WADDELL et al v. HW3 INVESTMENT GROUP et al
ORDER ADOPTING 65 REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION; granting 61 MOTION for Attorney Fees. Signed by JUDGE ALLEN C WINSOR on 11/17/2022. The clerk will enter a judgment that says, "Pursuant to the parties' settlement and t he court's subsequent order on fees, Plaintiff Tyrell Waddell shall recover from Defendants HW3 Investment Group, LLC, and Howard Wolf, damages in the amount of $18,400; Plaintiff Kendreall Finklea shall recover from Defendants HW3 Inves tment Group, LLC, and Howard Wolf, damages in the amount of $20,600; and Plaintiffs Tyrell Waddell and Kendreall Finklea shall together recover from Defendants HW3 Investment Group, LLC, and Howard Wolf $7,589.39 in costs and $99,704 in fees (inclusive of any amounts already paid)." The clerk will then close the file. (kdm)
Case 5:21-cv-00055-AW-MJF Document 67 Filed 11/17/22 Page 1 of 4
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE
NORTHERN DISTRICT OF FLORIDA
PANAMA CITY DIVISION
TYRELL WADDELL and
Case No. 5:21-cv-55-AW-MJF
HW3 INVESTMENT GROUP, LLC, and
ORDER ADOPTING REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
This was an FLSA case, and the parties settled everything except the issue of
fees. ECF No. 53. They agreed that Plaintiffs were entitled to fees, but they could
not agree to the amount. As they tried to settle that issue, the court granted several
extensions of Plaintiffs’ deadline to move for fees. The parties never did agree, and
Plaintiffs moved for approximately $90,000 in fees (beyond the $10,000 already
paid) and approximately $7,500 in costs. ECF No. 61. I referred the fee motion to
the magistrate judge to conduct proceedings and to prepare a report and
recommendation regarding the appropriate amount of an award.
The magistrate judge issued a report and recommendation concluding that
Plaintiffs should be awarded $7,589.39 in costs and $89,704 in fees (in addition to
the $10,000 in fees already paid). ECF No. 65. Defendants filed a “Notice of Appeal”
as to the magistrate judge’s decision. ECF No. 66. Because the magistrate judge
Case 5:21-cv-00055-AW-MJF Document 67 Filed 11/17/22 Page 2 of 4
issued a report and recommendation rather than an order, I will treat the “Notice of
Appeal” as an objection to the report and recommendation. See Fed. R. Civ. P.
72(b)(2). Plaintiffs had an opportunity to respond to the objection, see id., but they
did not do so.
Having carefully considered the report and recommendation, and having
considered de novo the issues raised in Defendants’ objections, I now adopt the
report and recommendation and incorporate it into this order.
Defendants’ objections are all overruled. First Defendants say the amount is
“unreasonable.” But they do not take issue with the reasonableness of the hourly rate
or the number of hours expended. In other words, they make no argument that the
magistrate judge figured the lodestar incorrectly. That leaves them to argue that the
fee should not be 2.5 times higher than the amount recovered. But fees exceeding
recoveries are not terribly unusual, particularly in FLSA cases. And to the extent
Defendants’ argument is really that there was only a limited recovery, I reject it
outright. Plaintiffs’ settlement produced a substantial recovery of approximately
Defendants’ argument that awards like this “undercut any incentive for a
Defendant to enter into settlement discussions with a plaintiff” is a policy argument
not properly considered here. Congress has determined that prevailing FLSA
plaintiffs are entitled to a reasonable fee, 21 U.S.C. § 216(b), and the court will not
Case 5:21-cv-00055-AW-MJF Document 67 Filed 11/17/22 Page 3 of 4
reduce a fee based on any perceived shortcomings of that policy. Regardless, I do
not see how fee awards would discourage settlements. If anything, the opposite
would seem to be true. A defendant who loses after unnecessarily prolonging
litigation will typically owe greater fees than one who settles quickly.
Finally, Defendants say Plaintiffs are not prevailing parties. They did not
make this argument to the magistrate judge, instead saying only that the amount of
fees sought were “unreasonable” and that $20,000 in additional fees would be “[a]
more reasonable and proportionate amount.” ECF No. 63 at 2. I need not consider a
new argument not presented to the magistrate judge. At any rate, Defendants
acknowledged in jointly moving for approval of the settlement that they were
obligated to pay a reasonable fee. And Plaintiffs—having secured judicial approval
of their settlement agreement and having obtained the ensuing judgment—are
prevailing parties. See Wolff v. Royal Am. Mgmt., Inc., 545 Fed. Appx. 791, 795
(11th Cir. 2013).
IT IS NOW ORDERED:
The report and recommendation (ECF No. 65) is adopted and
incorporated into this order.
The motion for attorney’s fees (ECF No. 61) is GRANTED to this
extent: Plaintiffs shall recover $7,589.39 in costs and $89,704 in fees (in addition to
the $10,000 in fees already paid).
Case 5:21-cv-00055-AW-MJF Document 67 Filed 11/17/22 Page 4 of 4
The clerk will enter a judgment that says, “Pursuant to the parties’
settlement and the court’s subsequent order on fees, Plaintiff Tyrell Waddell shall
recover from Defendants HW3 Investment Group, LLC, and Howard Wolf, damages
in the amount of $18,400; Plaintiff Kendreall Finklea shall recover from Defendants
HW3 Investment Group, LLC, and Howard Wolf, damages in the amount of
$20,600; and Plaintiffs Tyrell Waddell and Kendreall Finklea shall together recover
from Defendants HW3 Investment Group, LLC, and Howard Wolf $7,589.39 in
costs and $99,704 in fees (inclusive of any amounts already paid).”
The clerk will then close the file.
SO ORDERED on November 17, 2022.
s/ Allen Winsor
United States District Judge
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