United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, El Dorado Division
McCOY FRANKLIN, Individually and on Behalf of All Others Similarly Situated PLAINTIFF
MAGNOLIA FLOORING MILL, LLC DEFENDANT
O. Hickey Chief United States District Judge
the Court is the parties' Joint Motion for Stipulated
Collective Action Settlement and Settlement Approval. ECF No.
43. Also before the Court is Plaintiff's Motion for Costs
and Attorneys' Fees. ECF No. 48. Defendant Magnolia
Flooring Mill, LLC (“Magnolia Flooring”) has
filed a response. ECF No. 52. Plaintiff has filed a reply.
ECF No. 57. Defendant has filed a sur-reply. ECF No. 60. The
Court finds these matters ripe for consideration.
filed his Complaint on December 15, 2017. ECF No. 1.
Plaintiff brings this action individually and on behalf of
all others similarly situated pursuant to the Fair Labor
Standards Act (“FLSA”), 29 U.S.C. §§
201, et seq., and the Arkansas Minimum Wage Act
(“AMWA”), Ark. Code Ann. §§ 11-4-201,
et seq. ECF No. 1, ¶ 1. Plaintiff states that
he was employed by Defendant Magnolia Flooring as an hourly
paid forklift driver. ECF No. 1, ¶ 19. Plaintiff alleges
that he and other similarly situated hourly paid employees
were classified by Defendant as non-exempt from the overtime
requirements of the FLSA. ECF No. 1, ¶¶ 22, 83.
Plaintiff claims that Defendant paid him and other hourly
paid employees “non-discretionary monetary
bonuses” that “were fixed amounts” based on
the employee's “performance and ability to meet
certain criteria set by Defendant[.]” ECF No. 1,
¶¶ 24, 25, 34. However, Plaintiff alleges that
Defendant failed to include these bonuses when calculating
employees' regular pay rate for overtime pay
calculations. ECF No. 1, ¶¶ 26, 37. Plaintiff
claims that he and other hourly paid employees worked more
than forty hours in at least one week in which they earned a
bonus and that the bonus was not included in the calculation
of their overtime pay. ECF No. 1, ¶¶ 27, 28.
Plaintiff asserts that the failure to include his and other
hourly paid employees' bonuses in calculating overtime
pay violated the FLSA and AMWA. ECF No. 1, ¶ 29.
23, 2018, the Court conditionally certified a collective
action with the following collective action class
Each hourly-paid employee who worked for Magnolia Flooring
Mill, LLC (“Magnolia Flooring”), since December
15, 2014, and to whom Magnolia Flooring paid a bonus pursuant
to any bonus plan in at least one week in which the employee
worked more than forty hours.
22, pp. 7-8. Nine individuals opted into the collective
action. The Court was subsequently informed that
this matter had been settled except for the amount of
attorneys' fees to be awarded to Plaintiff's counsel.
The parties have now submitted their proposed terms of
settlement to the Court for approval and have, further,
submitted the issue of attorneys' fees and costs to the
Court for decision.
Court will first address the parties' Joint Motion for
Stipulated Collective Action Settlement and Settlement
Approval and then turn to Plaintiff's Motion for Costs
and Attorneys' Fees.
Joint Motion for Stipulated Collective Action Settlement and
instant motion, the parties jointly move the Court to: (1)
certify a FLSA settlement class; (2) appoint Josh Sanford and
Josh West of Sanford Law Firm, PLLC, as group counsel; (3)
approve the parties' Settlement Agreement and Settlement
Notice; and (4) thereafter dismiss this matter with
begin, the Court may only approve the proffered settlement
agreement if it arises from adversarial litigation that
involves a bona fide dispute and the proposed settlement is
fair and equitable to all parties. Lynn's Food
Stores, Inc. v. U.S., 679 F.2d 1350, 1353 n.8. (11th
determining whether a proposed settlement is fair, courts:
may consider . . . the stage of the litigation and the amount
of discovery exchanged, the experience of counsel, the
probability of success on the merits, any
‘overreaching' by the employer in the settlement
negotiations, and whether the settlement was the product of
arm's length negotiations between the parties based on
the merits of the case.
Martinez v. Bost, Inc., No. 2:14-CV-02090, 2017 WL
6008048, at *2 (W.D. Ark., March 7, 2017) (citing
Carrillo v. Dandan Inc., 51 F.Supp.3d 124, 132-33
(D.D.C. 2014) (taking into account the “totality of the
circumstances” to determine the fairness of an FLSA
parties assert that “[a] bona fide dispute exists
between [the parties] as to the period in which the alleged
nondiscretionary bonus program operated, whether the bonus
program was nondiscretionary, and whether Defendant acted
willfully.” ECF No. 44, p. 3. The Court finds the
parties' argument persuasive and agrees that a bona fide
Court now turns to the question of whether the proposed
settlement is fair. Upon consideration, the Court finds that
the settlement is fair. In coming to this conclusion, the
Court notes that this matter is well developed and that, at
the time of settlement, the trial date was imminent.
Moreover, there does not appear to be any overreaching by
Defendant, as the terms of the settlement appear just and,
further, Plaintiff is represented by counsel that is
experienced in the litigation of wage and hour matters.
Likewise, the Court notes that the opt-in plaintiffs will
each recover both unpaid overtime as well as liquidated
damages. The parties contend that this amount will fully
compensate the opt-in plaintiffs and is “at least what
they would likely recover at trial in a best-case
scenario.” ECF No. 44, p. 4. Taking these facts and
arguments together, it appears that the ...