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Kleeklamp v. Home Performance Alliance, Inc.

United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Fort Myers Division

June 6, 2018

MARIA KLEEKLAMP, on behalf of herself and others similarly situated, Plaintiff,
v.
HOME PERFORMANCE ALLIANCE, INC., Defendant.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          MAC R. MCCOY UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Pending before the Court is the Notice of Settlement and Joint Motion to Approve Settlement and for Dismissal with Prejudice and Settlement Agreement and Release (Doc. 28) filed on June 4, 2018. Defendant and Plaintiffs - including Maria Kleekamp and five other individuals who have opted in Storm Martin, Kaitlin Greene, Julie Galla, Hallie Grooms, and Casey Matthews - jointly request that the Court approve the parties' settlement of their Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) issues. (Id. at 4).

         I. Legal Standards

         To approve the settlement of an FLSA claim, the Court must determine whether the settlement 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); 29 U.S.C. § 216. There are two ways for a claim under the FLSA to be settled or compromised. Id. at 1352-53. The first, under 29 U.S.C. § 216(c), provides for the Secretary of Labor to supervise payments of unpaid wages owed to employees. Id. at 1353. The second way, under 29 U.S.C. § 216(b), is by a lawsuit brought by employees against their employer to recover back wages. Id. When employees file suit, the proposed settlement must be presented to the District Court for its review and determination that the settlement is fair and reasonable. Id. at 1353-54.

         The 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.

         II. Discussion

         A. Settlement Sum

         In this case, Plaintiffs allege that Defendant failed to compensate them properly. (Doc. 28 at 4). Defendant denies liability. (See id.). Additionally the parties contest:

whether an FLSA exemption applied to Plaintiffs; the number of overtime hours Plaintiffs worked without proper pay, if any; the number of hours Plaintiffs worked, if any, without payment of at least minimum wage; the number of Plaintiffs' unpaid work hours, if any, that were compensable work hours; and whether liquidated damages are warranted here and, if so, the amount of such damages.

(Id.). Based on these contentions, the Undersigned finds that a bona fide dispute exists between the parties.

         Even though a bona fide dispute exists between the parties, the parties decided to settle this matter “given the disputed issues and the risks, time requirements, and unknown case duration inherent to litigation.” (Id.). The parties believe that their settlement is a fair and reasonable compromise of the disputed claim. (Id.).

         Plaintiffs agreed to a settlement to resolve their claims. (Doc. 28 at 2, 9). Under the terms of the settlement, Maria Kleekamp will receive $1, 300.00. (Id. at 9). Storm Martin is due to receive $600.00. (Id. at 10). Kaitlin Greene will receive $1, 200.00. (Id.). Julie Galla will receive $1, 200.00. (Id.). Hallie Grooms is due $300.00. (Id.). Finally, Casey Matthews will receive $1, 200.00. (Id. at 11). Half of each ...


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