United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Fort Myers Division
JAVIER A. MOLINA and JUAN F. FLORES, and other similarly situated individuals, Plaintiffs,
LEOPARDI'S ITALIAN RESTAURANT, INC. and ANTHONY J. LEOPARDI, Defendants.
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION 
DOUGLAS N. FRAZIER UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
before the Undersigned is the parties' Joint Motion for
Entry of Order Approving Settlement and Dismissing Case with
Prejudice filed on May 10, 2019. (Doc. 10). The parties move
the Court to approve their settlement of the Fair Labor
Standards Act (“FLSA”) claim and dismiss the case
with prejudice. (Id. at 1). For the reasons stated
below, the Undersigned recommends that the settlement be
approved, dismissing Plaintiffs' claims with prejudice,
but that the Court deny the parties' request for
retention of jurisdiction.
March 20, 2019, Plaintiffs Javier A. Molina and Juan F.
Flores initiated this lawsuit against Defendants seeking
recovery of unpaid overtime wages under the FLSA. (Doc. 1).
Plaintiffs, employed as cooks, worked for Defendants from
approximately August 1, 2018 to December 23, 2018.
(Id. ¶¶ 10-11). Plaintiffs claim
Defendants failed to maintain proper time records and
willfully violated the FLSA by failing to properly compensate
them for overtime hours. (See Id. ¶¶
14-17). Now, the parties move the Court to approve the
settlement and dismiss the case with prejudice. (Docs. 10,
approving an FLSA settlement, 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).
There are two ways for an FLSA claim 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's
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.
(Id. at 1354). The Eleventh Circuit has held that:
Settlements may be permissible in the context of a suit
brought by employees under the FLSA for back wages because
initiation of the action by the employees 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.
Lynn's Food Stores, Inc. v. United States, 679
F.2d at 1350, 1354 (11th Cir. 1982).
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, 679 F.2d at
the joint motion states that a bona fide dispute exists
between the parties as to the number of hours worked and
whether Plaintiffs qualified for exemption under the FLSA.
(Doc. 10 at 5-6). The parties have agreed to award each
Plaintiff $12, 000. (Doc. 10-1 at 3). This amount includes
$6, 000 of unpaid wages and $6, 000 of liquidated damages.
(Id. at 5; see Doc. 10-1). The settlement
agreement provides that in exchange for the settlement
proceeds, Plaintiffs agree to dismiss the case and release
Defendants of “all claims Plaintiffs have or might have
under FLSA against Defendants.” (Doc. 10-1 at 2). The
parties believe this is a fair and reasonable compromise of
Plaintiffs' FLSA claims. (Doc. 10 at 6).
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).
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).
Pursuant to Bonetti:
The best way to insure that no conflict [of interest between
an attorney's economic interests and those of his client]
has tainted the settlement is for the parties to reach
agreement as to the plaintiff's recovery before the fees
of the plaintiff's counsel are considered. If these
matters are addressed independently and seriatim, there is no
reason to assume that the lawyer's fee has influenced the
reasonableness of the plaintiff's settlement.
Bonetti v. Embarq Mgmt. Co., 715 F.Supp.2d at 1222,
1228 (M.D. Fla. 2009).
the parties reached settlement and agreed upon the costs
separately and without regard to the amount paid to
Plaintiffs. (Doc. 10 at 6). Defendants agree to pay
Plaintiffs' attorney's fees and costs in the amount
of $4, 250.00. (Id.). The Court recommends this
amount is reasonable and that the settlement agreement as
proposed is a fair and reasonable agreement.
the parties request that the Court retain jurisdiction to
enforce the terms of the settlement agreement. (Doc. 10 at
7-8). Courts in this District routinely deny requests to
retain jurisdiction to enforce terms of an FLSA settlement.
See, e.g, Correa v. Goldblatt, No.
6:10-cv-1656-Orl-28DAB, 2011 WL 4596224, at *3 (M.D. Fla.
Sept. 9, 2011), report and recommendation adopted,
2011 WL 4704196 (M.D. Fla. Oct. 4, 2011); Smither v.
Dolphin Pools of SW Fla., Inc., No.
2:11-cv-65-FtM-29DNF, 2011 WL 2565494, at *2 (M.D. Fla. June
9, 2011), report and recommendation adopted, 2011 WL
2580459 (M.D. Fla. June 29, 2011). The parties failed to cite
any case law in support of their request that the Court
retain jurisdiction, (see Doc. 18), and the
undersigned finds no compelling reason for the Court to
retain jurisdiction to enforce the terms of the settlement
agreement. See King v. Wells Fargo Home Mortg., No.
2:08-cv-307-FtM-29SPC, 2009 WL 2370640, at *1 (M.D. Fla. July
30, 2009) (approving FLSA settlement agreement but denying
parties' request to retain jurisdiction where the
agreement did not ...