Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Davis v. Crilly

United States District Court, D. Colorado

February 22, 2018

DARRELL DAVIS, individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated, STEVEN SULLIVAN, individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated, and JONATHON MALONE, individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated, VICTOR AMADOR, individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated Plaintiffs,
v.
PAUL CRILLY, WARREN ZEMLAK, and DARIN MACDONALD, Defendants.

          ORDER APPROVING FLSA SETTLEMENT AND DISMISSING THIS CASE

          CHRISTINE M. ARGUELLO UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter is before the Court on Plaintiffs' Second Unopposed Motion for Approval of FLSA Settlement and Stipulation of Dismissal of Settled Claims. (Doc. # 128.) For the following reasons, the Court grants the motion, approves the Settlement Agreement (Doc. # 128-4), and dismisses this case.

         I. BACKGROUND

         This case commenced in September 2015, when Plaintiff Darell Davis filed his original Complaint alleging violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) against his employer Sanjel USA Inc. (Doc. # 1.) In May 2016, this Court issued an order staying and administratively closing this case pursuant to Sanjel's Notice of Bankruptcy and the automatic stay requirements. (Doc. # 55.) In August 2016, Plaintiff Davis filed a notice with this Court that the case was subject to reopening based on an order from the Bankruptcy Court granting him relief from the automatic stay. (Doc. # 56.) Once reopened, Plaintiff Davis amended his Complaint to add two new Plaintiffs (Steven Sullivan and Jonathon Malone) and three new Defendants: Paul Crilly, Chief Financial Officer of Sanjel; Warren Zemlak, Chief Operating Officer of Sanjel; and Dain MacDonald, the Chief Executive Officer, President, and Secretary of Sanjel (Defendants, collectively). (Doc. # 60-1.) Sanjel was dismissed from the action. (Doc. # 66.) A fourth Plaintiff, Victor Amador, was added thereafter. (Doc. # 117.)

         Meanwhile, numerous other Sanjel employees learned of this lawsuit. No conditional certification was ever requested from or approved by this Court, and no formal notice ever circulated. Yet, numerous employees opted into the collective action, signing and submitting their consents to join. (Doc. ## 72-73, 84, 94-97, 102, 112.) Each one has also consented to the Named Plaintiffs representing their interests in this proceeding. (Id.) To date, 178 Plaintiffs have opted-into this action. (Doc. # 128 at 2.)

         Over the course of the past year and half, numerous negotiations have taken place between the Parties, including a formal mediation and an attempted approval of at least one prior settlement agreement. Those negotiations ultimately culminated in the instant Settlement, which involves all 178 Plaintiffs (Settling Plaintiffs) (Doc. ## 128-1, 128-2, 128-3), all Defendants, and will accordingly result in a dismissal of all claims in this case.

         II. SETTLEMENT APPROVAL

         In a suit by employees against their employer to recover back wages under the FLSA, the parties must present any proposed settlement to the district court for review and a determination of whether the settlement agreement is fair and reasonable. See Lynn's Food Stores, Inc. v. United States, 679 F.2d 1350, 1353 (11th Cir. 1982). Requiring court approval of FLSA settlements effectuates the purpose of the statute, which is to “protect certain groups of the population from substandard wages and excessive hours... due to the unequal bargaining power as between employer and employee.” Brooklyn Sav. Bank v. O'Neil, 324 U.S. 697, 706 (1945).

         In order to approve a settlement prior to a final collective action ruling, “the Court must make some final class certification finding.” Rios v. Midwest Partitions, Inc., No. 15-CV-01456-PAB-MEH, 2016 WL 7212480, at *2 (D. Colo. Dec. 13, 2016)(citing Whittington v. Taco Bell of Am., Inc., No. 10-cv-01884-KMT-MEH, 2013 WL 6022972, at *2 (D. Colo. Nov. 13, 2013)). The Court must then review the proposed settlement to ensure (1) the litigation involves a bona fide dispute, (2) the proposed settlement is fair and equitable to all parties concerned, and (3) the proposed settlement contains a reasonable award of attorneys' fees. Lynn's Food Stores, 679 F.2d at 1354.

         A. FINAL CERTIFICATION

         As mentioned, there was no conditional certification or notice stage in this case. The Parties now request that this Court now certify two classes of employees under the FLSA for settlement purposes only: a Fluctuating Workweek (FWW) Class and a Caterina Class (Settlement Classes, collectively). Having thoroughly reviewed the Parties' briefing and attached exhibits, the Court finds that final certification of these Settlement Classes for purposes of this Settlement only is warranted. The Court notes however that conditional certification is an important step in the FLSA collective action process that is meant to ensure all prospective class members have the opportunity to participate. Nonetheless, given the procedural protections discussed below and the limited scope of the Parties' proposed Settlement, the Court finds that final certification absent the typical conditional certification stage is warranted here.

         Final certification for settlement purposes requires the Court to determine whether the settlement class members are similarly situated. Thiessen v. GE Capital Corp., 267 F.3d 1095, 1105 (10th Cir. 2001). Doing so generally requires consideration of several factors, including (1) the disparate factual and employment settings of individual plaintiffs; (2) various defenses available to defendant which appear to be individual to each plaintiff; and (3) fairness and procedural considerations. See id.

         The FWW Class consists of employees who were all paid under the same fluctuating workweek scheme that included overtime compensation. They allege that various prerequisites of the fluctuating workweek scheme were not satisfied, defendants made improper deductions, and plaintiffs received compensation that was inconsistent with the “fixed salary” component of this scheme. (Doc. # 128 at 9.) The Caterina Class consists of employees who were paid hourly with overtime but who allege that their regular rate of pay was improperly calculated and they were required to perform off-the-clock work. (Id.). The employees in both Settlement Classes were all manual laborers who worked at oil and gas wells across the United States. (Id. at 13-14.)

         According to a financial consultant who analyzed the pay and time data in this case, the members of each Settlement Class were all subject to the same pay practices and their overtime was similarly miscalculated. (Id. at 15-16.) The Court finds that ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.