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Correa v. House of Glass, Inc.

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

January 24, 2018

GIOVANNI CORREA, Plaintiff,
v.
HOUSE OF GLASS, INC. and LEON CRUZ, Defendants.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          THOMAS B. SMITH UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         Pending before the Court is the parties' Second Renewed Joint Motion to Approve FLSA Settlement and for Dismissal of All Claims with Prejudice (Doc 41). After due consideration I respectfully recommend that the motion be granted.

         I. Background

         This is a Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”), 29 U.S.C. § 201 et seq. case. Plaintiff Giovanni Correa claims that from May 2015 through November 2016, he was employed by Defendant House of Glass, Inc., as an installer, earning $12 per hour (Doc. 24 at 1). Defendant Leon Cruz was one of Plaintiff's immediate supervisors (Id.). Although his schedule varied, Plaintiff says he ordinarily began work at 7:00 a.m., and continued until the job was completed (Id.). He asserts that he worked approximately 10 hours of overtime per week for which he was paid time but not the additional one-half, i.e., an additional $6 per hour (Id., at 2). Plaintiff's estimate, prior to the completion of discovery, was that he is owed $4, 680 in additional compensation, not including liquidated damages or attorney's fees and costs (Id.).

         Defendants deny liability and affirmatively allege that Plaintiff was an independent contractor (Doc. 19 at 5). They say Plaintiff was offered jobs, provided his own labor and tools, and his profit was dependent on his ability to efficiently complete projects to their satisfaction (Id.). Defendants affirmatively allege that the FLSA does not apply because their revenue during the relevant time period was less than $500, 000 per year and they were not engaged in commerce, or the production of goods for commerce (Id.). Defendants also contend that Plaintiff's claim for liquidated damages is barred pursuant to 29 U.S.C. § 260 because they acted in good faith, with reason to believe their actions did not violate the FLSA (Id.).

         On October 16, 2017, the parties submitted their proposed settlement agreement to the Court for approval (Doc. 30-1). The agreement provided for the payment of $2, 000 in settlement of Plaintiff's FLSA claim and an additional $500 in return for a general release and mutual non-disparagement and confidentiality provisions (Id., at 2-3). In addition, Defendants agreed to pay Plaintiff's lawyer $2, 500 in attorney's fees and costs (Id., at 3). After reviewing the parties' agreement, I recommended that it be rejected for reasons that included the lack of payment of any liquidated damages to Plaintiff (Doc. 31).

         Before the district judge acted on my report and recommendation, the parties submitted a revised settlement agreement for the Court's consideration (Doc. 36-1). In the amended agreement, the amounts payable to Plaintiff and his lawyer did not change (Id., at 2-3). But, the parties stated that the $2, 500 to be paid to Plaintiff was “in resolution for Plaintiff's unpaid overtime claim under the FLSA, including any claims for liquidated damages under the FLSA.” (Id., at 3). Once again, I recommended that the Court reject the parties' amended settlement agreement, and I criticized their handling of the liquidated damages issue (Doc. 37).

         The parties have now submitted their second amended settlement agreement for the Court's consideration (Doc. 41-1). The agreement provides for the following installment payments:

(a) Within 10 calendar days of Court approval, Defendants will pay Plaintiff $1, 250 of which half is allocated to wages and half is allocated to liquidated damages.
(b) Within 30 calendar days of the first payment, Defendants will pay Plaintiff $1, 250 of which half is allocated to wages and half is allocated to liquidated damages.
(c) Within 30 calendar days of the second payment, Defendants will pay Plaintiff's lawyers $500.
(d) Within 30 calendar days of the third payment, Defendants will pay Plaintiff's lawyers $500.
(e) Within 30 calendar days of the fourth payment, Defendants will pay ...

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