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Liu v. Ni

United States District Court, W.D. Wisconsin

September 5, 2017

SHUANGFEN LIU and GUANGAI XIONG, Plaintiffs,
v.
KONGFENG NI, FUGU EASTERN CUISINE, INC. and NI'S AMERICAN GOLDFINCH ASIAN CUISINE GROUP, INC., Defendants.

          ORDER AND ENTRY OF DEFAULT JUDGMENT

          WILLIAM M. CONLEY DISTRICT JUDGE

         Consistent with an in-person hearing on plaintiffs' motion for default judgment (dkt. #8), the court will now enter judgment granting plaintiffs: $17, 088.26 in statutory damages for unpaid federal minimum wage and overtime due under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”), 29 U.S.C. § 216(b); $17, 088.26 in punitive damages for FLSA retaliation; and $12, 695 in attorneys' fees and costs consistent with the findings and conclusions set forth below.

         BACKGROUND

         Plaintiffs Shaungfen Liu and Guangai Xiong filed this action against defendants Kongfeng Ni, Fugu Eastern Cuisine Inc. and Ni's American Goldfinch Asian Cuisine Group, Inc., alleging violations of the FLSA for defendants' failure to pay minimum wage and overtime and for Ni's retaliatory actions. The clerk of court entered default against defendants on July 5, 2017, after they failed to answer or otherwise appear in this lawsuit despite having been served. (Dkt. #6.)

         On July 25, 2017, plaintiffs filed their motion for default judgment and supporting materials, which their counsel also mailed to Ni at the address where he had earlier been served personally. The court held an in-person hearing on plaintiffs' motion for default judgment on August 23, 2017, at which plaintiffs appeared by counsel and defendants again failed to appear.

         OPINION

         The court accepts the basic facts as pled in plaintiff's complaint in light of defendants' default. See Domanus v. Lewicki, 742 F.3d 290, 303 (7th Cir. 2014) (upon default judgment, “allegations in the complaint relating to liability are true”). Based on plaintiffs' submissions, as well as counsel's statements at the hearing, the court makes the following findings of fact and conclusions of law.

         1. Defendant Kongfeng Ni is the owner of Fugu Eastern Cuisine, Inc., and Ni's American Goldfinch Asian Cuisine Group, Inc.

         2. Plaintiffs entered into separate agreements with Ni by which they would each work open-to-close shifts at his restaurant in Madison, Wisconsin, in exchange for monthly wages, as well as room and board at a property he owned in Madison.

         3. Plaintiffs each worked 39 days, each for a total of 248 hours at minimum wage and 227 and a half hours of overtime, for which they received no wages from defendants.

         4. Mr. Ni informed plaintiffs verbally that he was terminating their employment on April 3, 2017, and that he was not going to pay them any wages because he did not have the money to do so and because plaintiffs were required by law to pay income taxes before receiving any wages.

         5. Plaintiffs informed Mr. Ni on April 7, 2017, that they had contacted an attorney to pursue an unpaid wage claim against him. Later that same day, he served them with an eviction notice stating, contrary to their earlier agreement, that plaintiffs owed $2, 014 in back rent.

         6. On April 14, 2017, Mr. Ni constructively evicted plaintiffs by shutting off the electricity in their apartment.

         7. Pursuant to 29 U.S.C. § 216(b), each plaintiff is entitled to $4, 272.07 in unpaid minimum wage and overtime compensation, as well as an equal amount in liquidated damages, ...


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