United States District Court, D. Massachusetts
November 10, 2015
Jessica Singleton, individually and on behalf of all others
similarly situated, Plaintiff: Ralph Rosenberg, LEAD
ATTORNEY, PRO HAC VICE, Morgado, P.A., Miami, FL; Andrew J.
Garcia, Phillips & Garcia, LLP, North Dartmouth, MA.
T Mobility Services, LLC, Defendant: Ashley Keapproth, LEAD
ATTORNEY, PRO HAC VICE, Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld,
LLP, Washington, DC; Daniel S. Field, Sean P. O'Connor,
LEAD ATTORNEYS, Morgan, Brown & Joy LLP, Boston, MA; Joel M.
Cohn, LEAD ATTORNEY, PRO HAC VICE, Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer
& Feld -- Wash. DC, Washington, DC; Robert P. Joy, LEAD
ATTORNEY, Morgan, Brown & Joy, LLP, Boston, MA.
D. BURROUGHS, DISTRICT JUDGE.
the Court is a Joint Motion filed by plaintiff Jessica
Singleton (" Singleton" ), opt-in plaintiff Glenda
Getant (" Getant" ), and Defendant AT& T Mobility
Services, LLC's (" AT& T" ), seeking the
Court's approval of the parties' proposed settlement
in this case. [ECF No. 38]. For the reasons that follow, the
parties' Joint Motion is ALLOWED.
19, 2015, plaintiff Singleton filed this case as a putative
" collective action" under the federal Fair Labor
Standards Act (" FLSA" ). The Amended Complaint,
[ECF No. 24], alleges that AT& T violated the FLSA by
requiring Singleton and other hourly assistant store managers
to work " off the clock," by answering telephone
calls, emails, and text messages at home, but failing to
compensate them for this time. On August 13, 2015, opt-in
plaintiff Getant filed her notice of consent to join this
action. [ECF No. 25]. AT& T answered the Amended Complaint on
September 14, 2015.
formal discovery has not yet begun, the parties engaged in
settlement discussions in September and October 2015. On
October 16, 2015, the parties filed their Joint Motion for
Approval of Settlement and Dismissal With Prejudice, [ECF No.
38], in which they ask the Court to approve their settlement
of Singleton and Getant's claims against AT&
private settlement of FLSA claims requires the approval of
either the Department of Labor or the district court. See
Cheeks v. Freeport Pancake House, Inc., 796 F.3d
199, 206 (2d Cir. 2015) (" [S]tipulated dismissals
settling FLSA claims with prejudice require the approval of
the district court or the [Department of Labor] to take
effect." ); Lynn's Food Stores, Inc. v. United
States, 679 F.2d 1350, 1353 (11th Cir. 1982) (district
court may enter a stipulated judgment after "
scrutinizing the settlement for fairness" ). The Court
may approve the settlement upon a finding that all parties to
the action have agreed to it, and that it represents a "
fair and reasonable resolution of a bona fide dispute over
FLSA provisions." Lynn's Food Stores, Inc., 679 F.2d
at 1355. Further, " [w]here a proposed settlement of
FLSA claims includes the payment of attorney's fees, the
court must also assess the reasonableness of the fee
award." Mireku v. Red Vision Sys., Inc., No. 11
Civ 9671(RA)(JLC), 2013 WL 6335978, at *1 (S.D.N.Y. Dec. 6,
2013) (citing Wolinsky v. Scholastic Inc., 900
F.Supp.2d 332, 336 (S.D.N.Y. 2012)); see also 29 U.S.C.
§ 216(b) (" The court in such action shall, in
addition to any judgment awarded to the plaintiff or
plaintiffs, allow a reasonable attorney's fee to be paid
by the defendant, and costs of the action." ); Silva
v. Miller, 307 Fed.Appx. 349 (11th Cir. Jan. 13, 2009)
(holding that the FLSA " requires judicial review of the
reasonableness of counsel's legal fees to assure both
that counsel is compensated adequately and that no conflict
of interest taints the amount the wronged employee recovers
under a settlement agreement" ).
October 22, 2015, the parties submitted their executed
Settlement Agreement for the Court's in-camera review.
The Court held a hearing on the parties' Joint Motion on
November 3, 2015. At the hearing, the Court requested that
plaintiffs submit additional documentation supporting the
portion of the settlement allocated to attorneys' fees.
Plaintiffs' counsel provided this information to the
Court on November 5, 2015.
reviewing the pleadings and the parties' Joint Motion,
the Court finds that the parties' proposed settlement
represents a " fair and reasonable resolution of a bona
fide dispute over FLSA provisions." Lynn's Food
Stores, Inc., 679 F.2d at 1355. When determining whether
a proposed settlement is fair and reasonable, courts consider
the " totality of the circumstances," which may
include such factors as " (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 (S.D.N.Y. 2012).
November 3, 2015 hearing before the Court, the parties
explained their views on the range of possible recoveries,
which were calculated based on the number of weeks the
plaintiffs worked for AT& T, their regular rates of pay, and
the estimated number of hours per week that they allegedly
dedicated to " off-the-clock" work for which they
were not paid. After examining these figures, the Court
agrees that the parties' proposed settlement represents a
fair and reasonable resolution of this dispute, and that the
settlement was reached through arms-length negotiations
between counsel for both parties. The Court has found no
reason to suspect fraud or collusion, and it finds that the
early settlement of this dispute will avoid potentially
lengthy and expensive litigation over what appears to be a
modest amount of alleged damages.
Court also approves the parties' proposed settlement with
respect to attorneys' fees and costs. " 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
(citation omitted). But even in such cases, the Court "
must carefully scrutinize the settlement and the
circumstances in which it was reached, if only to ensure that
'the interest of plaintiffs' counsel in counsel's
own compensation [did not] adversely affect the extent of the
relief counsel [procured] for the clients.'"
Id. (citation omitted). After reviewing the time
records submitted by Plaintiffs' counsel, the Court finds
that the amount allocated for attorneys' fees is fair and
reasonable, in light of the result reached in this case, and
the total number of hours that plaintiffs' counsel
dedicated to this matter.
foregoing reasons, the parties' proposed settlement is
hereby APPROVED, and the above-captioned action ...