United States District Court, S.D. West Virginia
ANGELA UNDERWOOD, individually and on behalf of others similarly situated, Plaintiff,
KC TRANSPORT, INC., d/b/a KC TRANSPORT OF WEST VIRGINIA, INC., a West Virginia Corporation, and KENNY COMPTON, a West Virginia resident, Defendants.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
T. Copenhaver, Jr. Senior United States District Judge
is the parties' joint motion, filed January 18, 2019, for
approval of a settlement agreement and dismissal of this
action with prejudice.
Angela Underwood initiated this action in this court on April
26, 2017, charging defendant KC Transport, Inc. with alleged
violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act
(“FLSA”), 29 U.S.C. § 201 et seq. The
plaintiff, a former employee of KC Transport, claimed that KC
Transport owed her and all other similarly situated
individuals unpaid overtime wages.
action has never been certified, either conditionally or
finally, pursuant to 29 U.S.C. 216(b).
both parties fully briefed their cross-motions for summary
judgment, the parties informed the court that they had
reached a settlement through mediation. The parties later
filed the pending motion, seeking approval of a settlement
that would dismiss with prejudice plaintiff's claims.
Attached to the motion is an unexecuted “Mediated
Partial Settlement Agreement.”
settlement between the parties here is intended to settle not
only the claims raised in this case but also an
age-discrimination dispute between the parties in state
court. See Joint Mot., ECF No. 57, at 3. The Settlement
Agreement describes a universal settlement for both claims in
the amount of $10, 000. Settlement Agreement, ECF No. 57-1.
The parties later informed the court, by filing a
supplemental joint motion on February 26, 2019, that $5, 000
was the amount allocated to settle the FLSA matter.
Supplemental Joint Mot., ECF No. 58, at 2. While the
Settlement Agreement filed with the court on January 18, 2019
contained a confidentiality provision, which is inconsistent
with FLSA jurisprudence, the parties filed, on March 8, 2019,
a stipulation that any confidentiality provision, or
reference thereto, relating to the above-styled civil action,
including the filed Settlement Agreement, shall be deemed
stricken. ECF No. 59. All payments have already been made to
the plaintiff and her counsel. Joint Mot., ECF No. 57, at 2.
Standard of Review
FLSA establishes federal minimum-wage, maximum-hour, and
overtime guarantees that cannot be modified by
contract.” Genesis HealthCare, 569 U.S. at 69. Doing so
would thwart the purpose of the Act, which is “to
protect all covered workers from substandard wages and
oppressive working hours, ‘labor conditions [that are]
detrimental to the maintenance of the minimum standard of
living necessary for health, efficiency, and general
well-being of workers.'” Barrentine v.
Arkansas-Best Freight Sys., 450 U.S. 728, 739 (1981)
(alteration in original) (quoting 42 U.S.C. § 202(a)).
Consequently, FLSA claims for back wages can be settled in
only two ways, only one of which is relevant here:
“When employees bring a private action for back wages
under the FLSA, and present to the district court a proposed
settlement, the district court may enter a stipulated
judgment after scrutinizing the settlement for
fairness.” Lynn's Food Stores, Inc. v. United
States, 679 F.2d 1350, 1352-53 (11th Cir. 1982) (citing
Schulte, Inc. v. Gangi, 328 U.S. 108 (1946), and
Jarrard v. Southeastern Shipbuilding Corp., 163 F.2d
960, 961 (5th Cir. 1947)).
the Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit has not yet had
occasion to endorse a standard for approving FLSA
settlements, “district courts in this circuit typically
employ the considerations set forth by the Eleventh Circuit
in Lynn's Food Stores.” Kim v. Confidential
Studio Inc., No. PWG-15-410, 2017 WL 3592455 at *2 (D.
Md. Aug. 21, 2017) (citing cases). As succinctly stated by
the district court in Confidential Studio,
[t]he settlement must “reflect[ ] a fair and reasonable
resolution of a bona fide dispute over FLSA provisions,
” which includes findings with regard to (1) whether
there are FLSA issues actually in dispute, (2) the fairness
and reasonableness of the settlement in light of the relevant
factors from [Federal Rule of Civil Procedure] 23, and (3)
the reasonableness of the attorneys' fees, if included in
Id. (second alteration in original) (citing cases
and quoting Lynn's Food Stores, 679 F.2d at 1355).
the FLSA issue here is actually in dispute. The plaintiff
alleges that she is a non-exempt employee, entitled to unpaid
overtime wages she earned while working ...