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Slaughter v. 5 Star Pizza, LLC

United States District Court, S.D. Ohio, Eastern Division, Dayton

December 4, 2019

ROBERT SLAUGHTER, On behalf of himself and those similarly situated, Plaintiff,
v.
5 STAR PIZZA, LLC, et al., Defendants.

          Magistrate Judge Deavers

          ORDER APPROVING SETTLEMENT

          ALGENON L. MARBLEY, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter is before the Court on Plaintiffs' unopposed Motion for Settlement Approval. (ECF No. 20). For the following reasons, the Court GRANTS the Motion for Settlement Approval and the case is DISMISSED WITHOUT PREJUDICE. The parties are directed by the Court to file a Dismissal Order dismissing this case with prejudice not later than thirty (30) days after the entry of this Order.

         This matter is now terminated by settlement and shall be considered, pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 41, dismissed without prejudice as to all claims, until the parties file the above-referenced Dismissal Order dismissing this matter with prejudice, unless the case is reopened for good cause shown upon proper motion of one or more parties to this action. The Court will retain jurisdiction over the settlement agreements.

         I. BACKGROUND

         In April 2019, Plaintiff Slaughter filed his Complaint on behalf of himself and similarly situated employees alleging violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) and West Virginia state wage and hour statutes. Plaintiffs Sengstock, Mainville, Smith, and West joined the action at various times between May and September. The proposed settlements would fully resolve all claims which presently exist or may exist in the future against Defendants arising out of or relating to Plaintiffs' assertions in the Complaint. The Court has reviewed Plaintiffs' unopposed Motion and Settlement Agreements and approves the proposed settlements for the following reasons.

         II. ANALYSIS

         The Court shall approve an FLSA settlement if there exists a bona fide dispute under FLSA that can be resolved by a settlement agreement, the agreement was reached through an arms-length negotiation, and the agreement is fair, reasonable, and adequate. Kritzer v. Safelite Solutions, LLC, 2012 WL 1945144, at *5 (S.D. Ohio May 30, 2012) (citing In re Broadwing, Inc. ERISA Litig., 252 F.R.D. 369, 381-82 (S.D. Ohio 2006)).

         The settlements meet this standard for approval. First, the Court finds the settlements were the result of bona fide dispute. Defendants deny the material allegations of Plaintiffs' claims and any violation of the FLSA and state wage and hour laws. There is no indication that the parties were “merely engaged in pretense and posturing.” See Moulton v. U.S. Steel Corp., 581 F.3d 344, 351 (6th Cir. 2009). As discussed below, the Court also finds that the settlement agreements were reached as the result of arms-length negotiation.

         A. Fairness, Reasonableness, and Adequately of Settlement

         To determine whether a settlement is “fair, reasonable, and adequate, ” the Court balances the following factors: “(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 class counsel and representatives; (6) the reaction of absent class members; and (7) public interest in the settlement.” Vigna v. Emery Fed. Credit Union, No. 1:15- CV-51, 2016 WL 7034237, at *3 (S.D. Ohio Dec. 2, 2016). The balance of these factors weighs in favor of approving the proposed settlement agreements.

         5. The risk of collusion.

         The Court finds that the negotiations were conducted at arm's length and there is no reason to believe the settlement involves collusion. Pursuant to the arbitration agreements, Plaintiffs each pursued settlement negotiations individually. All Plaintiffs submit in their joint Motion that the negotiations were conducted at arm's length and Defendants do no object.

         2. Complexity, expense, and likely ...


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