Curtis v. Myer Companion Care, LLC
Order: The 29 Stipulation of Dismissal is ineffective as filed. The parties are ordered by 9/5/2017 to file a joint motion for approval of their settlement of FLSA claims. Signed by District Judge William H. Steele on 8/22/2017. (tgw)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF ALABAMA
MYER COMPANION CARE, LLC,
CIVIL ACTION 16-0125-WS-N
This matter comes before the Court on the parties’ Joint Stipulation of Dismissal (doc.
29). In that filing, the parties express their agreement to dismiss with prejudice plaintiff’s claims
asserted under the Fair Labor Standards Act (Count II), without affecting plaintiff’s claims of
race discrimination asserted under Title VII and 42 U.S.C. § 1981 (Count I). As grounds for this
Stipulation, the parties cite Rule 41(a)(1)(A)(ii), Fed.R.Civ.P.
The parties are correct that the cited rule generally allows for dismissal of an action via a
stipulation of dismissal signed by all parties, without any showing of fairness or judicial scrutiny.
Significantly, however, that rule is “[s]ubject to … any applicable federal statute.” Rule
41(a)(1)(A). The FLSA is such a statute. Indeed, it is well settled that FLSA settlements are not
like settlements in the overwhelming majority of civil actions brought in federal court, which do
not require judicial approval. See, e.g., Moreno v. Regions Bank, 729 F. Supp.2d 1346, 1348
(M.D. Fla. 2010) (“Settlement of an action under the FLSA stands distinctly outside the practice
common to, and accepted in, other civil actions.”). This is because “Congress made the FLSA’s
provisions mandatory; thus, the provisions are not subject to negotiation or bargaining between
employers and employees.” Lynn’s Food Stores, Inc. v. United States, 679 F.2d 1350, 1352 (11th
Cir. 1982). “Despite this general rule, an employer and an employee may settle a private FLSA
suit under the supervision of the district court” where there is a “bona fide dispute over FLSA
coverage.” Hogan v. Allstate Beverage Co., 821 F. Supp.2d 1274, 1281 (M.D. Ala. 2011). The
mechanics of such a settlement are that “[w]hen employees bring a private action for back wages
under the FLSA, and present to the district court a proposed settlement, the district court may
enter a stipulated judgment after scrutinizing the settlement for fairness.” Lynn’s Food, 679 F.2d
Simply put, then, the parties cannot dismiss Curtis’s FLSA claims by merely filing a Joint
Stipulation that cites Rule 41(a)(1). Rather, they must adhere to the Lynn’s Food protocol by
submitting a joint motion for approval of settlement demonstrating that their resolution of those
FLSA claims comports with the statute’s terms and purposes. See, e.g., Nall v. Mal-Motels, Inc.,
723 F.3d 1304, 1307-08 (11th Cir. 2013) (“[t]he purposes of the FLSA are undermined whenever
an employer is allowed to escape liability for violations of the statute”); Miles v. Ruby Tuesday,
Inc., 799 F. Supp.2d 618, 622-23 (E.D. Va. 2011) (“the reason judicial approval is required for
FLSA settlements is to ensure that a settlement of an FLSA claim does not undermine the
statute’s terms or purposes”). A settlement may be approved upon confirmation that “employees
have received all uncontested wages due and that they have received a fair deal regarding any
additional amount that remains in controversy.” Hogan, 821 F. Supp.2d at 1282. Thus, the
touchstone of the inquiry is whether the proposed settlement “constitutes a fair and reasonable
compromise of a bona fide FLSA dispute.” Crabtree v. Volkert, Inc., 2013 WL 593500, *3 (S.D.
Ala. Feb. 14, 2013).
In light of the foregoing, the parties’ Joint Stipulation of Dismissal is ineffective as filed.
The parties are ordered, on or before September 5, 2017, to file a joint motion for approval of
their settlement of plaintiff’s FLSA claims, supported by exhibits and authorities as appropriate.
DONE and ORDERED this 22nd day of August, 2017.
s/ WILLIAM H. STEELE
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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