United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Fort Myers Division
JOSE ALVARADO, on behalf of himself and others similarly situated Plaintiff,
J. MIKE GUITARD PAINTING, INC., Defendant.
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION 
MIRANDO, United States Magistrate Judge.
matter comes before the Court upon review of the parties'
Renewed Joint Motion to Approve Settlement (Doc. 26) filed on
January 8, 2018. The parties provided copies of the Proposed
Settlement Agreements. Docs. 26-1, 26-2. The parties request
that the Court approve the parties' settlement of the
Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) claim and
dismiss the case with prejudice. Doc. 26. For the reasons set
forth herein, the Court recommends that the parties'
motion be granted.
approve the settlement, the Court must determine whether it
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). There are two ways for a
claim under the FLSA to be settled or compromised.
Id. at 1352-53. The first is under 29 U.S.C. §
216(c), providing for the Secretary of Labor to supervise the
payments of unpaid wages owed to employees. Id. at
second is under 29 U.S.C. § 216(b) when an action is
brought by employees against their employer to recover back
wages. Id. When the employees file suit, the
proposed settlement must be presented to the district court
for the district court to review and determine that the
settlement is fair and reasonable. Id. at 1353-54.
Eleventh Circuit has found settlements to be permissible when
the lawsuit is brought by employees under the FLSA for back
wages because the lawsuit
provides some assurance of an adversarial context. The
employees are likely to be represented by an attorney who can
protect their rights under the statute. Thus, when the
parties submit a settlement to the court for approval, the
settlement is more likely to reflect a reasonable compromise
of disputed issues than a mere waiver of statutory rights
brought about by an employer's overreaching. If a
settlement in an employee FLSA suit does reflect a reasonable
compromise over issues, such as FLSA coverage or computation
of back wages, that are actually in dispute; we allow the
district court to approve the settlement in order to promote
the policy of encouraging settlement of litigation.
Id. at 1354.
brought this action against Defendant, alleging that
Defendant did not compensate them with overtime pay in
violation of the FLSA. Doc. 1 ¶¶ 17-20. Defendant is a
corporation engaged in business in Florida. Id.
¶ 4. Plaintiffs Jose Alvarado and Pedro Mejia are
non-exempt employees of Defendant. Id. ¶¶
Complaint alleges that Defendant hired Plaintiffs as painters
and paid Plaintiffs in cash for hours worked in excess of
forty hours in a single work week. Id. ¶¶
16, 19. Plaintiffs allege that Defendant did not pay them at
a rate of one-and-a-half times their regularly hourly wage
for overtime worked and failed to maintain proper time
records. Id. ¶ 20.
December 21, 2017 the parties submitted proposed settlement
agreements (Docs. 24-1, 24-2) to the Court for approval. Doc.
24. The Court subsequently denied without prejudice the
parties' motion to approve the settlement, noting that
the proposed settlement agreements contained pervasive
releases for unrelated claims unsupported by independent
consideration. Doc. 25 at 3-5. The parties now renew their
motion for Court approval and have submitted revised
settlement agreements without the offending provisions.
See Docs. 26, 26-1, 26-2.
revised settlement agreement for Jose Alvarado, Defendant
agrees to issue one check payable to Jose Alvarado in the
amount of six-thousand, five-hundred dollars ($6, 500.00) for
unpaid wages less applicable withholding taxes and one check
payable to Jose Alvarado in the amount of six-thousand,
five-hundred dollars ($6, 500.00) for liquidated damages.
Doc. 26-1 ¶ 1. Similarly, in the revised settlement
agreement for Pedro Mejia, Defendant agrees to issue one
check payable to Pedro Mejia in the amount of four-thousand
dollars ($4, 000.00) for unpaid wages less applicable
withholding taxes and one check payable to Pedro Mejia in the
amount of four-thousand dollars ($4, 000.00) for liquidated
damages. Doc. 26-2 ¶ 1. The pervasive release has been
removed from both settlement agreements. Compare
Docs. 24-1, 24-2 with Docs. 26-1, 26-2.
party was independently represented by counsel. See
docket. The parties represent that they wish to avoid
the uncertainties and expense of litigation. Docs. 26-1 at 1,
26-2 at 1. Plaintiffs represent that they have been paid a
fair settlement for all work performed on Defendant's
behalf, and that the settlement is a reasonable resolution of
a disputed claim. Doc. 26 ¶ 6.
on the Court's review of the settlement agreements, the
parties' representations and the policy in this circuit
of promoting settlement of litigation, the Court recommends
the proposed settlements to be fair and reasonable
compromises of the dispute. Other courts in this district
similarly have approved settlements for a compromised amount
in light of the stipulation of the parties, strength of the
defenses and the expense and length of continued litigation,
as the parties have recognized here. See e.g., Diaz v.
Mattress One, Inc., No. 6:10-CV-1302-ORL-22, 2011 WL
3167248, at *2 (M.D. Fla. July 15, 2011), report and
recommendation adopted, No. 6:10-CV-1302-ORL-22, 2011 WL
3166211 (M.D. Fla. July 27, 2011); see also
Dorismond, 2014 WL 2861483; Helms, 2006 WL
of the settlements, Defendant further agree to pay Plaintiff
Alvarado's attorneys' fees and costs in the amount of
five-thousand, four-hundred dollars ($5, 400.00) and
Plaintiff Mejia's attorneys' fees in the amount of
five-thousand dollars ($5, 000.00). Docs. 26-1 ¶ 1, 26-2
¶ 1. The parties assert that the amount ...