United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Orlando Division
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
R. SPAULDING, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT:
cause came on for consideration without oral argument on the
following motion filed herein:
MOTION FOR SETTLEMENT APPROVAL (Doc. No.
Jill Abercrombie, filed a complaint against Defendant,
Pagano's Bros., Inc., alleging that Defendant failed to
pay all of her overtime wages in violation of the Fair Labor
Standards Act (“FLSA”), 29 U.S.C. § 201,
et seq. Doc. No. 1. In this action, she seeks unpaid
overtime wages and liquidated damages. Id. at 4.
14, 2018—before Defendant appeared in the
action—Plaintiff filed a notice of voluntary dismissal
with prejudice. Doc. No. 8. The Court then required Plaintiff
to advise the Court whether there had been a settlement in
this matter. Doc. No. 9. In response, Plaintiff filed a
notice explaining that the parties had reached a settlement
and that she had received all of the overtime and liquidated
damages to which she had claimed she was entitled. Thus, she
represented that there had been no compromise of her claims.
Doc. No. 11. The notice was signed only by Plaintiff's
attorney and does not appear to have been served on
Defendant's attorney. She attached a copy of a document
titled “Settlement and Release Agreement, ” which
is signed only by Plaintiff. The document does not appear to
have included an area for Defendant to sign. Doc. No. 11-1.
Plaintiff also attached a letter from Defendant's
attorney, Michael J. Politis, enclosing a check for the full
settlement amount ($4, 000.00). The letter states,
“Enclosed herein please find an original settlement
draft made payable to your Trust Account in the amount of $4,
000.00, representing full and final satisfaction of any and
all claims. I thank you for the general release signed by
your client and I have provided a copy of same to my client
as well. I thank you for working with me in resolving this
matter in an amicable fashion.” Id.
Lynn's Food, the United States Court of Appeals
for the Eleventh Circuit explained that claims for
compensation under the FLSA may only be settled or
compromised when the Department of Labor supervises the
payment of back wages or when the district court enters a
stipulated judgment “after scrutinizing the settlement
for fairness.” 679 F.2d at 1353. Under Lynn's
Food, a court may only enter an order approving a
settlement if it finds that the settlement is fair and
reasonable, Dees v. Hydradry, Inc., 706 F.Supp.2d
1227, 1240 (M.D. Fla. 2010), and that the ensuing judgment is
stipulated, Nall v. Mal Motels, Inc., 723 F.3d 1304,
1308 (11th Cir. 2013).
settlement agreement includes an amount to be used to pay
attorney's fees and costs, 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 Fed.Appx.
349, 351 (11th Cir. 2009) (per curiam). If the Court
finds that the payment to the attorney is not reasonable, the
Court must consider whether a plaintiff's recovery might
have been greater if the parties had reduced the
attorney's fees to a reasonable amount. See Id.
at 351-52; see also Bonetti v. Embarq Mgmt. Co., 715
F.Supp.2d 1222, 1228 (M.D. Fla. 2009) (finding that the Court
must consider the reasonableness of attorney's fees when
a “settlement does not appear reasonable on its face or
there is reason to believe that the plaintiff's recovery
was adversely affected by the amount of fees paid to his
Whether the Settlement Agreement is a Compromise.
the terms of the parties' settlement agreement, Defendant
agreed to pay Plaintiff $4, 000.00 to settle this lawsuit.
Doc. No. 11-1. Although the settlement agreement does not so
state, Plaintiff's attorney represents that $925.00 of
that amount represents payment for unpaid overtime, $925.00
represents payment for liquidated damages, and $2, 150.00
represents attorney's fees. Doc. No. 11, at 1. The
parties settled Plaintiff's claims before she filed
answers to the Court's FLSA Interrogatories and provided
the Court with information about the value of her claim.
However, Plaintiff's counsel represents that Plaintiff
claimed $925.00 in unpaid overtime compensation and an equal
amount in liquidated damages. Id. Thus,
Plaintiff's counsel represents that ...