Skinner v. Wolf's Towing, LLC et al
ORDER deferring ruling on 10 Motion to Approve Consent Judgment. Signed by District Judge Carlton W. Reeves on 4/7/17. (rg)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF MISSISSIPPI
CAUSE NO. 3:16-CV-00652-CWR-FKB
WOLF’S TOWING, LLC; and JON
This cause comes on the sua sponte motion of this Court to require a hearing prior to
ruling on the pending motion for entry of judgment, allowing private settlement of a dispute
under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”). The Court finds a hearing necessary to determine
the existence and extent of any bona fide dispute(s) as to the number of hours worked or the
amount of compensation due.
Factual and Procedural History
Plaintiff filed his complaint in this action on August 24, 2016. Before a telephonic case
management conference was held, the parties moved this Court to approve their consent
judgement, wherein they stipulate, without description, the existence of bona fide disputes.
“The general rule establishes that FLSA claims . . . cannot be waived.” Bodle v. TXL
Mortg. Corp., 788 F.3d 159, 164 (5th Cir. 2015) (citation omitted). “Nevertheless, we have
excepted, from this general rule, unsupervised settlements that are reached due to a bona fide
FLSA dispute.” Id. at 165 (citing Martin v. Spring Break ’83 Prod., LLC., 688 F.3d 247, 255 (5th
Cir. 2012)). “[P]arties may reach private compromises as to FLSA claims where there is a bona
fide dispute as to the amount of hours worked or compensation due . . . [but] not as a
compromise of guaranteed FLSA substantive rights themselves.” Martin, 688 F.3d at 255
(quotation marks and citation omitted). “If the settlement reflects a reasonable compromise over
the issues, the court may approve it.” Graham v. Jet Specialty, Inc., No. MO-15-CV-135-DAE,
2016 WL 7479956, at *1 (W.D. Tex. May 11, 2016) (quotation marks and citation omitted).
The parties have not furnished the Court with enough information to ensure that this
settlement is in fact a compromise concerning hours worked or compensation due and not a
compromise of substantive rights protected by the FLSA. The list of stipulations attached to the
motion for entry of judgment contains only conclusory language and does not provide a single
factual detail supporting the existence of a dispute. It does not, for instance, state how many
hours either party claims that Skinner worked or why the number of hours he worked cannot be
accurately determined through discovery. Nor does it provide detail supporting a dispute over the
method of calculating plaintiff’s back pay. No facts or discussion from either party that would
allow the Court to determine whether or not the settlement is a reasonable compromise or that a
bona fide dispute exists in the first place are enclosed. It merely contains a naked assertion that
bona fide disputes exist and states that the parties have agreed to settle for an undisclosed
This Court will not approve private settlement of claims brought pursuant to the FLSA
without sufficient information to determine the existence of bona fide disputes concerning the
number of hours worked or the amount of compensation due. Blind approval would, in many
cases, allow the exception providing for private dispute resolution to swallow the general rule
that the substantive rights created by the FLSA cannot be waived.
In the absence of factual detail, any finding by this Court that plaintiff had fairly
bargained away his claim for overtime compensation could never guarantee that his rights under
the FLSA had been or would be vindicated.
The Court defers ruling on the motion for entry of judgement. Docket No. 10. The Court
will hold a hearing for the parties to furnish specific detail concerning the presence and nature of
SO ORDERED, this the 7th day of April, 2017.
s/ Carlton W. Reeves
UNITED STATES DISTRICT 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?