United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Fort Myers Division
PATRICK J. GABORIK, Plaintiff,
KATHERINE TAYLOR-RAY, NAPLES TRUCK RENTAL LLC, AA TRUCK RENTAL LLC and LEHIGH ACRES TRUCK RENTAL LLC, Defendants.
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
MCCOY UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
the Court is the parties' Joint Motion for Approval of
Settlement Agreement, filed on October 9, 2019. (Doc. 53).
The parties previously filed their Joint Motion for Approval
of Settlement Agreement on September 24, 2019. (Doc. 51).
Upon preliminary review, it was apparent that only Defendants
had executed the settlement agreement in the first filing.
(Doc. 51-1 at 5-6). Therefore, the Undersigned ordered the
parties to supplement their Joint Motion with a copy of the
fully executed settlement agreement. (Doc. 52). Accordingly,
the parties filed their fully executed Joint Motion for
Approval of Settlement Agreement signed by all parties. (Doc.
53-1 at 5-6). Plaintiff Patrick Gaborik and Defendants
Katherine Taylor-Ray, Naples Truck Rental, LLC, AA Truck
Rental, LLC, and Lehigh Acres Truck Rental, LLC request the
Court approve the terms of their proposed settlement of the
Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) claims in this
case. The proposed Settlement Agreement is attached to the
parties' Motion. (Doc. 53-1). After careful review of the
parties' Motion and the court file, the Undersigned
respectfully RECOMMENDS that the presiding
United States District Judge APPROVE the
approve the settlement of FLSA claims, 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
Stores, 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 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.
Eleventh Circuit has found settlements to be permissible when
employees bring a lawsuit under the FLSA for back wages.
Id. at 1354. The Eleventh Circuit held:
[A 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.
OF THE ALLEGATIONS AND ISSUES
summary of the allegations and issues in this case is
helpful. Defendant Ms. Ray-Taylor managed Lehigh Acres Truck
Rental (“Lehigh Acres”), AA Truck Rental
(“AA”), and Naples Truck Rental
(“Naples”). (Doc. 19 at 2). Plaintiff
“worked at all three locations when necessary.”
(Doc. 15 at 5). Plaintiff's Amended Complaint alleges
“Defendant[s] willfully and maliciously failed to pay
Plaintiff his lawfully earned overtime wages.”
(Id. at 6).
parties dispute Plaintiff's employment status and whether
he is exempt from the FLSA's overtime requirements.
Plaintiff argues he “sometimes had the title of manager
at the Naples location” but he “did not
participate in and management [sic] decisions, and was only
given that title to avoid paying overtime wages.”
(Id. at 7). While the Complaint fails to set forth
the exact number of hours Defendants allegedly owe Plaintiff
for overtime wages, “in an effort to settle this matter
Plaintiff's counsel delivered to Defendants a demand
letter requesting $50, 000.00 in unpaid wages and
attorney's fees.” (Doc. 15 at 8). Defendants deny
these allegations and assert several Affirmative Defenses.
(Doc. 19). The Undersigned now turns to the proposed
OF THE PROPOSED SETTLEMENT
There Is a Bona Fide Dispute.
threshold matter, the Undersigned finds that a bona fide
dispute exists between the parties. The Joint Motion
Plaintiff was the only employee at the site, and therefore
ran the site on his own. Plaintiff was, at all times, paid a
salary and treated as an exempt employee. Plaintiff alleges
that he was not an exempt employee, and that he was therefore
entitled to ...