United States District Court, E.D. New York
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
L. POLLAK UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
before the Court is the parties' joint motion to approve
the settlement in this wage and hour case brought under the
Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA"), 29 U.S.C. §
201 et seq., and the New York Labor Law
("NYLL") § 650 et seq. As explained
more fully below, the Court held a fairness hearing on
January 5, 2018 and concludes that the proposed settlement is
fair and reasonable based on the parties' submissions and
the Court's familiarity with this case acquired through
extensive involvement in the litigation over the past four
parties' motion to approve the settlement is therefore
case has an extensive background extending over four years of
litigation, with which the Court assumes familiarity. See
generally Bedasie v. Mr. Z Towing. Inc., No. 13
CV 5453, 2017 WL 1135727 (E.D.N.Y. Mar. 24, 2017);
Bedasie v. Mr. Z Towing. Inc., No. 13 CV 5453, 2017
WL 5665858 (E.D.N.Y. Nov. 27, 2017); Bedasie v. Mr. Z
Towing. Inc., No. 17-2922, 2017 WL 6520477 (2d Cir. Dec.
4, 2017); Bedasie v. Mr. Z Towing. Inc.. No. 13 CV
5453, 2017 WL 6816331 (E.D.N.Y. Dec. 21, 2017).
December 22, 2017, the parties filed their joint motion for
approval of the settlement agreement. (See Mot. for
Approval, Dec. 22, 2017, ECF No. 107). Defendants filed a
notice of appeal with respect to the Court's November 27,
2017 Order awarding attorneys' fees and the Court's
December 21, 2017 Order granting the motion to reduce the
damages award. (See Not. of Appeal, Dec. 26, 2017,
ECF No. 108). The parties subsequently filed a stipulation to
withdraw the appeal under Second Circuit Local Rule 42.1,
which was "so ordered" by the Second Circuit Court
of Appeals. (See Ct. of Appeals Order, Jan. 3, 2018,
ECF No. 110). The Court held a fairness hearing on
January 5, 2018. (See Minute Entry, ECF No. 112).
employee may not waive or otherwise settle an FLSA claim for
unpaid wages for less than the full statutory damages unless
the settlement is supervised by the Secretary of Labor or
made pursuant to a judicially supervised stipulated
settlement." Wolinsky v. Scholastic, Inc., 900
F.Supp.2d 332, 335 (S.D.N.Y. 2012). Accordingly, the Second
Circuit has held that the FLSA is an "applicable federal
statute" that precludes voluntary dismissal under Rule
41 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure absent court
order, and therefore FLSA settlements must be approved by the
court or the Department of Labor. See Cheeks v. Freeport
Pancake House, Inc., 796 F.3d 199, 206 (2d Cir. 2015).
deciding whether to approve a settlement, "courts must
consider whether the agreement reflects a reasonable
compromise of disputed issues rather than a mere waiver of
statutory rights brought about by the employer's
overreaching." Mosquera v. Masada Auto Sales.
Ltd., No. 09 CV 4925, 2011 WL 282327, at *1 (E.D.N.Y.
Jan. 25, 2011) (citation omitted). The fundamental inquiry is
whether the settlement's terms are fair and reasonable
under the circumstances. In conducting that inquiry, courts
consider the totality of the circumstances, which generally
include a review of the following factors: (1) the range of
plaintiffs possible recovery; (2) the extent to which the
proposed settlement will allow the parties to avoid
anticipated burdens and expenses associated with further
litigation; (3) the seriousness of the risks faced by the
parties if they continue to litigate; (4) whether the
settlement is the product of arm's-length negotiation
between counsel, including whether a neutral mediator
facilitated the proposed settlement; and (5) the possibility
of fraud or collusion. Wolinsky v. Scholastic. Inc.,
900 F.Supp.2d at 335; see also Misiewicz v. D'Onofrio
Gen. Contractors Corp.. No. 08 CV 4377, 2010 WL 2545439,
at *4 (E.D.N.Y. May 17, 2010) (identifying nine factors).
the settlement provides for payment of attorneys' fees,
the court must also determine the reasonableness of the
proposed fee award. See 29 U.S.C. § 216(b)
(providing that "[t]he Court... shall, in
addition to any judgment... allow a reasonable
attorney's fee") (emphasis added); Wolinsky v.
Scholastic. Inc., 900 F.Supp.2d at 336 (collecting
cases). However, "there is a greater range of
reasonableness for approving attorney's fees in an
individual action where the parties settled on the fee
through negotiation." Misiewicz v. D'Onofrio
Gen. Contractors Corp., 2010 WL 2545439, at *5.
The Proposed Settlement Agreement
proposed settlement agreement (the "Agreement")
provides for a total payment of $225, 000, of which $101,
105.15 is allocated among the individual plaintiffs, and the
remainder is dedicated to attorneys' fees and costs.
(See Mot. for Approval at 2; see generally
Settlement Agreement, Dec. 22, 2017, ECF No. 107-1). The
settlement will be paid out over the course of approximately
21 months, with a significant initial payment of $112, 000,
of which more than $72, 000 is directed to plaintiffs, with
the remainder to their counsel. (See Mot. for
Approval at 2 n.1; Settlement Agreement ¶ 2(a)). The
majority of attorneys' ...