United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Fort Myers Division
KALOYAN ANGUELOV, for himself and on behalf of those similarly situated Plaintiff,
EVENT PARKING, INC. and KENNETH BENSON, Defendants.
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION 
MIRANDO, United States Magistrate Judge.
matter comes before the Court upon review of Plaintiffs'
Unopposed Motion to Approve Settlement Agreement and
Stipulation for Dismissal with Prejudice (Doc. 62) filed on
January 16, 2018. The parties request that the Court approve
the parties' settlement of the Fair Labor Standards Act
(“FLSA”) claims and dismiss the case with
prejudice. Doc. 62. For the reasons set forth herein, the
Court recommends that the settlement be
APPROVED and the case be dismissed with
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
1353. The 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
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. “Short of a bench trial, the
Court is generally not in as good a position as the parties
to determine the reasonableness of an FLSA settlement. . . .
If the parties are represented by competent counsel in an
adversary context, the settlement they reach will, almost by
definition, be reasonable.” Bonetti v. Embarq Mgmt.
Co., 715 F.Supp.2d 1222, 1227 (M.D. Fla. 2009).
Nevertheless, the Court must scrutinize the settlement to
determine whether it is a “fair and reasonable
resolution of a bona fide dispute.” Lynn's Food
Store, Inc., 679 F.2d at 1355.
Plaintiff Kaloyan Anguelov filed a Complaint for himself and
on behalf of those similarly situated, seeking recovery of
overtime compensation and unpaid minimum wages under the FLSA
and the Florida Constitution against Defendants Event
Parking, Inc. (“Event Parking”) and Kenneth
Benson. Docs. 1, 44. Event Parking, a Florida corporation,
engages in business in Collier County, Florida. Doc. 44
¶ 5. Benson owned and operated Event Parking and
regularly exercised the authority to hire and fire employees
of the company and determine the employees' work
schedules. Id. ¶ 6.
alleges he worked as a non-exempt valet attendant for
Defendants approximately from 2009 to June 2015. Id.
¶¶ 23, 31. Plaintiff claims during the term of his
employment, he was not paid any overtime premium for all
hours worked in excess of forty (40) hours within a workweek.
Id. ¶ 31. Plaintiff further alleges Defendants
did not compensate him with minimum wages required under the
FLSA and the Florida Constitution. Id. ¶ 34. On
April 3, 2016, Nikolay Korichkov filed a consent to join this
action as an opt-in plaintiff. Doc. 6.
August 1, 2016, the Court permitted Defendants' previous
counsel to withdraw as counsel of record. Doc. 27. Defendants
have not appeared in this matter since their counsel withdrew
as counsel of record. They also have not responded to the
Court's Orders directing Event Parking to retain counsel
and Benson to notify the Court if he wishes to proceed
pro se. Docs. 27, 34, 35. As a result, on December
28, 2016, the undersigned recommended entry of Clerk's
default against Defendants for their failure to comply with
the Court's Orders. Doc. 37. Senior United States
District Judge John E. Steele adopted the undersigned's
Report and Recommendation and directed the Clerk to enter a
default against Defendants. Doc. 38 at 2-3. Judge Steele also
ordered Plaintiff to file a motion for default judgment
within fourteen days of the Order. Id. at 3.
Accordingly, the Clerk entered a default as to Defendants on
January 17, 2017, and Plaintiff filed a motion for default
judgment on January 31, 2017. Docs. 39, 40.
April 14, 2017, Judge Steele denied without prejudice
Plaintiff's motion for default judgment because the
alleged facts did not support that Event Parking is a covered
entity under the FLSA. Doc. 41 at 5. Judge Steele allowed
Plaintiff to amend this deficiency by filing an amended
motion or filing and serving an amended complaint that
contains sufficient factual allegations. Id. at 6.
On May 5, 2017, Plaintiff responded by filing an Amended
Complaint & Demand for Jury Trial (“Amended
Complaint”). Doc. 44. On August 23, 2017, Plaintiff
moved for entry of Clerk's default, which the Court
granted. Docs. 53, 54. The Court also vacated the first entry
of Clerk's default. Doc. 54 at 4. On August 29, 2017, the
Clerk entered a default as to Defendants. Docs. 55.
Subsequently, instead of moving for default judgment,
Plaintiff filed the present motion, seeking the Court's
approval of the parties' settlement agreement. Doc. 62.
proposed settlement agreement, Defendants agree to pay
Anguelov and Korichkov (collectively,
“Plaintiffs”) a settlement amount totaling ten
thousand dollars ($10, 000.00) in consideration of their
underlying claims for unpaid wages and liquidated damages.
Doc. 62-1 ¶ 3(A), (B). The parties state that they
reached the settlement after conducting sufficient discovery
and exchanging enough information to make an informed
decision. Doc. 62 at 6. Plaintiffs represent that although
the negotiated amount of settlement funds is small in
comparison to the total alleged damages, the amount is
reasonable given Defendants' limited financial resources
and the uncertainty and risk of litigation. Id. at
6-7. In light of Defendants' financial circumstances and
the uncertainty of litigation, the parties state that the
settlement amount is a fair and reasonable compromise of
Plaintiffs' FLSA claims. Id. at 7.
on the parties' representations and the policy in this
circuit of promoting settlement of litigation, the Court
recommends the monetary terms of the proposed settlement to
be a fair and reasonable compromise of the dispute. Other
courts in this district similarly have approved settlements
for a compromised amount in light of the strength of the
defenses, the complexity of the case, and the expense and
length of continued litigation. 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, 2011 WL 3166211 (M.D. Fla. July 27,
2011); see also Dorismond v. Wyndham Vacation Ownership,
Inc., No. 6:14-cv-63-Orl-28GJK, 2014 WL 2861483 (M.D.
Fla. June 24, 2014); Helms v. Ctr. Fla. Reg'l
Hosp., No. 6:05-cv-383-Orl-22JGG, 2006 WL 3858491 (M.D.
Fla. Dec. 26, 2006).
addition, the “FLSA requires judicial review of the
reasonableness of counsel's legal fees to assure both
that counsel is compensated adequately and that no conflict
of interest taints the amount the wronged employee recovers
under a settlement agreement.” Silva v.
Miller, 307 F. App'x 349, 351 (11th Cir. 2009).
Pursuant to Bonetti, 715 F.Supp.2d at 1228,
the best way to insure that no conflict [of interest between
an attorney's economic interests and those of his client]
has tainted the settlement is for the parties to reach
agreement as to the plaintiff's recovery before the fees
of the plaintiff's counsel are considered. If these
matters are addressed independently and seriatim, there is no
reason to assume ...