Loden et al v. Bimbo Bakeries USA, Inc.
Order re: 13 Joint MOTION to Dismiss. All Claims in this action, other than the FLSA claims, are dismissed with prejudice. A proposed stipulated judgment regarding the FLSA claims is due by 5/3/2017. Signed by District Judge William H. Steele on 4/26/2017. (tgw)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF ALABAMA
LEHMAN LODEN, etc., et al.,
BIMBO BAKERIES USA, INC.,
)CIVIL ACTION 16-0634-WS-MU
The seven plaintiffs filed a complaint asserting claims under the FLSA and
under state law. (Doc. 1). They have now filed a joint stipulation “that Plaintiffs’
claims in the above-captioned action are dismissed with prejudice” pursuant to
Rule 41(a)(1)(A)(ii). (Doc. 13). The stipulation asserts that the plaintiffs
“stipulate and agree that they have been properly classified as independent
contractors and, accordingly, have withdrawn their FLSA claims.” (Id. at 1).
The plaintiffs, however, have done no such thing. While a claim can be
“withdrawn” by filing an amended complaint omitting the claim,1 the plaintiffs
have not filed an amended complaint. Moreover, the parties stipulate to the
dismissal of “Plaintiffs’ claims in the above-captioned action,” which by its terms
extends to the FLSA claims. Because the FLSA claims thus remain in the case,
they can be resolved only in accordance with governing law.
As the Court previously advised the parties, (Doc. 12 at 1-2), “[o]ther than
a section 216(c) payment supervised by the Department of Labor, there is only one
context in which compromises of FLSA back wage or liquidated damage claims
may be allowed: a stipulated judgment entered by a court which has determined
that a settlement proposed by an employer and employees, in a suit brought by the
E.g., Alves v. Board of Regents, 804 F.3d 1149, 1158 n.3 (11th Cir. 2015).
employees under the FLSA, is a fair and reasonable resolution of a bona fide
dispute over FLSA provisions.” Lynn’s Food Stores v. United States, 679 F.2d
1350, 1355 (11th Cir. 1982); accord Nall v. Mal-Motels, Inc., 723 F.3d 1304,
1307-08 (11th Cir. 2013) (under Lynn’s, which “applies to settlements between
former employees and employers” as well as current employees, an FLSA
settlement not made under the supervision of the Secretary of Labor “is valid only
if the district court entered a ‘stipulated judgment’ approving it”).
Employing the unorthodox medium of a letter from counsel addressed to
the undersigned and attached as an exhibit to the stipulation, (Doc. 13-1), the
defendant explains in some detail why the plaintiffs’ FLSA claims “would fail as a
matter of law and fact.” (Id. at 6). The reasons are basically that the plaintiffs are
independent contractors rather than employees and that, even if they were
employees, they were subject to two exemptions. (Id. at 2-5). The defendant
continues that it “did not require Plaintiffs to release their FLSA claims and,
therefore, paid no consideration for a release of FLSA claims.” (Id. at 6).2 The
defendant concludes that “there is no FLSA settlement to approve.” (Id.).
The Court previously advised the parties that it expected them to
demonstrate that Lynn’s does not apply to the circumstances of this case. (Doc. 11
at 2). The parties, however, offer no case law in support of their position, and the
opinions reviewed by the Court indicate that Lynn’s may apply in the present
context. A sister court has rejected the contention that, “because Plaintiff would
receive no compensation in return for dismissing her FLSA claim with prejudice,
there is no settlement for the Court to approve.” Perez-Nunez v. North Broward
Hospital District, 609 F. Supp. 2d 1319, 1320 (S.D. Fla. 2009).
The Court therefore assumes for present purposes that the parties are
required to obtain judicial approval of the dismissal with prejudice of the
The defendant may not have required a release, but it is obtaining a dismissal
with prejudice of the FLSA claims, which serves essentially the same function; both bar
the re-filing of the FLSA claims.
plaintiffs’ FLSA claims without any compensation therefor. “Given a particularly
dubious FLSA claim, it may be possible that a plaintiff’s voluntary dismissal with
prejudice in return for nothing is a fair and reasonable resolution of the dispute.”
Perez-Nunez, 609 F. Supp. 2d at 1320. The defendant’s letter brief satisfies the
Court that this is such a case. Cf. Parker v. Chuck Stevens Chevrolet, Inc., 2013
WL 3818886 at *2 (S.D. Ala. 2013) (approving, pursuant to Lynn’s, the parties’
joint motion to dismiss the plaintiff’s FLSA claim without compensation). The
Court also notes that the concerns articulated in Crabtree v. Volkert, Inc., 2013
WL 593500 (S.D. Ala. 2013), are absent here.
Pursuant to the parties’ stipulation, all claims in this action, other than the
FLSA claims, are dismissed with prejudice. The parties are ordered to file, on
or before May 3, 2017, a proposed stipulated judgment regarding the FLSA
DONE and ORDERED this 26th day of April, 2017.
s/ WILLIAM H. STEELE
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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