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Hinkle v. Dollar Tree Stores, Inc.

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

January 2, 2018

JESSE HINKLE, Plaintiff,
v.
DOLLAR TREE STORES, INC., Defendant.

          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: JOINT MOTION FOR APPROVAL OF SETTLEMENT AND DISMISSAL WITH PREJUDICE (Doc. 20)

         FILED: November 20, 2017

         THEREON it is RECOMMENDED that the motion be GRANTED in part and DENIED in part.

         I. BACKGROUND.

         Plaintiff filed this action against Defendant in July 2016. Doc. 2. Plaintiff alleged that he worked for Defendant as an assistant manager between January 2010 and the filing of the Complaint, earning $11.15 per hour. Id. at ¶¶ 7-8. Plaintiff alleged that Defendant manipulated Plaintiff's time records by reducing the number of hours he actually worked so that he was not paid for all the time he worked, including overtime. Id. at ¶¶ 9-10, 18, 26-27. Thus, Plaintiff asserted the following claims against Defendant: Count I - breach of contract; Count II - unpaid overtime wages in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), 29 U.S.C. § 207. Id. at 3-5.

         The Court subsequently entered an order compelling the parties to proceed with arbitration, and administratively closed the case. Doc. 15.[1] The parties reached a settlement in September 2017. Doc. 18.

         The parties filed a Joint Motion for Approval of Settlement and Dismissal with Prejudice (Motion) and their settlement agreement (Agreement). Docs. 20; 20-1. The Agreement provides that Plaintiff will receive $1, 800.00 in unpaid wages, and $1, 800.00 in liquidated damages, and $200.00 as consideration for other matters, such as the general release. Doc. 20-1 at 2-3. The Agreement also provides that Plaintiff will receive $5, 200.00 in attorney fees and costs. Id. at 3. The parties argue that the Agreement represents a fair and reasonable resolution of Plaintiff s FLSA claim, and request that the Court grant the Motion, dismiss the Complaint with prejudice, and retain jurisdiction to enforce the terms of the settlement. Id. at 7.

         II. LAW.

         The settlement of a claim for unpaid minimum or overtime wages under the FLSA may become enforceable by obtaining the Court's approval of the settlement agreement.[2] Lynn's Food Stores, Inc. v. U.S. Dept of Labor, 679 F.2d 1350, 1352-53 (11th Cir. 1982). The Court, before giving its approval, must scrutinize the settlement agreement to determine whether it is a fair and reasonable resolution of a bona fide dispute of plaintiff s FLSA claims. See Id. at 1353-55. In doing so, the Court should consider the following nonexclusive factors: . The existence of collusion behind the settlement.

• The complexity, expense, and likely duration of the litigation.
• The state of the proceedings and the amount of ...

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