United States District Court, S.D. Ohio, Western Division
JEREMY HAMM, et al, Individually and on behalf of All Others Similarly Situated, Plaintiffs,
SOUTHERN OHIO MEDICAL CENTER, Defendant.
ORDER DENYING AS MOOT THE PARTIES' JOINT MOTION
FOR LEAVE TO FILE SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT UNDER SEAL (DOC. 25)
AND GRANTING THE PARTIES' JOINT MOTION TO APPROVE
SETTLEMENT AND DISMISS CASE (DOC. 26)
TIMOTHY S. BLACK UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
case is before the Court on the parties' joint motion to
file settlement agreement under seal (Doc. 25) and joint
motion to approve settlement and dismiss the case (Doc. 26).
September 19, 2016, Plaintiff Jeremy Hamm, a security officer
at Southern Ohio Medical Center ("SOMC"), filed
this action alleging that his employer violated the Fair
Labor Standards Act ("FLS A") through enforcement
of its policy of automatically deducting a 30 minute meal
period from each security officer's shift.
March 10, 2017, the Court granted Mr. Hamm's motion for
FLS A conditional certification. (Doc. 22). On June 8, 2017,
Plaintiffs filed an Amended Complaint (Doc. 23) to reflect
the fact that one additional plaintiff, David Morales, had
parties have resolved the issues in this case and executed a
settlement agreement ("Settlement Agreement") (Doc.
26-1). Under the Settlement Agreement, inter alia,
SOMC agreed to make payments to the Plaintiffs for
attorneys' fees, wage-based damages, and non-wage based
damages, and Plaintiffs agreed to release their claims
against SOMC. (Id.)
The parties' joint motion to file the Settlement
Agreement under seal is moot.
August 25, 2017, the parties filed a joint motion for leave
to file the Settlement Agreement under seal. (Doc. 25). The
parties argued that they agreed to keep the Settlement
Agreement confidential, and without confidentiality of the
Settlement Agreement, SOMC would be deprived of a benefit
that was the basis for their settlement bargain.
a duly scheduled status conference on August 29, 2017, the
Court advised the parties that, pursuant to Sixth Circuit
jurisprudence, litigants cannot simply agree to file a
document under seal; instead, the party requesting the seal
must demonstrate compelling reasons why the filing should be
kept off the public docket. The Court forwarded the parties
relevant Sixth Circuit case law on the issue, including
Klingenberg v. Fed. Home Loan Mortg. Co., 658
Fed.Appx. 202, 207 (6th Cir. 2016) and Shane
Grp. Inc. v. Blue Cross Blue Shield, 825 F.3d 299,
305-306 (6th Cir. 2016), and asked the parties to
identify compelling reasons justifying their request for a
seal consistent with the standards provided by the Sixth
Circuit. Counsel for SOMC advised that they did not have any
additional compelling reasons for filing the Settlement
Agreement under seal aside from the fact that the opt-in
period had closed. In any event, on September 8, 2017, the
parties filed their joint motion to approve settlement and
dismiss the case (Doc. 26), which includes an unredacted,
public copy of the Settlement Agreement (Doc. 26-1).
parties have already filed a public version of the Settlement
Agreement (Doc. 26-1), the parties' joint motion to file
the Settlement Agreement under seal (Doc. 25) is
DENIED as MOOT.
The Settlement Agreement is fair and reasonable.
general rule, employees' claims under the FLSA are
non-waivable and may not be settled without supervision of
either the Secretary of Labor or a district court.
Gentrup v. Renovo Servs. LLC, No. 1:07-cv-430, 2011
U.S. Dist. LEXIS 67887, at * 6 (S.D. Ohio June 24, 2011)
(citing Lynn's Food Stores, Inc. v. United
States, 679 F.2d 1350, 1352-53 (11th Cir.
1982)). The proper procedure for obtaining court approval is
for the parties to present to the court a proposed
settlement, upon which the district court may enter a
stipulated judgment only after scrutinizing the settlement
for fairness. Id. If a settlement in an employee
FLSA suit reflects "a reasonable compromise over issues,
" such as FLSA coverage or computation of back wages
that are "actually in dispute." the court may
approve the settlement "in order to promote the policy
of encouraging settlement of litigation." Id.
Sixth Circuit has counseled that a district court should
consider the following factors in determining whether the
settlement of an FLSA claim is fair and reasonable: (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 counsel and ...