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Feulner v. South Rehabilitation Center, Inc.

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

February 7, 2018

STEPHANIE FEULNER, VERNON HITCHNER and VICTORIA SHUGART, Plaintiffs,
v.
SOUTH REHABILITATION CENTER, INC. and DEDRIX DAKA, Defendants.

          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: PLAINTIFFS' OPPOSED MOTION TO APPROVE SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT (Doc. 62)
FILED: December 7, 2017
THEREON it is RECOMMENDED that the motion be GRANTED.

         I. BACKGROUND.

         Stephanie Feulner, Vernon Hitchner, and Victoria Shugart (collectively, the Plaintiffs) filed this wage related action against Dedrix Daka, who is proceeding pro se, and South Rehabilitation Center, Inc. (SRC).[1] (collectively, the Defendants). Doc. 1. Plaintiffs each alleged, in relevant part, that they performed overtime work for Defendants, but Defendants did not pay them time-and-a-half for all of the overtime hours they worked. Id. at ¶¶ 57, 59, 94, 96, 132, 134. Thus, Plaintiffs each assert a claim against Defendants for unpaid overtime wages in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), 29 U.S.C. § 207. Id. at 19-21. Plaintiffs also asserted various state law claims against Defendants, including common law unpaid wages, breach of oral contract, and unjust enrichment. Id. at 21-27.

         The Clerk entered default against SRC in August 2016. Doc. 19.

         In August 2017, Plaintiffs and Mr. Daka, on behalf of himself and as CEO of SRC, engaged in mediation. Docs. 47; 62-1. The parties settled the case, and executed a “Mediation Term Sheet” (Mediated Agreement) setting forth the following material terms of the settlement: 1) Defendants would pay Ms. Feulner at total of $2, 833.35, Mr. Hitchner a total of $2, 833.35, Ms. Shugart a total of $2, 833.35, and a total of $4, 000.00 in attorney fees and costs; 2) the parties would evenly divide the cost of mediation; 3) the parties would execute a more-comprehensive settlement agreement; and 4) Defendants would provide neutral references in the event a third-party inquires about Plaintiffs' employment with Defendants. Doc. 62-1.

         After mediation, Plaintiffs provided Mr. Daka with a more-comprehensive settlement agreement, but he refused to execute that agreement. Plaintiffs moved to compel Defendants to comply with the Mediated Agreement and execute the settlement agreement drafted by Plaintiffs. Doc. 53. The undersigned held a hearing on the motion to compel and found that Plaintiffs had failed to provide any authority permitting the Court to compel Defendants to execute the settlement agreement drafted by Plaintiffs. See Doc. 61. Thus, the undersigned denied the motion to compel, and directed Plaintiffs to file a motion to approve the Mediated Agreement, if they so choose. Id.

         On December 7, 2017, Plaintiffs filed a Motion to Approve Settlement Agreement (Motion), to which they attached the Mediated Agreement. Docs. 62; 62-1. Plaintiffs argue that the Mediated Agreement constitutes a fair and reasonable resolution of their respective FLSA claims, and request that the Court grant the Motion, approve the Mediated Agreement, and dismiss the case with prejudice. Id. at 3-5. Plaintiffs certified that the Motion is opposed, id. at 5, but Mr. Daka has not filed a response in opposition to the Motion and the time for doing so has passed. Thus, the Motion is unopposed.

         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 FoodStores, 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 ...


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