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Batista v. Horowitz

United States District Court, S.D. New York

July 27, 2018

JUAN CARLOS BATISTA, Plaintiff,
v.
YITZCHECK HOROWITZ, DANIEL GOLDSTEIN, LEIBEL LEDERMAN, ARYEH Z. GINZBERG, IRVING LANGER, E&M ASSOCIATES LLC, 22 PEARSALL, LLC, 295 WEST 150 LGL ASSOCIATES L.P., STAFFPRO, INC., STAFFLGL, LLC, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM DECISION & ORDER

          KATHERINE B. FORREST UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Currently pending before the Court is a proposed settlement agreement. (ECF No. 26.) For the reasons stated below, the Court hereby APPROVES the settlement set forth therein.

          I. BACKGROUND

         On October 31, 2017, Juan Carlos Batista commenced this action pursuant to the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (“FLSA”), 29 U.S.C. § 201 et seq., and the New York Labor Law (“NYLL”), § 190 et seq. and § 650 et seq. (See generally Compl., ECF No. 1.) The Complaint alleges, in sum, that defendants: (1) failed to pay plaintiffs the requisite minimum hourly rate; (2) failed to pay plaintiffs the statutorily required overtime compensation; and (3) failed to provide plaintiffs with the required notices/wage statements.

         Defendants answered the Complaint on November 14, 2017. (ECF No. 10.) On December 18, 2017, the parties attended a mediation conference in the courthouse; the mediation was unsuccessful. (ECF No. 22.) Plaintiff then sought leave to file an Amended Complaint, in order to alter the caption to name the proper defendants; the Court granted the motion. (ECF Nos. 23, 24, 25.)

         On July 13, 2018, the Court received notice that plaintiff in this action had accepted an offer of judgment for $75, 000. (ECF No. 26.) Plaintiff's counsel made a fairness submission regarding that accepted offer pursuant to Cheeks v. Freeport Pancake House, Inc., 796 F.3d 199 (2d Cir. 2015). (ECF No. 26.) The Court ordered plaintiff's counsel to file any retainer agreement, (ECF No. 27); plaintiff's counsel did so on July 18, 2018, (ECF No. 28).

         II. LEGAL PRINCIPLES

         A. Approval of FLSA Settlements

         The FLSA and its case law protects employees from being coerced into settling claims by requiring that a settlement either be supervised by the Secretary of Labor or be made pursuant to a judicially supervised settlement agreement. Cheeks v. Freeport Pancake House, Inc., 796 F.3d 199, 206 (2d Cir. 2015), cert. denied, 136 S.Ct. 824 (2016). Before the Court enters judgment on a settlement agreement, “the parties must satisfy the Court that their agreement is ‘fair and reasonable.'” Santos v. Yellowstone Properties, Inc., No. 15-cv-3986, 2016 WL 2757427, at *2 (S.D.N.Y. May 10, 2016) (quoting Velasquez v. SAFI-G, Inc., 137 F.Supp.3d 582, 584 (S.D.N.Y. 2015)).

         To evaluate whether a settlement meets this threshold, the Court looks to the totality of the circumstances, including:

(1) the plaintiffs range of possible recovery; (2) the extent to which “the settlement will enable the 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 settlement agreement is the product of arm's-length bargaining between experienced counsel, ” and (5) the possibility of fraud or collusion.

Wolinsky v. Scholastic Inc., 900 F.Supp.2d 332, 335 (S.D.N.Y. 2012) (quoting Medley v. Am. Cancer Soc., No. 10-cv-3214, 2010 WL 3000028, at *1 (S.D.N.Y. July 23, 2010) (other citations omitted)).

         Factors that weigh against settlement approval “include the following: (1) ‘the presence of other employees situated similarly to the claimant'; (2) ‘a likelihood that the claimant's circumstance will recur'; (3) ‘a history of FLSA noncompliance by the same employer or others in the same industry or geographic region'; and (4) the desirability of ‘a mature record' and ‘a pointed determination of the governing factual or legal ...


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