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Chaparro v. Brevard Extraditions, Inc.

United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Orlando Division

March 3, 2017

JOEL CHAPARRO, Plaintiff,
v.
BREVARD EXTRADITIONS, INC. and U.S. PRISONER TRANSPORT, INC., Defendants.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          DANIEL C. IRICK UNITES STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         This cause comes before the Court for consideration without oral argument on the following motion:

MOTION: SECOND AMENDED JOINT MOTION TO APPROVE SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT (Doc. 29)
FILED: January 10, 2017
THEREON it is RECOMMENDED that the motion be GRANTED in part and DENIED in part.

         I. BACKGROUND

         On May 5, 2016, Plaintiff instituted this action against Defendants alleging causes of action under the Fair Labor Standards Act (the FLSA), 29 U.S.C. § 255, for minimum wage violations, and under Florida common law for unpaid wages. Doc. 1. In his verified answers to the Court's interrogatories, Plaintiff alleged that Defendants owed him a total of $3, 118.96, excluding liquidated damages, fees, and costs. Doc. 16 at 2. Plaintiff filed a Notice of Settlement on September 12, 2016. Doc. 22.

         On September 21, 2016, the parties filed a Joint Motion to Approve Settlement Agreement (the Original Motion), to which the parties attached their settlement agreement (the Original Settlement Agreement). Doc. 24. On November 23, 2016, the Court denied the Original Motion because, among other things, the Original Settlement Agreement included language that was overly broad and susceptible to an interpretation foreclosing Plaintiff from bringing causes of action wholly unrelated to the wage claims at issue in this case. Doc. 26. Specifically, the Court was concerned with the following language: “Plaintiff shall not initiate or instigate any future judicial or administrative proceedings against the Defendants that in any way involve allegations or facts arising from the hours worked during his employment with the Defendants in any forum as of the date of execution of this Agreement.” Docs. 24 at 6; 26. The Court ordered the parties to either remove the language or amend it to limit the scope of the release to claims for unpaid wages. Doc. 26.

         On December 9, 2016, the parties filed an Amended Joint Motion to Approve Settlement Agreement (the Amended Motion). Doc. 27. However, the parties failed to attach a copy of the proposed amended settlement agreement to the Amended Motion. Id. Without a copy of the proposed amended settlement agreement, the Court was unable to determine if the parties had complied with the Court's November 23, 2016 Order. See Doc. 26. Thus, on December 21, 2016, the Court denied the Amended Motion and ordered the parties to file a second amended motion.[1]Doc. 28.

         On January 10, 2017, the parties filed a Second Amended Joint Motion to Approve Settlement Agreement (the Second Amended Motion), to which the parties attached their amended settlement agreement (the Amended Settlement Agreement). Doc. 29. The Amended Settlement Agreement contained the exact same language that the Court had previously ordered the parties to remove or amend.[2] Docs. 24 at 6; 26-1 at 3; 29.

         II. LAW

         For an FLSA settlement to be final and enforceable, the parties must obtain the Court's approval of the settlement agreement. See Lynn's Food Stores, Inc. v. United States Dep't of Labor, 679 F.2d 1350, 1352-53 (11th Cir. 1982). Before giving its approval, the Court must scrutinize the settlement agreement to determine whether it is a fair and reasonable resolution of a bona fide dispute. Id. at 1353-55. In doing so, the Court should consider the following factors:

(1) the existence of collusion behind the settlement;
(2) the complexity, expense, and likely duration of the ...

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