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Saunders v. Commercial Companies, Inc.

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

April 17, 2017

HAHSHIM SAUNDERS, Plaintiff,
v.
COMMERCIAL COMPANIES, INC., Defendant.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          GREGORY J. KELLY UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         This cause came on for consideration without oral argument on the following motion filed herein:

MOTION: JOINT MOTION TO APPROVE SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT (Doc. No. 18)
FILED: March 27, 2017
THEREON it is RECOMMENDED that the motion be GRANTED in part and DENIED in part.

         I. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         On October 26, 2016, Plaintiff filed a complaint (the “Complaint”) against Defendant. Doc. No. 1. Count I alleges unpaid overtime in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act (the “FLSA”), 29 U.S.C. § 201 et seq. Id. at 5. Count II is for recovery of minimum wages for Plaintiff's final work week. Id. at 6; Doc. No. 18 at 1. On January 23, 2017, Plaintiff filed answers to the Court's interrogatories. Doc. No. 15. In the answers, Plaintiff claims $5, 220 in damages for unpaid overtime.[1] Id. at 4. Plaintiff also claims an equal amount in liquidated damages. Id. On March 27, 2017, the parties filed their Joint Motion to Approve Settlement Agreement (the “Motion”). Doc. No. 18. In the Motion, the parties represent that they have reached a settlement with respect to all claims. Id. at 4. Accordingly, the parties request the Court approve their attached settlement agreement (the “Agreement”) and issue an order dismissing Plaintiff's claims with prejudice. Id. at 5. The matter has been referred to the undersigned for a report and recommendation. Doc. No. 9.

         II. APPLICABLE LAW

         In Lynn's Food Stores, Inc. v. United States Department of Labor, 679 F.2d 1350, 1352-53 (11th Cir. 1982), the Eleventh Circuit addressed the means by which an FLSA settlement may become final and enforceable:

There are only two ways in which back wage claims arising under the FLSA can be settled or compromised by employees. First, under section 216(c), the Secretary of Labor is authorized to supervise payment to employees of unpaid wages owed to them . . . The only other route for compromise of FLSA claims is provided in the context of suits brought directly by employees against their employer under section 216(b) to recover back wages for FLSA violations. When employees bring a private action for back wages under the FLSA, and present to the district court a proposed settlement, the district court may enter a stipulated judgment after scrutinizing the settlement for fairness.

         Thus, unless the parties have the Secretary of Labor supervise the payment of unpaid wages owed or obtain the Court's approval of the settlement agreement, the parties' agreement is unenforceable. Id. Before approving an FLSA settlement, the Court must scrutinize it to determine if it is a fair and reasonable resolution of a bona fide dispute. Id. at 1354-55. If the settlement reflects a reasonable compromise over issues that are actually in dispute, the Court may approve the settlement. Id. at 1354.

         In determining whether the settlement is fair and reasonable, the Court should consider the following factors:

(1) the existence of collusion behind the settlement;
(2) the complexity, expense, and likely duration of the litigation;
(3) the stage of the proceedings and the amount of discovery completed;
(4) the probability of plaintiff's success on the merits;
(5) the range of possible ...

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