Aguilar et al v. Tacos Grand Central, Inc. et al
ORDER re: 49 Letter, filed by Miguel De La Luz Aguilar. For the foregoing reasons, the parties' motion for settlement approval is GRANTED. The Clerk of Court is directed to terminate any pending motions, vacate all conferences, and close the case. SO ORDERED. (Signed by Judge Analisa Torres on 11/14/2023) (kv)
DATE FILED: 11/14/2023
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK
MIGUEL DE LA LUZ AGUILAR,
21 Civ. 1963 (AT)
TACOS GRAND CENTRAL, INC. (D/B/A
TACOS TIMES SQUARE), CESAR
HERNANDEZ, ELIAS DOE, and RODOLFO
ANALISA TORRES, United States District Judge:
Plaintiff, Miguel De La Luz Aguilar, brings this action against Defendants Tacos Grand
Central, Inc., Cesar Hernandez, Elias Doe, and Rodolfo Hernandez, alleging violations of the Fair
Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) 29 U.S.C. § 201 et seq. and the New York Labor Law (“NYLL”)
§ 190 et seq. for, inter alia, unpaid minimum and overtime wages. ECF No. 1. After reaching a
settlement, the parties sought the Court’s approval of their proposed agreement. ECF No. 29-1.
The Court denied the parties’ motion without prejudice to renewal. See First Order, ECF No. 39.
The parties revised their settlement agreement (the “Revised Settlement”) and renewed their
motion for settlement approval. ECF No. 44. The Court again denied the parties’ motion without
prejudice to renewal. See Second Order, ECF No. 46.
Before the Court is the parties’ second revised settlement agreement (the “Second Revised
Settlement”), ECF No. 49-1, and the parties’ renewed motion for settlement approval (the “Second
Revised Letter”), ECF No. 49. For the reasons stated below, the motion is GRANTED and the
settlement is approved.
The FLSA was enacted “to correct and as rapidly as practicable to eliminate” certain “labor
conditions detrimental to the maintenance of the minimum standard of living necessary for health,
efficiency, and general well-being of workers.” 29 U.S.C. § 202. Significantly, “[r]ecognizing that
there are often great inequalities in bargaining power between employers and employees, 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. U.S. Dep’t of Labor, 679
F.2d 1350, 1352 (11th Cir. 1982) (citing Brooklyn Sav. Bank v. O’Neil, 324 U.S. 697, 706 (1945)).
In accordance with the FLSA’s mandatory provisions, an employer cannot settle claims of
unfair wages without approval of the settlement from the Department of Labor or a United States
district court. See Wolinsky v. Scholastic Inc., 900 F. Supp. 2d 332, 335 (S.D.N.Y. 2012). Where, as
here, the parties seek approval from the district court, they must establish the settlement is “fair and
reasonable.” Persaud v. D & H Ladies Apparel LLC, No. 16 Civ. 5994, 2017 WL 1944154, at *1
(S.D.N.Y. May 8, 2017) (citation omitted). To determine whether a settlement is fair and reasonable,
courts consider “the totality of circumstances, including but not limited to the following factors”:
(1) the plaintiff’s range of possible recovery; (2) the extent to which “the settlement will
enable the parties to avoid anticipated burdens and expenses in establishing their
respective claims and defenses”; (3) the seriousness of the litigation risks faced by the
parties; (4) whether “the settlement agreement is the product of arm’s-length bargaining
between experienced counsel”; and (5) the possibility of fraud or collusion.
Wolinsky, 900 F. Supp. 2d at 335 (quoting Medley v. Am. Cancer Soc’y, No. 10 Civ. 3214, 2010 WL
3000028, at *1 (S.D.N.Y. July 23, 2010)). In addition, courts should not approve agreements that
contain “highly restrictive confidentiality provisions” and “overbroad” releases of claims. Cheeks v.
Freeport Pancake House, Inc., 796 F.3d 199, 206 (2d Cir. 2015) (citation omitted).
Where the proposed settlement provides for payment of attorney’s fees, the Court must
separately assess the reasonableness of the fee award. Lliguichuzhca v. Cinema 60, LLC, 948 F.
Supp. 2d 362, 366 (S.D.N.Y. 2013) (citation omitted). “In an individual FLSA action where the
parties settled on the fee through negotiation, there is ‘a greater range of reasonableness for approving
attorney’s fees.’” Wolinsky, 900 F. Supp. 2d at 336 (quoting Misiewicz v. D’Onofrio Gen.
Contractors Corp., No. 08 Civ. 4377, 2010 WL 2545439, at *5 (E.D.N.Y. May 17, 2010)). Still,
“counsel must submit evidence providing a factual basis for the award,” including “contemporaneous
billing records documenting, for each attorney, the date, the hours expended, and the nature of the
work done.” Id.
The Second Revised Settlement, like the previous settlement proposals, provides Plaintiff with
a recovery of $7,500, inclusive of attorney’s fees and costs. Second Revised Settlement ¶ 1; see also
Second Revised Letter at 2. The Court previously found that this settlement, although “on the low
end of settlements approved in this Circuit,” was fair and reasonable given the significant challenges
Plaintiff would face at trial. Second Order at 3.
The Court, however, rejected the Revised Settlement, finding that its liability release
provision was still too broad. Second Order at 4. The Second Revised Settlement further narrows the
scope of the release clause, which now releases only Defendants—and no entities beyond
Defendants—from liability. Second Revised Settlement ¶ 3. Accordingly, the Court concludes that
Second Revised Settlement’s release clause is “fair and reasonable,” and shall approve the Second
Finally, as to attorney’s fees, the Court previously found that Plaintiff’s counsel’s requested
fees and costs are fair and reasonable. First Order at 3–4. Accordingly, the Court shall grant
Plaintiff’s counsel’s request for attorney’s fees.
For the foregoing reasons, the parties’ motion for settlement approval is GRANTED. The
Clerk of Court is directed to terminate any pending motions, vacate all conferences, and close the
Dated: November 14, 2023
New York, New York
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?