Croniser et al v. REDBACK Energy Services LLC
ORDER granting 25 Joint MOTION for Order to Approve Settlement under the Fair Labor Standards Act and Dismiss Action; and granting 26 Joint MOTION for Order to Allow the Parties to Redact Portions of the Confidential Settlement Agreement and General Release. This case is dismissed with prejudice. Signed by Magistrate Judge Terence P. Kemp on 2/16/2017. (agm)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF OHIO
Brian Croniser, et al.,
Case No. 2:16-cv-108
REDBACK Energy Services, LLC,
Magistrate Judge Kemp
The parties have filed a joint motion for an approval of
By order dated January 13, 2017, they were directed
to submit additional information to allow the Court to complete
its task of reviewing the fairness of the settlement.
27, 2017, the parties filed their supplemental information.
the following reasons, the Court will approve the settlement
As the Court previously stated:
This case was filed by Brian Croniser, Eric Kemp,
and Travis Roberts under the Fair Labor Standards Act,
29 U.S.C. §216. All three of the plaintiffs were
employed by defendant REDBACK Energy Services LLC.
According to the complaint, over the course of the
preceding two years, Mr. Croniser was employed as a
supervisor, a field supervisor, and a shop foreman; Mr.
Roberts was employed as a supervisor and field
supervisor; and Mr. Kemp was employed as a field
supervisor and dispatch/asset control manager. All
three plaintiffs allege that they were not paid at an
overtime pay rate for all hours worked over forty
hours in each workweek. The complaint alleges that
plaintiffs each worked approximately 80 hours per week.
Further, the complaint states that, in addition to
their annual salaries, REDBACK paid plaintiffs various
other forms of compensation, including day rates,
bonuses, and commissions. According to plaintiffs,
these other forms of compensation were not gifts or
discretionary bonuses but were designed to pay
plaintiff for their services, and to encourage their
retention, superior performance, productivity and work
quality. As such, plaintiffs assert, these amounts
must have been included in their regular pay rates for
purposes of determining the appropriate overtime pay
rate. Plaintiffs contend that they did not qualify for
an exemption for overtime pay and that REDBACK’s
failure to pay them at an overtime rate violated the
FLSA and Ohio law.
The initial pretrial conference was held in this
case on May 3, 2016. The parties then engaged in
discovery and, according to their joint motion (Doc.
25), reached a settlement after what they describe as
“substantial negotiations and upon reviewing hundreds
of pages of records related to Plaintiff’s wage-andhour claims.”
Further, as previously explained, the Court has spoken to
the factors which govern a motion to approve an FLSA settlement.
As the Court said in Gentrup v. Renovo Services, LLC, 2011 WL
2532922, *2 (S.D. Ohio June 24, 2011),
The Sixth Circuit has identified a number of factors to
aid the court in determining whether a class action
settlement is “fair, reasonable and adequate.”
These factors are also considered in determining
whether the settlement of FLSA claims is “fair and
reasonable.”The factors cited by the Circuit include:
(1) the risk of fraud or collusion; (2) the complexity,
expense and likely duration of the litigation; (3) the
amount of discovery completed; (4) the likelihood of
success on the merits; (5) the opinion of class counsel
and representatives; (6) the reaction of absent class
members; and (7) public interest in the settlement.
Additionally, when a settlement agreement
includes an award of attorneys’ fees, such fees must be
Clevenger v. JMC Mechanical, Inc., 2015 WL 12681645
(S.D. Ohio Sept. 25, 2015)(citations omitted).
The parties’ original motion affirmatively stated that the
settlement is the product of bargaining rather than fraud and
collusion; that the litigation involves significant disputes as
to liability; that certain plaintiffs’ probability of success is
“moderate” on the asserted wage claims; that REDBACK “strenuously
disputes” the probability of any success and “strongly believes”
that both payments made to plaintiffs and plaintiffs’ duties
rendered them exempt under certain exemptions; that the bottom of
plaintiffs’ recovery range is no recovery at all; and that
counsel agree that this settlement is reasonable.
In its previous order, the Court noted that the primary
information missing from the parties’ motion was any comparison
of the settlement amount to plaintiffs’ actual overtime claims.
The parties’ supplemental information sets forth the comparison
and explains that the following issues contributed to the
difference between the plaintiffs’ claims and the settlement
First, REDBACK contends that the plaintiffs are exempt
from overtime compensation under either the administrative or
highly compensated employee exemption because they were
supervisors and not merely manual laborers in the field.
Further, the plaintiffs contend that they worked 80 hours per
week but REDBACK contends that the amount was “much, much less.”
Additionally, all parties agree that REDBACK paid bonuses to the
plaintiffs but REDBACK contends that the bonuses were
discretionary and, therefore, not subject to inclusion in
Finally, REDBACK contends that it had
a good faith basis for classifying plaintiffs as exempt and this
precludes an award of liquidated damages.
success on every issue was unlikely, in order to reach a
settlement, the plaintiffs reduced their damages calculation,
taking into account REDBACK’s position.
They reduced their claim
for attorneys’ fees in a similar fashion.
The Court accepts the parties’ representations and finds
that the agreed attorneys’ fees are reasonable.
independently reviewing the terms of the agreement, the Court
finds the agreement to be a fair and reasonable resolution of a
bona fide FLSA dispute.
Consequently, the Court will approve the
Also, in its previous order, the Court directed the parties
to submit for in camera inspection an unredacted copy of the
Having reviewed the settlement agreement,
the Court is satisfied that the redacted information does not
relate to the parties’ FLSA claims.
Consequently, the motion for
leave to file a redacted version of the agreement on the public
record will be granted.
For the reasons set forth above, the motion to approve the
settlement agreement (Doc. 25) is granted.
dismissed with prejudice.
This case is
The motion for leave to file a
redacted version of the settlement agreement on the public record
(Doc. 26) is granted.
The Clerk shall file the unredacted
version under seal.
/s/ Terence P. Kemp
United States Magistrate Judge
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