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Foster v. Metal Essence, Inc.

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

May 17, 2019

MELODY FOSTER, Plaintiff,
v.
METAL ESSENCE, INC., Defendant.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          DANIEL C. IRICK UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         This cause comes before the Court for consideration without oral argument on the following motion:

         MOTION: SECOND AMENDED JOINT MOTION FOR APPROVAL OF SETTLEMENT (Doc. 39)

         FILED: February 20, 2019

         THEREON it is RECOMMENDED that the motion be GRANTED.

         I. Background

         Plaintiff filed this action pursuant to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) for unpaid overtime compensation. Doc. 1. The parties settled the case after Defendant filed its Answer and Plaintiff filed her answers to the Court's FLSA Interrogatories. Docs. 16; 21. The parties subsequently filed an Amended Joint Motion for Approval of Settlement, to which the settlement agreement was attached. Docs. 36; 36-1 (the Agreement). By Order dated April 11, 2019, the undersigned denied the motion without prejudice and directed the parties to file a renewed motion for settlement approval consistent with the Order. Doc. 38. The motion was denied because the parties referenced a separate “Confidentiality Agreement” that included a general release of “non-FLSA potential claims, ” but the Court was unaware of the exact nature of the agreement and the consideration paid to Plaintiff in return for the release. Id. Pending before the Court is the parties' Second Amended Joint Motion for Approval of Settlement Agreement (the Motion). Doc. 39. Instead of reattaching the Agreement, the parties refer the Court to the document previously filed at Doc. 36-1 (the Agreement). Doc. 39 at 2.

         II. Discussion

         The parties seek review to determine whether the Agreement is a “fair and reasonable resolution of a bona fide dispute over Plaintiff's claim. In Lynn's Food Stores, Inc. v. U.S. Dep't of Labor, 679 F.2d 1350, 1352-53 (11th Cir. 1982), the Eleventh Circuit addressed the means by which an FLSA settlement may become final and enforceable:

         There are only two ways in which back wage claims arising under the FLSA can be settled or compromised by employees. First, under section 216(c), the Secretary of Labor is authorized to supervise payment to employees of unpaid wages owed to them. . . . The only other route for compromise of FLSA claims is provided in the context of suits brought directly by employees against their employer and under section 216(b) to recover back wages for FLSA violations. When employees bring a private action or back wages under the FLSA, and present to the district court a proposed settlement, the district court may enter a stipulated judgment after scrutinizing the settlement for fairness.

         Since the parties have submitted a motion, the Court must scrutinize the attached Agreement to determine if it is a fair and reasonable resolution of a bona fide dispute. See id. at 1354-55. In determining whether the Agreement is fair and reasonable, the Court should consider the following factors:

(1) The existence of collusion behind the settlement;
(2) The complexity, expense, and likely duration of the litigation;
(3) The state of the proceedings and the amount of discovery ...

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