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Blake v. Supreme Service & Specialty Co., Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana

April 26, 2017

MICHAEL BLAKE, INDIVIDUALLY AND ON BEHALF OF ALL OTHERS SIMILARLY SITUATED Plaintiffs,
v.
SUPREME SERVICE & SPECIALTY COMPANY, INC.

         SECTION: E

          WILKINSON MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

          ORDER AND OPINION

          HON. SUSAN MORGAN DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Before the Court is the Joint Motion to Approve Settlement filed by Defendant Supreme Service & Specialty Co., Inc. and Plaintiffs Michael Blake, Junuis Bonvillain, Jerome Galloway, Ryan Holford, Carroll Lawson, Damien McDowell, Dustin Miller, Vincent Soto, and Jason Bradley Wagner in this Fair Labor Standards Act lawsuit. For the reasons stated below, the motion is GRANTED.

         Case Overview and Settlement Terms

         Michael Blake filed this lawsuit on July 13, 2016. [Doc. 1] He contended that Supreme Service paid him and other similarly-situated oil field service workers a fixed salary plus a non-discretionary bonus but did not pay overtime for all hours worked over 40 in a workweek. [Doc. 1 ¶1.2] The claims raised in this lawsuit are identical to those asserted against Supreme Service in a prior Fair Labor Standards Act action styled Kervin et al. vs. Supreme Service & Specialty Co., Inc., Case No. 2:15-cv-01172-SM-KWR (the “Kervin lawsuit”) which settled in June 2016.

         Supreme Service asserted the statute of limitations as an affirmative defense in its Answer. [Doc. 23] Supreme Service also filed a motion for summary judgment on this issue. [Doc. 25] Supreme Service argued Plaintiffs' lack evidence of “willfulness” sufficient to apply the FLSA's three-year statute of limitations. [Doc. 25] Supreme Service also asserted that all or some of the Plaintiffs were exempt from the FLSA's overtime obligations, e.g., under the Motor Carrier Exemption and the “executive exemption.” [Doc. 23]

         By agreement, a putative class of plaintiffs was conditionally certified in this lawsuit shortly after the case was filed. [Docs. 27, 28] Several additional plaintiffs joined the lawsuit at various times, some before the Court's conditional certification order and some afterwards. One plaintiff (Richard Schrock) was dismissed because the parties agreed his claim was time-barred by the FLSA's three-year statute of limitations. [Docs. 52, 54] Another plaintiff (Forrest Lovelady) voluntarily withdrew to pursue his own action. [Doc. 50] Supreme Service then settled with 17 Plaintiffs whose claims Supreme Service contended were barred by the FLSA's two-year statute of limitations, and these individuals were dismissed. [Docs. 53, 53-1, 55] As part of that settlement, the parties agreed to defer the issue of potential attorneys' fees and costs recoverable for the entire lawsuit for later settlement discussion or resolution by the Court.

         Each side to this dispute believes that the evidence and testimony will indisputably support their respective claims. But the parties recognize and acknowledge that the expense in time and money of litigation, the uncertainty and risk of litigation, as well as the difficulties and delays inherent in such litigation make settlement of this matter a mutually appealing resolution.

         Supreme Service and these nine remaining plaintiffs have now informed the Court concerning a settlement of all remaining claims. The parties report their calculation method for determining overtime pay and liquidated damages was similar to the method used when the parties resolved the Kervin lawsuit. The parties maintain this settlement is fair and reasonable resolution of a bona fide FLSA dispute. The attorneys for both parties are quite experienced in wage and hour litigation. They reviewed the evidence and the applicable law and have concluded that settlement of these claims is in the best interest all parties. They have recommended this settlement to their clients as a reasonable compromise of all the disputed issues of law and fact, and the parties agree.

         The Court acknowledges the parties' position that the settlement is a compromise of disputed claims and is not to be deemed as an admission of fault or liability by Supreme Service. The settlement is intended to be a total resolution and complete satisfaction of any and all claims and allegations by these nine Plaintiffs against Supreme Service known or unknown which are or could have been asserted in this action. After approval of the settlement, the parties consent to dismissal of this lawsuit with prejudice.

         The parties have agreed that, once the settlement is approved, Supreme Service will pay the following amounts of overtime and liquidated damages to the Plaintiffs:

Last Name

First Name

OT

LD

Blake

Michael

$18, 000

$8, 000

Bonvillain

Junuis

$3, 250

$1, 600

Galloway

Jerome

$4, 470

$2, 000

Holford

Ryan

$6, 560

$3, 200

Lawson

Carroll

$6, 400

$3, 200

McDowell

Damien

$5, 230

$2, 550

Miller

Dustin

$1, 500

$900

Soto

Vincent

$2, 600

$1, 300

Wagner

Jason Bradley

$5, 950

$3, 455

         Plaintiffs will provide Supreme Service executed W-4 tax forms listing their correct current mailing addresses and tax withholdings. Supreme Service will determine any taxes due on the overtime payments. No taxes will be deducted from the liquidated damages amounts. Supreme Service will mail the settlement checks and W-2 forms to the Plaintiffs' mailing addresses on those W-4 forms or any such different addresses provided by Anderson2X, PLLC. Settlement checks will be sent by first class United States mail within twenty (20) business days after this Court's order approving the settlement and dismissing these nine Plaintiffs. If any checks are returned undeliverable with no forwarding address, Supreme Service will attempt to locate an alternative address using a “skip trace” service and will mail the checks to the alternative address, if any. If any check cannot be delivered in this manner or remains uncashed within six months after date of mailing, Supreme Service may void the check and ...


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