United States District Court, E.D. New York
MEMORANDUM & ORDER
N. VITALIANO JUDGE.
Fernandez commenced this action in 2015 against his former
employer, Airport Ground Services and Leasing LLC
("AGS"), alleging violations of the Fair Labor
Standards Act ("FLSA") and violations of New York
Labor Law ("NYLL"), along with charges of national
origin and race discrimination under the New York State Human
Rights Law ("NYSIIRL") and federal law, 42 U.S.C.
§ 1981. See Dkt. No. 1. Presently before the
Court is a motion seeking approval of the settlement
agreement jointly submitted by the parties, Dkt. No. 34-1,
resolving all of the plaintiffs claims arising out of his
former employment with AGS for $10, 000. See also
Dkt. No. 34 ("Mot. for Approval"). It is the
Court's understanding that there are no other claims
pending and that all claims brought in plaintiffs December
24, 2015 complaint have been disposed of. For the reasons set
forth below, the motion requesting approval of the settlement
agreement is granted.
circumstances, under Rule41(a)(1)(A)(ii), litigants do not
need a court order to dismiss, with the consent of all
parties, a plaintiffs claims against a defendant.
See Fed. R. Civ. P. 41(a)(1)(A)(ii). The Second
Circuit has held, however, that "Rule 41(a)(1)(A)(ii)
stipulated dismissals settling FLSA claims with prejudice
require the approval of the district court or the [Department
of Labor] to take effect." Cheeks v. Freeport
Pancake House, Inc., 796 F.3d 199, 206 (2d Cir. 2015),
cert, denied, 136 S.Ct. 824, 193 L.Ed.2d 718 (2016).
Although Cheeks clearly fabricated a new court
approval requirement, it left the contours and protocols of
the approval process to common law development. See
Id. at 206-07. District courts, responding to the
assignment, have typically imported the multifactor standard
utilized in Wolinsky v. Scholastic Inc, 900
F.Supp.2d 332, 335 (S.D.N.Y. 2012), to evaluate whether an
FLSA wage and hour settlement was "fair and
reasonable." See, e.g., Cortes v. New Creators,
Inc., No, 15 Civ. 5680 (PAE), 2016 WL 3455383, at *2
(S.D.N.Y. June 20, 2016); Beckert v. Rubinov, No. 15
Civ. 1951 (PAE), 2015 WL 6503832, at *1 (S.D.N.Y. Oct. 27,
2015) (citing Velasquez v. SAFI-G, Inc., No. Civ.
3068 (WHP), 2015 WL 5915843, at *1 (S.D.N.Y. Oct. 7, 2015)).
With this guidance, "[i]n determining whether [a]
proposed settlement is fair and reasonable, a court.. .
considers] the totality of circumstances, including but not
limited to the following factors: (1) the plaintiffs range of
possible recovery; (2) the extent to which 'the
settlement will enable this 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 I settlement
agreement is the product of arm's-length bargaining
between experienced counsel; and (5) the possibility of fraud
or collusion." Wolinsky, 900 F.Supp.2d at 335
(quoting Medley v. Am. Cancer Soc, No. 10
Civ. 3214 (BSJ), 2010 WL 3000028, at *1 (S.D.N.Y. July 23,
proposed Fernandez settlement agreement passes muster under
the Wolinksy standard. Tellingly, the settlement
agreement is the product of almost one-and-a-half years of
active litigation. Discovery resulted in the production by
AGS of the relevant timekeeping records and the depositions
of AGS's manager, David Choi, and of Fernandez.
See Dkt. No. 3) at 2. With credit to the vigorous
prosecution and defense of the claims, both sides signaled
their readiness to pursue motions for summary judgment when,
in January 2017, they agreed to submit the case and its full
record to mediation. See Dkt. Nos. 30, 33; see
also 11/22/2016 Dkt. Entries. Plaintiff has since
reported that "the parties were assisted in reaching
this agreement by an experienced mediator assigned through
the Eastern District Mediation services." Mot. for
Approval at 1. In short, the record indicates persuasively
that this settlement agreement was demonstrably the product
of arm's-length bargaining between experienced counsel on
both sides; nothing in the record suggests fraud or collusion
or bad faith.
proposed settlement agreement, obviously, cuts litigation
expenses by avoiding the substantial expenditures that
further litigation would demand. Lastly, but significantly,
there is no over-reaching in the release terms of the
settlement agreement. The release is tethered to liability
for charges or claims "arising from the [FLSA, NYLL, and
related regulations]", Dkt. No. 34-1 § 2(c), and
the language provides no release from any potential claims by
Fernandez "that have no relationship whatsoever to
[claims arising out of the] wage-and-hour [dispute] [,
]" Cheeks, 796 F.3d at 206 (citation omitted).
On balance, the settlement agreement provides a fair and
reasonable resolution of Fernandez's employment
grievances arising out of his past employment with AGS.
foregoing reasons, the settlement agreement is approved. The
papers submitted by the parties reflect their Rule 41(a)
stipulated dismissal of this action so that no additional
filing will be required.
action is discontinued without cost and with prejudice,
except as to the right to reopen the action if the settlement
is not consummated.
Clerk is directed ...