District Judge P. Kevin Castel

 

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Attorney Hassan represented Seck in negotiating a purported settlement of Seck’s FLSA claims against defendants. After filing his “Notice of Voluntary Discontinuance Without Prejudice” Seck complained he was not paid monies promised him under the settlement, under which Seck would be paid $12,000 and Hassan would be paid $13,000 in attorneys’ fees. Seck’s “dismissal without prejudice” was coupled with “overbroad and circular” settlement agreement terms preventing Seck from ever asserting his FLSA claim. The court vacated its Dec. 15, 2016 order approving the “Notice of Voluntary Discontinuance Without Prejudice,” concluding that settlement of an FLSA action accomplished though a unilateral dismissal of the complaint by plaintiff is not exempt from review pursuant to Cheeks v. Freeport Pancake House Inc., 796 F.3d 199. In addition to finding the scope of the subject release to be deceptive conduct in the context of Cheeks, the court found that Hassan’s fee—challenged by Seck—amounted to 52 percent of the overall settlement. Cheeks cited to undocumented fee awards between 40 and 43.6 percent of the total settlement as an example of the “potential for abuse” in FLSA settlements warranting review for reasonableness.

District Judge P. Kevin Castel

 

Read Full- Text Decision

Attorney Hassan represented Seck in negotiating a purported settlement of Seck’s FLSA claims against defendants. After filing his “Notice of Voluntary Discontinuance Without Prejudice” Seck complained he was not paid monies promised him under the settlement, under which Seck would be paid $12,000 and Hassan would be paid $13,000 in attorneys’ fees. Seck’s “dismissal without prejudice” was coupled with “overbroad and circular” settlement agreement terms preventing Seck from ever asserting his FLSA claim. The court vacated its Dec. 15, 2016 order approving the “Notice of Voluntary Discontinuance Without Prejudice,” concluding that settlement of an FLSA action accomplished though a unilateral dismissal of the complaint by plaintiff is not exempt from review pursuant to Cheeks v. Freeport Pancake House Inc. , 796 F.3d 199 . In addition to finding the scope of the subject release to be deceptive conduct in the context of Cheeks, the court found that Hassan’s fee—challenged by Seck—amounted to 52 percent of the overall settlement. Cheeks cited to undocumented fee awards between 40 and 43.6 percent of the total settlement as an example of the “potential for abuse” in FLSA settlements warranting review for reasonableness.