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Ali v. Piron, LLC

United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division

April 12, 2019

SUHAIL ALI, SHALAN ALMANSOOB, QASEM SALEH, and KASSEM DUBAISHI, on behalf of themselves and all other persons similarly situated, known and unknown, Plaintiffs,
v.
PIRON, LLC, STEVE HANNAH, CRAIG MONROE, REYNOLDS QUALITY INSTALLATIONS, LLC, RODERICK REYNOLDS JR., AERO COMMUNICATIONS, INC, and COMCAST CABLE COMMUNICATIONS MANAGEMENT, LLC, a Michigan company, Defendants.

          OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING THE PARTIES' JOINT MOTION FOR APPROVAL OF FLSA SETTLEMENT (ECF NO. 95)

          LINDA V. PARKER U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Plaintiffs filed this putative collective action claiming that Defendants violated the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) by failing to pay overtime compensation. The Court conditionally certified the matter as a collective action. (ECF No. 76.) Thereafter, the parties engaged in a settlement conference before Magistrate Judge Grand, where a settlement was reached. Plaintiffs subsequently filed a Joint Motion for Approval of FLSA Settlement. (ECF No. 95.) For the reasons that follow, the Court is granting the motion.

         I. Applicable Law

         When reviewing a proposed FLSA settlement, the court must determine whether the settlement is a “fair and reasonable resolution of a bona fide dispute over FLSA provisions.” Lynn's Food Stores, 679 F.2d at 1355. There are several factors courts consider in making this determination:

(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 v. Scholastic, Inc., 900 F.Supp.2d 332, 335 (S.D.N.Y. 2012) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted); see also Dees v. Hydradry, Inc., 706 F.Supp.2d 1227, 1241 (M.D. Fla. 2010).

         Where the settlement agreement includes the payment of attorney's fees, the court must assess the reasonableness of that amount. Wolinsky, 900 F.Supp.2d at 336 (citing cases finding judicial review of the fee award necessary). “[T]he Court must carefully scrutinize the settlement and the circumstances in which it was reached, if only to ensure that ‘the interest of [the] plaintiffs' counsel in counsel's own compensation did not adversely affect the extent of the relief counsel procured for the clients.' ” Id. (quoting Cisek v. Nat'l Surface Cleaning, Inc., 954 F.Supp. 110, 110-11 (S.D.N.Y. 1997)).

         II. Analysis

         After 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.

         The Court first turns to the potential range of recovery. In their brief, the parties dispute the range of recovery. Consequently, the range of recovery is stated to be between de minimis and $68, 640.00, excluding attorneys' fees. The proposed settlement amount is $26, 344.94. The parties have found and agreed that this amount is reasonable.

         Next, the Court looks to the extent that settlement will enable the parties to avoid additional burdens and expenses. With the proposed settlement, the parties will not have to incur the burden and expense of trial.

         The third factor to consider is the litigation risks faced if the settlement is not approved. Here, both parties face risks if the Court does not approve settlement because there is a bona fide dispute as to an issue of employment law and whether Defendants jointly employed Plaintiffs. The resolution of this dispute creates risks either to Plaintiffs' potential award or Defendants' potential exposure.

         Fourth, the Court considers whether the settlement agreement is the product of arm's-length bargaining. The parties reached their settlement during a settlement conference before Magistrate Judge Grand; therefore, the Court concludes that the settlement is the product of arm's-length bargaining.

         Finally, the Court must consider whether fraud or collusion occurred in reaching the proposed settlement. The Court has found no reason to suspect fraud or collusion ...


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