Kaufman v. Jasper Lumber Company Inc
MEMORANDUM OPINION. Signed by Magistrate Judge John H England, III on 11/10/2014. (AVC)
2014 Nov-10 PM 04:43
U.S. DISTRICT COURT
N.D. OF ALABAMA
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF ALABAMA
JASPER LUMBER COMPANY, INC.,
Case Number: 6:14-cv-01677-JHE
MEMORANDUM OPINION 1
Plaintiff Robert Kaufman and Defendant Jasper Lumber Company, Inc. (“JLC”) jointly
move for approval of their settlement agreement.
The parties seek approval of the
terms of their settlement agreement on Kaufman’s claim for overtime pay and attorneys’ fees and
costs to be paid to his counsel.
For the reasons set forth below, the Court approves the
parties’ settlement and will dismiss Plaintiff’s claim with prejudice.
I. Background Facts
Kaufman filed this action on August 29, 2014, alleging a claim for overtime violations
under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”), 29 U.S.C. § 201, et. seq.
September 29, 2014, JLC answered the complaint, denying Kaufman was entitled to any
overtime compensation under the FLSA and asserting various affirmative defenses.
After exchange of discovery and negotiations, the parties reached a settlement, the terms of
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. 12).
which are contained in the “Settlement Agreement and Release as to Lawsuit” (the
“Agreement”), (doc. 11 at 6-13).
The undersigned has reviewed the Agreement.
Under the Agreement, JLC has agreed to pay Kaufman $12,634.66, half of which
represents all unpaid overtime wages Kaufman has claimed from JLC “in an agreed-upon
approximation based on the time recorded by Kaufman” and half of which represents the
statutory liquidated damages Kaufman claims.
(Id. at 8).
JLC has also agreed to pay
$6,365.34 as attorneys’ fees and costs to Kaufman’s counsel.
(Id.) 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 Plaintiff is 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 reasonable attorneys’ fee and costs.
Miller, 307 Fed. App’x. 349, 351 (11th Cir. 2009).
Judicial review and approval of an FLSA settlement is necessary to give it final and
binding effect. 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). 2
Here, there is no indication of fraud or collusion.
All parties were represented by
counsel and the amount to be paid under the settlement is fair.
The payments to Kaufman to
settle his claims for unpaid overtime compensation and liquidated damages are fair, reasonable,
Kaufman is being paid the full amount of his claim for allegedly unpaid wages
and overtime (based on a mutually agreed-upon estimate founded on Kaufman’s recorded time)
and liquidated damages.
(Doc. 11 at 2, 8).
The complexity, expense, and expected duration of continued litigation also militate in
favor of this settlement.
Even in settlement, JLC does not admit its liability on Kaufman’s
claim, and both parties acknowledge the settlement is to avoid the expense of contested legal
Although the settlement states it pays the full amount of Kaufman’s claim, the
fact it pays an agreed-upon amount based on the evidence indicates the parties continue to
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
disagree over the merits of Kaufman’s claim and the amount of overtime compensation owed
The parties agree the outcome is uncertain and if this matter were to be litigated to an
award by jury, all parties would be required to engage in costly litigation.
settlement is a reasonable means for all parties to minimize future risks and litigation costs.
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, initial disclosures included JLC’s production of Kaufman’s
daily time and scale house records during the applicable period.
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.
Silva, 307 F. App’x at 351 (“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.”).
agreement regarding payment of Kaufman’s counsel’s fees and costs was reached separately
from the agreed-upon amount owed Kaufman under the FLSA’s provisions for unpaid wages and
Kaufman’s attorneys are compensated adequately for the time and expense
of drafting and filing pleadings, reviewing discovery, and conducting settlement negotiations,
and Kaufman’s claim was not compromised by any deduction of attorneys’ fees, costs, or
The “Settlement Agreement and Release as to Lawsuit” is fair and reasonable under the
Accordingly, the settlement is due to be APPROVED, and Kaufman’s claim
will be DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE.
A separate order will be entered.
DONE this 10th day of November 2014.
JOHN H. ENGLAND, III
UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.
Why Is My Information Online?