United States District Court, S.D. Ohio, Eastern Division
Elizabeth P. Deavers Magistrate Judge
OPINION AND ORDER
A. SARGUS, JR. CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter is before the Court on the parties' Joint Motion
for Approval of Settlement (ECF No. 17). For the following
reasons, the parties' Motion is GRANTED.
Samuel Morse brought this case on behalf of himself and
similarly-situated individuals against Defendants Complete
Wiring Concepts, LLC and Tyrone Christian alleging, among
other things, that he and other individuals are owed unpaid
wages under the Fair Labor Standards Act, 29 U.S.C. §
201, et seq. (FLSA). (Compl. at 1, ECF No. 1.) On
the parties' agreement, the Court approved notice to, and
conditionally certified a collective of, "all current
and former hourly non-exempt field technicians of Defendants
who were not paid overtime wages because they received
reimbursements that were excluded from their regular rate of
pay for the last three years." (Oct. 10, 2017 Order at
1, ECF No. 13.) One individual, Caleb Giraud, responded to
the notice and joined the case as an opt-in Plaintiff.
(Notice at 1, ECF No. 16.)
parties' proposed settlement of the unpaid wage claims is
now before the Court. Under the proposed settlement,
Defendants will pay Plaintiffs and their counsel $5, 070 in
exchange for a release of all claims. (Settlement at 1-2, ECF
No. 17-1.) Morse will receive $50; Giraud will receive $20;
and Plaintiffs' counsel will receive the remaining $5,
000 in attorney fees and costs. (Id. at 1.) Although
their recovery is small, Plaintiffs are receiving more than
"the full amount of their potential recovery under the
FLSA." (Mot. at 7, ECF No. 17.)
Court first considers the fairness of the proposed settlement
and then addresses the reasonableness of the requested
attorney fees and costs.
settlements generally require approval by a district court or
the United States Department of Labor. See 29 U.S.C.
§ 216; Gentrup v. Renovo Servs., LLC, No.
1:07-cv-430, 2011 WL 2532922, at *2 (S.D. Ohio June 24,
2011). "In reviewing a proposed FLSA settlement, a court
must scrutinize the proposed settlement for fairness and
determine whether the settlement is a fair and reasonable
resolution of a bona fide dispute over FLSA provisions."
Clevenger v. JMCMech, Inc., No. 2:15-CV-2639, 2015
WL 12681645, at *1 (S.D. Ohio Sept. 25, 2015) (citing
Int'l Union, United Auto., Aerospace, & Agric.
Implement Workers of Am. v. Gen. Motors Corp., 497 F.3d
615, 631 (6th Cir. 2007)). Courts consider several factors
when deciding whether to approve an FLSA settlement: (1) the
risk of fraud or collusion behind the settlement; (2) the
complexity, expense, and likely duration of the litigation;
(3) the amount of discovery completed; (4) the plaintiffs
likelihood of success on the merits; and (5) the public
interest in settlement. Padilla v. Pelayo, No.
3:14-cv-305, 2015 WL 4638618, at * 1 (S.D. Ohio Aug. 4, 2015)
(citing Gen. Motors Corp., 497 F.3d at 631).
Court has considered the relevant factors and concludes that
the proposed settlement in this case is a fair and reasonable
resolution of a bona fide FLSA dispute. The parties zealously
litigated the case with competent and experienced counsel.
(See Coffman Decl. at 1-3, ECF No. 17-2.) And after
engaging "in detailed settlement discussions about the
viability of the legal and factual underpinnings of the
lawsuit," the parties arrived at the proposed
settlement. (Mot. at 3, ECF No. 17.)
Requested Attorney Fees and Costs
FLSA provides for the award of reasonable attorney fees and
costs in addition to any judgment awarded to the plaintiff.
See 29 U.S.C. § 216(b). "The purpose of
the FLSA attorney fees provision is 'to insure effective
access to the judicial process by providing attorney fees for
prevailing plaintiffs with wage and hour
grievances.'" Fegley v. Higgins, 19 F.3d
1126, 1134 (6th Cir. 1994) (quoting United Slate, Tile
& Composition Roofers, Damp & Waterproof Workers
Ass'n, Local 307 v. G & MRoofing & Sheet Metal
Co., 732 F.2d 495, 502 (6th Cir. 1984)). In line with
this congressionally identified purpose, courts determining
the reasonableness of attorney fees "should not place an
undue emphasis on the amount of the plaintiffs recovery"
as compared to the amount of the requested fees. Id.
at 1134-35. The plaintiff bears the burden of proving the
reasonableness of the requested fees and expenses.
Barnettv. E-Waste Sys., Inc., No. l:14-cv-908, 2015
WL 1757302, at *7 (S.D. Ohio Apr. 17, 2015).
the proposed settlement, Plaintiffs' counsel will receive
$5, 000 in attorney fees and costs. (Settlement at 1, ECF No.
17-1.) Plaintiffs' counsel states that he agreed to this
payment even though the costs and fees he incurred in
litigating this case were considerably higher-$552.60 in
expenses and at least $8, 635 in attorney fees (24.7 hours
worked, as of May 3, 2018, at $350 per hour). (Mot. at 7-8,
ECF No. 17; Coffman Decl. at 4, ECF No. 17-2.) Given the
posture and complexity of the case, the amount recovered for