United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
MICHAEL B. NORTH, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
the Court is the motion for attorneys' fees filed by
Plaintiff, Maria Galeas (“Galeas”). (Rec. doc.
27). Galeas sued the Defendants, Staff Pro, LLC (“Staff
Pro”) and Marriott Hotel Services, Inc.
(“Marriott”) on January 3, 2018, claiming
underpayment of regular and overtime wages in violation of
the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”), 29 U.S.C.
§§ 207 and 206. (Rec. doc. 1). She settled her
claims against both Defendants for $1, 500 during a
settlement conference held on June 1, 2018. (Rec. doc. 25). The matter
of her entitlement to attorneys' fees was reserved for
determination by the Court. (Id.). The District
Judge referred that question to the undersigned, and I have
received briefing and held a hearing on Galeas' motion.
(Rec. docs. 29, 30, 39, 40).
LAW AND ANALYSIS
initial Complaint, Galeas alleged (among other things) that:
Defendants regularly fail to pay Plaintiff for all hours she
worked in a work week. On average, Defendants fail to pay
Plaintiff for at least four hours of regular and/or overtime
hours per week.
Defendants willfully violated Plaintiff's rights under
the FLSA because Defendants knew or showed reckless disregard
for the fact that their compensation practices violated the
FLSA. Defendants were and are aware of the custom and
practice of overtime pay from their experience and expertise
in the industry in which they work.
(Rec. doc. 1 at p. 4).
also alleged that the Defendants were joint employers and
sought the certification of a class:
consisting of all current and former employees of the
Defendants who are or have been employed by Defendants during
the three years immediately preceding the filing of this suit
as hourly or non-exempt employees and who, during that
period, failed to receive compensation for all regular and/or
overtime hours worked in a work week.
(Id. at p. 5).
behalf of herself and the alleged “FLSA Class, ”
Plaintiff prayed that the Court issue an order:
a. Certifying this case as a collective action under 29
U.S.C. § 216(b) and ordering that notice of the lawsuit
be issued in an effective manner to the FLSA Class so that
similarly situated employees may promptly file consent forms
and join this action, 29 U.S.C. § 216(b);
b. Entering judgment in the amount of all unpaid regular and
overtime wages due and owing to the Plaintiff as well as all
applicable liquidated damages;
c. Declaring that Defendants' conduct violated the FLSA;
d. Enjoining Defendants from violating the FLSA's
overtime and minimum wage provisions;
e. Awarding Plaintiff her reasonable attorneys' fees and
costs of this action;
f. Awarding pre-judgment and post-judgment interest on all
monetary amounts awarded in this action; and
g. Awarding such other general and equitable relief as this
Court deems equitable and just.
(Id. at p. 6).
speaking, Galeas achieved none of these objectives.
Rather, she settled her case for $1, 500 at a settlement
conference presided over by the undersigned that took less
than two hours to complete. The path to that settlement included no
written discovery requests or responses, no depositions, the
production of no admissible evidence supporting any claim, no
motion practice, and no effort to conditionally certify a
collective class. Really, no substantive work was
undertaken by Plaintiff's counsel over the case's
six-month lifespan, save for attendance at a couple of de
rigueur status conferences, which fortunately resulted
in the District Judge ordering the parties to attend our
single settlement conference, during which the case was
nature of that settlement agreement was memorialized
jointly by the parties in their “Motion to
Approve FLSA Settlement”:
Defendants deny the allegations in the Lawsuit and deny all
liability and damages of any kind to anyone with respect to
the alleged facts or causes of action asserted in the
Lawsuit; nonetheless, without admitting or conceding any
liability or damages, and solely to avoid the burden, expense
and uncertainty of continuing to litigate Plaintiff's
claims, the Parties have agreed to settle Plaintiff's
claims in the Lawsuit on the terms and conditions set forth
in a Settlement Agreement and Release of Claims
(“Settlement Agreement”) signed by all parties on
August 15, 2018.
(Rec. doc. 41-1). This verbiage is entirely consistent with
Defendants' argument in their opposition to the present
motion that they agreed to the $1, 500 settlement largely
(a) They did not have to admit liability [because neither was
(b) Galeas, through Applicant, agreed to completely release
any and all claims that were or could have been brought
arising out of her employment;
(c) Galeas, through Applicant, promised confidentiality;
(d) Galeas, through Applicant, promised not to seek
(e) Galeas, through Applicant, agreed to dismiss the above
(Rec doc. 30 at pp. 1-2).
point to these facts as support for their argument that
Galeas should not be considered a prevailing party, despite
having received a monetary settlement. In the alternative,
they argue that any fee award should be ...