United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Jasper Division
JOHN H. ENGLAND, III, Magistrate Judge.
Plaintiff Robert Kaufman and Defendant Jasper Lumber Company, Inc. ("JLC") jointly move for approval of their settlement agreement. (Doc. 11). The parties seek approval of the terms of their settlement agreement on Kaufman's claim for overtime pay and attorneys' fees and costs to be paid to his counsel. ( Id. ). For the reasons set forth below, the Court approves the parties' settlement and will dismiss Plaintiff's claim with prejudice.
I. Background Facts
Kaufman filed this action on August 29, 2014, alleging a claim for overtime violations under the Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA"), 29 U.S.C. § 201, et. seq. (Doc. 1). On September 29, 2014, JLC answered the complaint, denying Kaufman was entitled to any overtime compensation under the FLSA and asserting various affirmative defenses. (Doc. 8). After exchange of discovery and negotiations, the parties reached a settlement, the terms of which are contained in the "Settlement Agreement and Release as to Lawsuit" (the "Agreement"), (doc. 11 at 6-13). The undersigned has reviewed the Agreement.
Under the Agreement, JLC has agreed to pay Kaufman $12, 634.66, half of which represents all unpaid overtime wages Kaufman has claimed from JLC "in an agreed-upon approximation based on the time recorded by Kaufman" and half of which represents the statutory liquidated damages Kaufman claims. ( Id. at 8). JLC has also agreed to pay $6, 365.34 as attorneys' fees and costs to Kaufman's counsel. ( Id. ) The parties stipulate and agree the terms set forth in the Agreement constitute a fair and reasonable resolution of a bona fide dispute regarding whether Plaintiff is entitled to any further overtime compensation. ( Id. at 10-11).
Subject to specific exceptions, the FLSA provides that employees are entitled to receive overtime pay at one and one-half times their regular rate for all hours worked in excess of forty per week. See 29 U.S.C. § 207(a)(1). An employer who violates the FLSA is liable to its employee for both unpaid overtime compensation and for an equal amount in liquidated damages. 29 U.S.C. § 216(b). In an action to recover unpaid overtime compensation, a court is further required to award a prevailing plaintiff reasonable attorneys' fee and costs. Silva v. Miller, 307 Fed.App'x. 349, 351 (11th Cir. 2009).
Judicial review and approval of an FLSA settlement is necessary to give it final and binding effect. Lynn's Food Stores, Inc. v. U.S. Dept. of Labor, 679 F.2d 1350 (11th Cir. 1982). Before approving a FLSA settlement, a court must scrutinize it to determine if it is "a fair and reasonable resolution of a bona fide dispute." Id. at 1354-55. If the settlement reflects a reasonable compromise over issues that are actually in dispute, the Court may approve the settlement "to promote the policy of encouraging settlement of litigation." Id. at 1354. In determining whether the settlement is fair and reasonable, the court should consider the following factors:
1. the existence of fraud or collusions behind the settlement;
2. the complexity, expense, and likely duration of litigation;
3. the stage of the proceeding and the amount of discovery completed;
4. the probability of success on the merits;
5. the range of possible ...