Middle District of Florida enters default judgment in employee-misclassification lawsuit

By Justin Stoltzfus | Mar 12, 2018

FORT MYERS — The U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida has entered a default against a company that failed to respond to Lee County woman's claims her employee status was misclassified.

In the case of a Florida-based company Rotor Holdings, and Brittany Cohn, who was hired to work as an office assistant as an independent contractor, the court's finding was rather simple -- since there was no reaction on the part of the defendant, the court entered a default judgment against Rotor Holdings and Paul Turovsky.

In the original complaint, the plaintiff and others claimed they were not paid 1.5 times the hourly rate for hours of work above 40 hours per week. According to the complaint, the company had a track record of insufficient hourly records and other failures to document work correctly.

The plaintiff claims to have been terminated and denied part of her pay prior to the suit.

The plaintiff sought back pay, along with “reasonable” attorney’s fees.

A subsequent court order shows that after the process of serving papers to the defendant, no reaction resulted. The court noted that in these situations, it's commonplace to enter a clerk’s default against the defendant. Documents were produces showing that District of Florida Local Rule 1.07(b) provides for clerk’s default “when service of process has been effected (sic) but no appearance or response is made within the time and manner provided.”

Although the issue of employee misclassification is often highly contested and could benefit from declared outcomes and case precedent, in this case, the whole outcome hinged on the defense’s failure to act. In these types of cases, the courts will rule in an expedient way to keep the docket going. Some of these cases are also instructive in showing what happens in “scofflaw” situations, where a party may not respond appropriately to legal action, specifically, here, the proper service of papers.

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