bell filed a Motion for Leave to Perfect Service upon Defendant through the U.S. Marshal. [Filing No. 6.] In support of her Motion, Ms. Bell attached the affidavit of Pamela Conley, a process server employed by Express Process Service, Inc., who attested as follows:

4/6/2017 11:42 am Attempted service at 7610 E, Old Trail Avenue, Indianapolis, IN 46219, Manager won't accept. This is American Hospitality/ Comfort Stay Inn. Different entity. Still owned by Ahsan Usman.manager says this should go to motel 6 at 5845 Roekville rd

[Filing No. 6-1.]

         On June 16, 2017, the Court denied Ms. Bell's Motion for Leave to Perfect Service upon Defendant through the U.S. Marshal, and directed her “to make multiple attempts to serve the defendant in accordance with Rule 4(c).” [Filing No. 7 at 2.] The Court further directed that if Ms. Bell's “attempts are unsuccessful, the Court provides leave for [Ms. Bell] to re-raise her request for service via a United States marshal.” [Filing No. 7 at 2.]

         On July 28, 2017, Ms. Bell filed an affidavit of service with the Court, in which Express Process Service, Inc. Process Server Bill Rorie attested that he served process on AU as follows:

I, Bill Rorie, being duly sworn, depose and say that on the 25th day of July, 2017 ...

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