United States District Court, S.D. New York
OPINION & ORDER
WANG, United States Magistrate Judge
brings this action against Chestnut Holdings of New York,
Inc. (“Chestnut”), 219 LLC, and Prana Real Estate
Equity Funds, LLC (“Prana”) in accordance with
the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”), the Family
Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”), the New York Labor
Law (“NYLL”), and New York City Human Rights Law
(“NYCHRL”) for alleged unpaid overtime
compensation, failure to pay minimum wage, failure to provide
wage statements, unlawful retaliation, unlawful interference,
and unlawful disability discrimination. (ECF 1). Plaintiff
and Prana reached a settlement in January 2019, which was
subsequently approved by the Honorable Gregory H. Woods. (ECF
52). The remaining parties now submit their proposed
settlement agreement to the Court for approval under
Cheeks v. Freeport Pancake House, Inc., 796 F.3d 199
(2d Cir. 2015). All parties have consented to my jurisdiction
in accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 636(c). (ECF 68). For the
reasons below, the Court APPROVES the
was hired by then-owner 219 Valentine Associates, LLC as a
residential superintendent in 2007 and, as a condition of his
employment, lived with his family in a basement apartment
within Defendants' five-story walk up apartment building.
(ECF 1 ¶ 26). He alleges he worked seven days and
approximately sixty-seven hours per week and performed
various cleaning tasks and repair work. (Id. ¶
28-30). Plaintiff was paid a flat rate of $375 per week,
which was later raised to $426.50 per week, based on a
forty-hour work week. (Id. ¶ 35). Despite
several changes in the building's ownership and its
management companies, Plaintiff continued working as a
superintendent and performing the same duties. (Id.
¶¶ 27, 33-34).
2016, the building was sold to Chestnut, and soon thereafter,
Plaintiff began receiving disciplinary warnings despite never
having been disciplined in his job before. (Id.
¶¶ 48-50). The warnings were related to his
occupancy of the basement apartment and not to his job
performance. (Id. ¶¶ 49-50).
September 2016, Plaintiff suffered a knee injury while
walking down a set of steps to check the building's
boiler. (Id. ¶51). Plaintiff continued with his
job duties and asked his two adult sons to assist him with
his work until visiting the doctor and being advised to take
three days off from work. (Id. ¶¶ 54-59).
Plaintiff received a doctor's note, informed his
supervisor that he would need time off, and faxed the note to
his supervisor. (Id. ¶ 59-60). Plaintiff also
asked his sons to complete his work during his time off.
(Id. ¶ 62). Shortly thereafter, Plaintiff was
terminated. (Id. ¶ 64). Plaintiff did not
receive a reason for his termination. (Id.)
Approximately two weeks later, Chestnut sought to evict
Plaintiff from his apartment. (Id. ¶ 67).
filed his complaint on August 3, 2018. (Id.)
Plaintiff settled with Prana in January 2019. (ECF 52).
Civ. P. 41(a)(1)(A) permits the voluntary dismissal of an
action brought in federal court, but subjects that grant of
permission to the limitations imposed by “any
applicable federal statute.” The Second Circuit has
held that “in light of the unique policy considerations
underlying the FLSA, ” this statute falls within that
exception, and that “stipulated dismissals settling
FLSA claims with prejudice require the approval of the
district court or the [Department of Labor] to take
effect.” Cheeks, 796 F.3d at 206. This Court
will approve such a settlement if it finds it to be fair and
reasonable, employing the five non-exhaustive factors
enumerated in Wolinsky v. Scholastic Inc.:
(1) the plaintiff's 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.
900 F.Supp.2d 332, 335 (S.D.N.Y. 2012) (internal quotations
Range of Recovery
alleges a maximum recovery against Chestnut under FLSA to be
approximately $40, 484 ($20, 242 in unpaid wages plus $20,
242 in liquidated damages). (ECF 75 at 4). The proposed
settlement amount is $31, 483.72. (ECF 75 at 3). Of the total
settlement amount, Plaintiff would receive $25, 000 and
Plaintiff's counsel would then take $6, 483.72 in fees
and costs. (Id.) The Plaintiff's settlement
amount thus represents approximately 61% of Plaintiff's
alleged maximum damages and is greater than the alleged
amount of unpaid wages. Given the risks of litigation as noted
below, the Court finds this amount reasonable.
Burden and ...