United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Fort Myers Division
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION 
MCCOY UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Pending before the Court is the Joint Motion to Approve
Settlement Agreement and to Dismiss With Prejudice (Doc.
31) and the Settlement Agreement and Mutual General
Release of Claims (Doc. 31-1) filed on March 13,
2017. The parties request that this Court approve the
parties' settlement of their Fair Labor Standards Act
(“FLSA”) claims. After review of the parties'
submissions, the Court cannot recommend approval of the
proposed Settlement Agreement as it currently stands.
approve the settlement of an FLSA claim, the Court must
determine whether the settlement is a “fair and
reasonable resolution of a bona fide dispute” of the
claims raised pursuant to the FLSA. Lynn's Food
Store, Inc. v. United States, 679 F.2d 1350, 1355 (11th
Cir. 1982); 29 U.S.C. § 216. There are two ways for a
claim under the FLSA to be settled or compromised.
Id. at 1352-53. The first way, under 29 U.S.C.
§ 216(c), provides for the Secretary of Labor to
supervise payments of unpaid wages owed to employees.
Id. at 1353. The second way, under 29 U.S.C. §
216(b), is by a lawsuit brought by employees against their
employer to recover back wages. Id. When employees
file suit, the proposed settlement must be presented to the
District Court for its review and determination that the
settlement is fair and reasonable. Id. at 1353-54.
the inclusion of a Mutual General Release in the proposed
Settlement Agreement precludes a finding of fairness and
reasonableness for two reasons. (SeeDoc. 31-1).
the language in the Joint Motion conflicts with the language
in the Settlement Agreement concerning the consideration, if
any, paid to Plaintiff for the Mutual General Release and
nowhere do the parties actually specify the amount of
consideration to be paid for the Mutual General Release. The
Joint Motion states that the terms of the settlement include
the payment of $1, 000.00 to Plaintiff Beverly Adkins in
consideration for her alleged unpaid minimum wages and
liquidated damages, “as well as consideration for a
general release.” (Doc. 31 at ¶ 5;
see also Id . at ¶ 4). The Joint Motion
suggests, therefore, that consideration for the Mutual
General Release is included within and comingled with the $1,
000.00 payment to the Plaintiff. (Id.). Yet, the
language in the underlying Settlement Agreement provides only
that: “Of the settlement proceeds, Plaintiff will
receive a total of ONE THOUSAND DOLLARS ($1, 000.00),
representing wages and liquidated damages.”
(Doc. 31-1 at ¶ 3) (emphasis added). On the
face of the Settlement Agreement, there is no consideration
specifically allocated to the Mutual General Release separate
and apart from Plaintiff's wages and liquidated damages
claims. Thus, the language of the Settlement Agreement does
not appear to support the representation in the Joint Motion
that the $1, 000.00 payment to Plaintiff includes specific
consideration for the Mutual General Release. (Doc. 31 at
¶ 5). The Court cannot reconcile this
discrepancy and, therefore, cannot (1) find that the proposed
settlement is fair and reasonable, or (2) recommend that the
Settlement Agreement be approved as it is currently written.
the scope of the purported Mutual General Release is so
facially broad that without more information concerning the
amount of consideration to be paid in exchange for the
release from Plaintiff, the Court cannot determine whether
the release is fair and reasonable. The Lynn's
Food analysis necessitates a review of the proposed
consideration as to each term and condition of the
settlement, including foregone or released claims.
Shearer v. Estep Const., Inc., No.
6:14-CV-1658-ORL-41, 2015 WL 2402450, at *3 (M.D. Fla. May
20, 2015). The valuation of unknown claims is a
“fundamental impediment” to a fairness
determination. Id.; see also Moreno v. Regions
Bank, 729 F.Supp.2d 1346, 1350-52 (M.D. Fla. 2010).
Moreover, the mutuality of a general release does not resolve
the issue because the reciprocal release is “equally as
indeterminate as Plaintiff's release.”
Shearer, 2015 WL 2402450, at Id. at *4.
Defendant provided a broad release to Plaintiff that includes
“all claims, known and unknown, which Defendant has or
may have as of the date of execution of this
Agreement.” (Doc. 31-1 at ¶ 5(a)). The
release language also states that Defendant's release of
Plaintiff is “intended to be, and is, broad [sic] as
the release of Defendant in paragraph 5(b) below.”
(See Id . at ¶ 5(a)). Paragraph 5(b) sets forth
the Plaintiff's release of Defendant and includes a
lengthy enumerated list of potential claims that includes,
but is certainly not limited to, FLSA claims. (See Id
. at ¶ 5(b)). Plaintiff's release of the
Defendant includes “any and all claims, known and
unknown, which Plaintiff has or may have as of the date of
execution of this Agreement, including, but not limited to,
” the lengthy enumerated list of potential claims that
goes far beyond FLSA claims. (See id.).
only explanation the parties offer as to the value of the
Mutual General Release is the following paragraph of the
Specifically, in exchange for Plaintiff's general release
of claims, Defendant is also providing Plaintiff with a
reciprocal general release. The general release is important
to each party to ensure that there will not be future
litigation on events arising prior to approval, including
claims that Defendant may have against Plaintiff.
31 at ¶ 3). This explanation is not sufficient
for the Court to determine the value of the General Release
for either Plaintiff or Defendant. See
Shearer, 2015 WL 2402450, at *3-4.
foregoing reasons, this Court cannot make the requisite
determination under Lynn's Food as to the
fairness and reasonableness of the proposed Settlement
Agreement. Although the other terms of the Settlement
Agreement appear fair and reasonable, the problems noted
above preclude approval of the current Settlement Agreement.
IT IS RESPECTFULLY RECOMMENDED that:
Joint Motion to Approve Settlement Agreement and to Dismiss
With Prejudice (Doc. 31) be DENIED without
parties be ordered to elect one of the following options no