United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division
JANE MAGNUS-STINSON, CHIEF JUDGE.
pending before the Court is a Motion to Set Aside Default
Judgment, [Filing No. 23], and a Motion for
Reconsideration, [Filing No. 30], filed by Defendant AU
Hospitality, LLC d/b/a Motel 6 (“AU”).
Each has to do with the Court's entry of default judgment
in favor of Plaintiff Nakita Bell on January 3, 2018,
[Filing No. 16], and AU's subsequent efforts to
set aside the judgment.
first Motion, AU argues that it was not properly served with
process in this matter. On February 4, 2019, the Court held
an evidentiary hearing on the issue of service of process.
second Motion, AU urges the Court to reconsider its Order of
January 14, 2019 and set aside the “damages
aspect” of the default judgment in the event the Court
does not set aside the default judgment itself.
Court now considers each of the two pending Motions in turn.
March 29, 2017, Ms. Bell filed suit against AU alleging that
during her employment with AU, she was not paid overtime pay
in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act, 29 U.S.C.
§ 201, et seq. [Filing No. 1 at 1-2.]
As a result. Ms. Bell alleged that AU owed her over fourteen
thousand dollars in overtime pay and liquidated damages.
[Filing No. 1 at 2.]
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 by
delivering a copy of the summons and complaint on motel
manager Mark Crawford, who Mr. Rorie described as “Age:
30, Sex: M, Race/Skin Color: Caucasian, Height:
6'0”, Weight: 260, Hair: Brown, Glasses: N.”
[Filing No. 10.]
August 16, 2017, Ms. Bell filed a Motion for Clerk's
Entry of Default, [Filing No. 11], which the Court
granted on September 18, 2017, [Filing No. 13]. On
December 4, 2017, Ms. Bell filed a Motion for Default
Judgment, [Filing No. 14], which the Court granted
on January 3, 2018, [Filing No. 15]. On the same
day, the Court entered final judgment in favor of Ms. Bell in
the amount of $14, 430.00 in overtime compensation and
liquidated damages, and $2, 854.25 in attorneys' fees and
costs. [Filing No. 16.]
November 7, 2018, AU filed a Motion to Set Aside Default
Judgment pursuant to Rule 60(b), [Filing No. 23],
which the Court took under advisement, [Filing No.
27]. In an Order dated January 14, 2019, (the
“January 14, 2019 Order”), the Court
found that the record before it contained “two
conflicting affidavits: one in which process server Bill
Rorie claims that he served Mr. Crawford, and another in
which Mr. Crawford claims that he was not served and that the
proof of service submitted by Ms. Bell does not contain his
signature.” [Filing No. 27 at 7.] As
such, the Court found that an evidentiary hearing was
evidentiary hearing Mr. Rorie, and Mr. Crawford both
testified, as well as motel employee Bernella Harris. Mr.
Rorie testified that he encountered Mr. Crawford twice in the
course of serving process in this case: once when he
unsuccessfully attempted to serve the registered agent, and a
second time when he served process on Mr. Crawford. He
testified that he specifically recalled serving Mr. Crawford
and that Mr. Crawford was wearing a hat when he was served
and had been doing maintenance work. Mr. Rorie then
identified Mr. Crawford in the courtroom. Both Mr. Crawford
and Ms. Harris testified that Mr. Crawford never wore a hat.
Mr. Crawford further testified that he never did maintenance
work at the motel and that he is 5'9” and weighs
275 pounds and was 45 years old when Mr. Rorie allegedly
served process on him. At the close of the hearing the Court
once again took AU's Motion to Set Aside Default Judgment
at the hearing, the Court granted two pending Motions to
Withdraw Attorney Appearances for Defense counsel and ordered
AU to retain counsel on or before February 19, 2019.
[Filing No. 31 at 1.] On February 12, 2019, AU's
new counsel entered an appearance in this matter.
days before the evidentiary hearing, AU filed a Motion for
Reconsideration as to the Court's January 14, 2019 Order,
[Filing No. 30], to which Ms. Bell has responded.
the Court considers each of the two pending Motions,
beginning with the ...