Brasher v. Marion Regional Medical Center et al
MEMORANDUM OPINION. Signed by Magistrate Judge John H England, III on 7/12/2016. (AVC)
2016 Jul-12 PM 01:11
U.S. DISTRICT COURT
N.D. OF ALABAMA
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF ALABAMA
MARION REGIONAL MEDICAL
CENTER, et al.,
Case Number: 6:16-cv-00751-JHE
Plaintiff Tanya Brasher and Defendants Marion Regional Medical Center, North
Mississippi Health Services, North Mississippi Health Systems, and Trilogy Healthcare
Solutions jointly move for approval of their settlement agreement.
seek approval of the terms of their settlement agreement on Brasher’s claims under the Equal
Pay Act. (Id.).
For the reasons set forth below, the Court approves the parties’ settlement.
I. Background Facts
Brasher filed this action on May 6, 2016.
She alleges claims under the Equal
Pay Act provisions (“EPA”) of the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”), 29 U.S.C. § 201, et. seq.
On February 10, 2016, the parties mediated the complaint, among other claims, at the
Birmingham District Office of the United States Equal Opportunity Commission.
(Doc. 13 at 3).
At the mediation, the parties reached a settlement, the terms of which are
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. 15).
contained in the Confidential Full and Complete Release of All Claims and Nondisclosure
Agreement (the “Agreement”).
Under the Agreement, Defendants have agreed to pay Brasher a specified amount to
settle her claims for unequal pay.
The parties have provided the Agreement, (doc. 24,
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 Brasher’s compensation. (Doc. 13 at 5).
The FLSA provides that employers are prohibited from discriminating between
employees on the basis of sex by paying lower wages to employees of one sex than the employer
pays to employees of the opposite sex for equal work.
See 29 U.S.C. § 206(d)(1); id.
It further prohibits retaliation against an employee for exercising rights under the
FLSA. Id. § 215(a)(3).
Because any amounts owed in violation of this provision are deemed
unpaid wages, id. § 206(d)(3), an employer who violates the FLSA is liable to its employee for
both unpaid compensation and for an equal amount in liquidated damages, id. § 216(b).
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 action.
Silva v. 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
Lynn’s Food Stores, Inc. v. U.S. Dept. of Labor, 679 F.2d 1350 (11th Cir.
1982). Before approving an 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 parties have expressed their belief the amount to be paid under the settlement is
“above and beyond the amounts that would be due and owing for the dispute as to equal pay,”
(doc. 13 at 5). The payments take into account the likelihood of success and the amount
Brasher might recover if she prevailed on her claim.
The confidential payments to Brasher to
settle her claims for unpaid compensation and liquidated damages are fair, reasonable, and
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 Brasher’s claim, the
amount of compensation owed to her, and whether she is entitled to liquidated damages.
13 at 3-4).
Both parties acknowledge the settlement is to avoid the expense of contested legal
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
(Id. at 3).
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.
(Id.). Accordingly, this settlement is a reasonable means for all parties to minimize future risks
and litigation costs.
This settlement occurred early in this action and before discovery, but, unlike a minimum
wage claim or unpaid overtime claim, an EPA claim involves a more fact-specific inquiry that
discovery might not resolve in a way consistent to its cost.
Relying on the parties’ own
knowledge, they had sufficient information at this early point to enable them to make an
adequate assessment of the case.
In 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
Additionally, the undersigned has reviewed the proposed payment of attorneys’ fees and
costs and agrees it should be approved because it is reasonable.
See 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.”).
The agreement regarding payment of
Brasher’s counsel’s fees and costs was reached based on hourly fees billed and without regard to
the amount paid to Brasher.
Brasher’s attorneys are compensated adequately for the time and
expense of drafting and filing pleadings and conducting settlement negotiations, and Brasher’s
claims were not compromised by any deduction of attorney’s fees, costs, or expenses.
The Confidential Full and Complete Release of All Claims and Nondisclosure Agreement
is fair and reasonable under the circumstances.
Accordingly, the settlement is due to be
APPROVED and this matter DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE. A separate order will be
DONE this 12th day of July 2016.
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?