United States District Court, D. Maryland
JAMAR HACKETT, et al. Plaintiffs
ADF RESTAURANT INVESTMENTS, et al. Defendants
J. MESSITTE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Hackett, on behalf of himself and other similarly situated
individuals, has brought suit against ADF Restaurant
Investments, LLP, ADF Midatlantic, LLC, ADF Pizza I, LLC, and
ADF Pizza II, LLC, (“Defendants”), alleging
violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act
(“FLSA”), 29 U.S.C. §§ 201, et
seq. The Court conditionally certified the case as a
collective action under the FLSA for potential settlement
purposes. ECF No. 33. Hackett and Defendants have now reached
a settlement and ask the Court to approve it and dismiss with
prejudice all claims in the Amended Complaint, ECF No. 35.
reasons that follow, the Court GRANTS the Plaintiffs'
Unopposed Motion to Approve Collective Action Settlement, ECF
No. 84. The Court also GRANTS Plaintiffs' Application for
Fees and Costs, ECF No. 85, and DISMISSES WITH PREJUDICE all
counts of the Amended Complaint as to all Defendants. ECF No.
and Procedural Background
together operate approximately 200 Pizza Hut franchise stores
in Maryland, Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania,
Virginia, West Virginia and Washington, D.C. They employ
delivery drivers who use their own cars to deliver pizza and
other food items to customers. From February 2010 to May
2013, Jamar Hackett was a delivery driver at a Pizza Hut in
Clinton, Maryland, which was owned by Defendants. The Amended
Complaint alleges that Hackett and other delivery drivers
employed by Defendants, were reimbursed on a per mile basis
for the use of their personal automobiles at a rate far below
a fair approximation of the cost of using their cars.
alleges that he was paid $7.25 per hour, including at some
points in his employment, tips. Since the Federal minimum
wage was $7.25 per hour during the entire period of his
employment, Hackett alleges that his and his colleagues'
unreimbursed business expenses caused their compensation to
fall below the minimum wage.
filed his Complaint on June 10, 2015. ECF No. 1. On October
16, 2015, the parties filed a joint motion asking the Court
to grant conditional certification of the case as a
collective action for possible settlement purposes, ECF No.
30. On October 21, 2015, the Court granted their joint
motion. ECF No. 33. Hackett then filed an Amended Complaint
on October 26, 2015. ECF No. 35. Defendants filed an Answer
on November 12, 2015. ECF No. 36.
hundred forty-nine (349) delivery drivers opted in to assert
their claims in this case (hereinafter
“Plaintiffs”). Counsel then mediated the dispute
before the Hon. Arthur Boylan (ret.), a retired United States
Magistrate Judge of the U.S. District Court for the District
of Minnesota. After a full day of arms-length negotiations,
the mediator made a settlement proposal, to which the parties
eventually assented after a week of deliberation.
two telephone conferences with the Court, Plaintiffs then
filed an Unopposed Motion to Approve Collective Action
Settlement, ECF No. 84. Plaintiffs also filed an Application
for Fees and Costs, ECF No. 85.
evaluating the adequacy of settlements in FLSA cases and
protecting the public interest, the Court plays a
particularly important role. It must take care to ascertain
and carefully examine the terms of the proposed settlement.
This includes ensuring that the key terms of the proposed
settlement are transparently communicated to the members of
the collective action and that they are given a fair
opportunity to object.
Court notes that each Plaintiff in this case was notified of
the terms of the settlement, their particular award, and was
given an opportunity to object. The deadline for any
objection was set as December 12, 2016. That date has now
passed and no objections have been received.
settlement does not contain provisions requiring its terms to
be kept confidential nor has any request been made to seal
the Plaintiffs' Unopposed Motion to Approve Collective
Action Settlement. The Court is fully in accord with Judge
John W. Lungstrum of the U.S. District Court for the District
of Kansas who held in a wage and hour case, also brought by
Pizza Hut delivery drivers, that “there is broad
consensus that FLSA settlement agreements should not be kept
confidential and the court will not approve an agreement that
prohibits and penalizes class members for sharing information
about the settlement with others.” Stubrud v.
Daland Corp., No. JWL-14-2252, 2015 WL 5093250
(D. Kan. Aug. 28, 2015). See also Carpenter v. Colonial
Mgmt. Grp., LP, No. JKB-12-686, 2012 WL 2992490, at *2
(D. Md. July 19, 2012)(“[t]he Court holds that this
confidentiality provision in this FLSA settlement agreement
contravenes the important purposes of the Act and defeats
both public and private efforts to enforce it”).
basic terms of the proposed settlement are these: The period
covered by the agreement is June 10, 2012 - June 10, 2015,
plus claims that accrued before that time but were tolled. A
total of up to $452, 700.00 will be distributed to Plaintiffs
in this case. Each Plaintiff's compensation is calculated
according to the number of deliveries they undertook during
the covered period, reimbursed at a rate of $.56 per mile,
and assumes that deliveries were an average of five miles. An
individual's actual award is reduced by the prior
reimbursements received by a Plaintiff and the amount that a
Plaintiff has already earned that exceeds the minimum wage.
Individual awards are further adjusted so that each Plaintiff
receives a proportional amount of the award fund. Awards to
Plaintiffs range from $25.00 to $15, 424.72. The median
recovery is $500.75. Defendants concede no wrongdoing.