Dodd et al v. Schneider National Carriers Inc
MEMORANDUM OPINION. Signed by Magistrate Judge John H England, III on 9/24/2014. (MSN)
2014 Sep-24 AM 10:57
U.S. DISTRICT COURT
N.D. OF ALABAMA
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF ALABAMA
RANDY DODD, et al.,
SCHNEIDER NATIONAL CARRIERS, INC., )
Case Number: 2:13-cv-01042-JHE
MEMORANDUM OPINION 1
Plaintiffs Randy Dodd, Demetrius Collins, Dedrick Bailey, Marquis Brown, and Reginald
Herron (collectively Plaintiffs), and Defendant Schneider National Carriers, Inc. (“Defendant” or
“Schneider”) jointly move for approval of their settlement agreement. 2
seek approval of the terms of their settlement agreement on Plaintiffs’ claims for overtime pay as
well as approval of separately negotiated attorneys’ fees and costs to be paid to Plaintiffs’
counsel under the settlement.
For the reasons set forth below, the court approves the
parties’ settlement and will dismiss Plaintiffs’ claims with prejudice.
I. Background Facts
Plaintiffs Dodd and Collins filed this action on May 30, 2013. (Doc. 1).
On July 17,
2013, Plaintiffs amended the complaint to add Bailey, Brown, and Herron as plaintiffs.
In accordance with the provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 636(c) and Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 73, the parties have voluntarily consented to have a United States Magistrate Judge
conduct any and all proceedings, including trial and the entry of final judgment. (Doc. 24).
Because the parties have filed this amended motion, document 27 their original motion
for approval of settlement is MOOT. The Clerk will be DIRECTED to TERM document 27 as
Plaintiffs allege claims for unpaid overtime under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”),
29 U.S.C. § 201, et. seq.
On August 5, 2013, Defendant answered the First Amended
Complaint, denying Plaintiffs were entitled to any overtime compensation under the FLSA and
asserting various affirmative defenses. (Doc.15). After exchange of discovery and negotiations,
the parties reached a settlement, the terms of which are contained in the Confidential Settlement
Agreement and General Release (the “Agreement”).
The undersigned has reviewed the
Under the Agreement, Defendant has agreed to pay Plaintiffs certain amounts to settle
Defendant has agreed to pay Dodd, Collins, Bailey, and Brown a specified
amount to settle their claims for certain overtime compensation.
Defendant has also agreed to
pay Herron 100% of his unpaid wage claim and 100% of his liquidated damages claim.
Defendant has also separately agreed to pay an agreed upon amount of attorneys’ fees and costs
to Plaintiffs’ counsel.
The parties have supplied their settlement agreements, (doc. 35, sealed),
which the undersigned has reviewed.
The parties stipulate and agree the terms set forth in the
Agreement constitute a fair and reasonable resolution of a bona fide dispute regarding whether
Plaintiffs are entitled to any further overtime compensation.
Subject to specific exceptions, the FLSA provides that employees are entitled to receive
overtime pay at one and one-half times their regular rate for all hours worked in excess of forty
per week. See 29 U.S.C. § 207(a)(1).
An employer who violates the FLSA is liable to its
employee for both unpaid overtime compensation and for an equal amount in liquidated
29 U.S.C. § 216(b).
In an action to recover unpaid overtime compensation, a court
is further required to award a prevailing plaintiff a reasonable attorney=s fee and costs of the
Silva v. Miller, 307 Fed. Appx. 349, 351 (11th Cir. 2009).
Judicial review and approval of an FLSA settlement is necessary to give it final and
Lynn’s Food Stores, Inc. v. U.S. Dept. of Labor, 679 F.2d 1350 (11th Cir.
Before approving a FLSA settlement, a court must scrutinize it to determine if it is “a
fair and reasonable resolution of a bona fide dispute.” Id.at 1354-55. If the settlement reflects
a reasonable compromise over issues that are actually in dispute, the Court may approve the
settlement “to promote the policy of encouraging settlement of litigation.” Id.at 1354. In
determining whether the settlement is fair and reasonable, the court should consider the following
1. the existence of fraud or collusions behind the settlement;
2. the complexity, expense, and likely duration of litigation;
3. the stage of the proceeding and the amount of discovery completed;
4. the probability of success on the merits;
5. the range of possible recovery; and
6. the opinions of counsel.
See Leverso v. South Trust Bank of Ala. Nat. Assoc., 18 F.3d 1527, 1531 n.6 (11th Cir. 1994). In
reviewing the terms of a proposed settlement, there is a strong presumption in favor of finding it is
fair. Cotton v. Hinton, 559 F.2d 1326, 1331 (5th Cir. 1977). 3
Here, there is no indication of fraud of collusion.
All parties were represented by
counsel and the amount to be paid under the settlement is fair.
The confidential payments to
Plaintiffs to settle their claims for unpaid overtime compensation and liquidated damages are
The decisions of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, as that court
existed on September 30, 1981, handed down prior to the close of business that day, are binding
precedent in the Eleventh Circuit. Bonner v. City of Prichard, Ala., 661 F.2d 1206, 1207 (11th
fair, reasonable, and adequate.
These payments take into account the likelihood of success and
the amounts Plaintiffs might recover if they prevailed on their claims in arbitration.
The complexity, expense, and expected duration of continued litigation also militate in
favor of this settlement.
The parties continue to disagree over the merits of Plaintiffs’ claims
and the amount of overtime compensation owed to them.
Defendant has asserted a defense to
Plaintiffs’ claims under the Motor Carrier Exception, which is potentially dispositive.
parties agree the outcome of the case is uncertain and if this matter were to be litigated to an
award by jury, all parties would be required to engage in costly, protected litigation.
Accordingly, this settlement is a reasonable means for all parties to minimize future risks and
Based on counsel’s representations, there has been sufficient investigation and exchange
of information and documents to enable counsel to reasonably and adequately assess the claims
and defenses at issue.
Specifically, in discovery, the parties exchanged extensive information,
documents, and data, including Plaintiffs’ work time and pay records during the applicable
Before agreeing to the proposed settlement, the parties had sufficient information to
enable them to make an informed analysis and assessment of the case.
The range of possible recovery also shows settlement is reasonable and adequate.
light of the costs of further litigation and the uncertainty and timing of any recovery, the
proposed settlement is a fair and reasonable resolution of a bona fide dispute.
Additionally, the undersigned has reviewed the proposed, separately negotiated payment
of attorneys’ fees and costs and agrees it should be approved because it is reasonable.
Bonetti v. Embarq Mgmt. Co., 715 F. Supp. 2d 1222, 1228 (M.D. Fla. 2009) (If “the plaintiff
attorneys’ fee is agreed upon separately and without regard to the amount paid to Plaintiff, then,
unless the settlement does not appear reasonable on its face or there is reason to believe that
plaintiff’s recovery was adversely affected by the amount of the fees paid to [his] attorney, the
Court [should] approve the settlement without separately considering the reasonableness of the
fee to be paid to plaintiff’s counsel.”).
The agreement regarding payment of Plaintiffs’
counsel’s fees and costs was reached separately and without regard to the amount paid to
Plaintiffs’ claims were not compromised by any deduction of attorney’s fees, costs,
The AConfidential Settlement Agreement and General Release, is fair and reasonable
under the circumstances.
Accordingly, the settlement is due to be APPROVED and Plaintiffs’
claims will be DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE.
A separate order will be entered.
The Clerk is DIRECTED to TERM documents 27 and 37.
DONE this 24th day of September 2014.
JOHN H. ENGLAND, III
UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
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