United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Fort Myers Division
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION 
MIRANDO UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
matter comes before the Court upon review of the Third
Amended Motion to Approve Settlement Agreement and
Stipulation for Dismissal with Prejudice (Doc.
23) filed on March 5, 2018. The parties
request that the Court approve their settlement of the Fair
Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) claims and dismiss
the case with prejudice. Doc. 23. For the reasons
set forth herein, the Court recommends that the settlement be
APPROVED and Plaintiff's claim be
dismissed with prejudice.
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.
is a Florida for-profit corporation. Doc. 1 at 1.
Plaintiff was employed as a service technician by Defendant.
Id. ¶ 4. Plaintiff alleges Defendant did not
compensate him for the work hours he spent to wait and
receive medical attention for a work-related injury in
violation of the FLSA. Id. ¶¶ 6-7. The
parties have since reached the settlement and filed their
first motion to approve their settlement agreement. Doc.
16. On January 23, 2018, the Court denied without
prejudice this motion because the parties did not provide a
copy of their settlement agreement for the Court's
review. Doc. 17. They then filed an amended motion
to approve their settlement agreement with a copy of the
agreement, which the Court also denied without prejudice
because the agreement contained a waiver of future
employment. Docs. 18, 19 at 2-3. On February 15, 2018, the
parties filed a second amended motion to approve their
settlement agreement, which the Court again denied without
prejudice because the agreement included a confidentiality
provision. Docs. 20, 21 at 3-4. On March 6, 2018, the parties
filed the present motion with a proposed settlement agreement
that did not comply with the Court's prior Orders. Docs.
23, 23-1. Thus, the Court took the motion under advisement
and directed the parties to file the correct copy of their
latest settlement agreement. Doc. 24. Defendant
filed the corrected settlement agreement as instructed, which
is before the Court. Doc. 25-1.
parties address the Court's concerns by stating in their
settlement agreement that the no future employment provision
is “inconsequential” and does not require
additional consideration because neither party desires a
future employment relationship with the other. Doc.
25-1 ¶ 8. Accordingly, the Court recommends the
waiver of future employment provision no longer renders the
settlement agreement unfair. See id.; Cruz v.
Winter Garden Realty, LLC, No. 6:12-cv-1098-Orl-22KRS,
2013 WL 4774617, at *3 (M.D. Fla. Sept. 4, 2013) (approving
the settlement agreement with a waiver of future employment
provision because the plaintiff did not desire
re-employment). Furthermore, the agreement no longer contains
a confidentiality provision. Docs. 23 at 1, 25-1.
proposed settlement agreement, Defendant agrees to pay
Plaintiff a settlement amount totaling $3, 500.00 in
consideration for his underlying claims for unpaid minimum
wages, overtime compensation and liquidated damages. Doc.
25-1 ¶ 2. The parties state they conducted
sufficient investigation and exchanged enough information to
allow their counsel to evaluate the parties' claims and
defenses. Doc. 23 at 4. They further represent they
reached the settlement after Plaintiff received substantial
discovery and calculated his damages. Id. By
entering into the agreement, the parties seek to avoid the
uncertainties of litigation and litigation costs.
Id. Given the settlement terms, the parties state
their agreement is fair and reasonable. Id. at 4-5.
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).
Court notes the settlement agreement contains Plaintiff's
general release of claims. Doc. 25-1 ¶ 6. In
FLSA cases, general releases typically are disfavored because
“a pervasive release in an FLSA settlement confers an
uncompensated, unevaluated, and unfair benefit on the
employer.” Moreno v. Regions Bank, 729
F.Supp.2d 1346, 1352 (M.D. Fla. 2010) (holding that the
proposed FLSA settlement agreement was unfair and precludes
evaluation of the compromise because of the pervasive and
unbounded scope of the release).
Court as well as other courts within this district have
approved general releases in FLSA cases when the plaintiff
receives compensation that is separate and apart from the
benefits to which plaintiff is entitled under the FLSA.
Davis v. JP Sports Co lectibles
Inc., No. 2:16-cv-154-FtM-CM, 2016 WL 7474571, at *2
(M.D. Fla. Dec. 29, 2016) (approving the settlement agreement
with mutual general releases because the plaintiffs received
independent consideration for their individual general
releases); Weldon v. Backwoods Steakhouse, Inc.,
6:14-cv-79-Orl-37TBS, 2014 WL 4385593, at *4 (M.D. Fla. Sept.
4, 2014); Buntin v. Square Foot Management Company,
LLC, 6:14-cv-1394-Orl-37GJK, 2015 WL 3407866, at *2
(M.D. Fla. May 27, 2015); Raynon v. RHA/Fern Park MR.,
Inc., 6:14-cv-1112-Orl-37TBS, 2014 WL 5454395, at *3
(M.D. Fla. Oct. 27, 2014).
Weldon, the court approved a settlement agreement
that contained a general release and non-disparagement
agreement because they were supported by independent
consideration, in addition to the sum the plaintiff would
receive from the FLSA settlement. Weldon, 2014 WL
4385593, at *4. In Buntin, the court approved a
settlement agreement that contained a general release because
it was supported by independent consideration apart from that
owed to him under the FLSA, specifically a mutual general
release and a specific neutral reference by defendant.
Buntin, 2015 WL 3407866, at *3.
Defendant will provide $300.00 in exchange for
Plaintiff's general release of claims. Doc. 25-1
¶ 2. The parties state the general release is important
to ensure that no future litigation would arise based on
events occurring prior to the Court's approval of the
settlement agreement. Doc. 23 at 2. Thus, the Court
recommends Defendant's compensation of $300.00
constitutes sufficient independent ...