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Patel v. Shah

United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Northeastern Division

February 7, 2018

JIGAR PATEL, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
AMISH SHAH, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          MADELINE HUGHES HAIKALA UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         On May 23, 2017, consistent with the plaintiffs' acceptance of the defendants' offers of judgment and the Court's approval of the offers of judgment as a fair and reasonable settlement of the FLSA claims in this action, the Court entered judgment against the defendants and in favor of the plaintiffs in varying amounts. (Doc. 42). The plaintiffs then filed a motion for an award of attorney's fees in the amount of $33, 803.50 and costs in the amount of $888.06. (Doc. 43). The defendants do not oppose the plaintiffs' request for $888.06 in costs. The defendants contend that the plaintiffs are not entitled to a fee award because the offers of judgment were silent with respect to attorney's fees. Alternatively, the defendants argue that the plaintiffs' requested attorney fee award is too high. (Doc. 48).

         For the reasons stated below, the Court awards the plaintiffs costs in the amount of $888.06. The Court finds that the plaintiffs are entitled to a fee award. The Court directs the parties to mediate their dispute with respect to the amount of the fee award.

         BACKGROUND

         Plaintiffs Jigar Patel, Palak Patel, Kanu Patel, and Veena Patel filed this action on October 30, 2015. (Doc. 1).[1] In their amended complaint, the plaintiffs alleged that their former employers, defendants Ashish Shah, Anthony Sharifi, Sharifi, Inc., and Eat Fresh, Inc., violated the Fair Labor Standards Act, 29 U.S.C. §§ 201 et seq. (Doc. 14). The plaintiffs worked for the defendants' Subway restaurants in Huntsville, Alabama as non-exempt hourly employees. (Doc. 14, ¶¶ 5-8). The plaintiffs made sandwiches, served customers, and engaged in other non-exempt jobs. (Doc. 14, ¶¶ 1, 5-8). The plaintiffs maintained that on numerous occasions, the defendants required them to work more than 40 hours in a given workweek and refused to pay them overtime wages for those hours. (Doc. 14, ¶¶ 1, 25, 29-31).

         On June 21, 2016, plaintiff Jigar Patel accepted the defendants' offer of judgment in the amount of $500.00. (Doc. 21; Doc. 22-1, p. 2). The offer of judgment reads:

COME NOW the Defendants Ashish Shah, Anthony Sharifi, Sharifi, Inc., and Eat Fresh, Inc., and pursuant to Rule 68 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, offer to allow judgment to be taken against the Defendant, Eat Fresh, Inc., and in favor of the Plaintiff, Jigar Patel, in the total sum of Five Hundred Dollars ($500.00), in complete resolution of all claims stated by this plaintiff against any defendant in the above-styled action.

(Doc. 22-1, p. 2).

         On October 5, 2016, consistent with the discussion during an October 4, 2016 status conference, the Court ordered the parties to mediate the outstanding FLSA claims over the next two weeks. (Doc. 28). On three occasions over the following month, the parties requested additional time to engage in settlement discussions. (Docs. 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 37).

         On November 18, 2016, plaintiffs Palak Patel, Veena Patel, and Kanu Patel accepted the defendants' offers of judgment in the amounts of $1, 000, $2, 000, and $3, 000, respectively. (Doc. 40-2; Doc. 40-3; Doc. 40-4).

         The defendants' offer of judgment concerning Palak Patel reads:

COME NOW the Defendants, Ashish Shah, Anthony Sharifi, and Sharifi, Inc., and pursuant to Rule 68 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, offer to allow judgment to be taken against them in favor of the Plaintiff, Palak Patel, in the total sum of One Thousand Dollars ($1, 000.00), in complete resolution of all claims stated by this plaintiff against any defendant in the above-styled action.

(Doc. 40-2, p. 2).

         The defendants' offer of judgment concerning ...


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