United States District Court, W.D. Oklahoma
LUIS MARTINEZ, individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated, Plaintiff,
DEVON ENERGY PRODUCTION CO., L.P., Defendant.
CHARLES B. GOODWIN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
before the Court is the parties' Joint Motion to Approve
FLSA Settlement (Doc. No. 43), which was filed under
Luis Martinez brought this action against Defendant Devon
Energy Production Co., L.P., seeking relief under the Federal
Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”), 29 U.S.C. §
201 et seq. See Compl. (Doc. No. 1). In his
collective action complaint filed on March 30, 2017,
Plaintiff alleged that Defendant had misclassified him and
other similarly situated safety consultants as
“independent contractors” and had paid them on a
“day-rate system.” See id. ¶ 8.
Plaintiff complained that although he and the other safety
consultants regularly worked in excess of 40 hours each
workweek, they “did not receive any pay for hours
worked over 40 hours each week.” Id. ¶
denied Plaintiff's allegations and raised several
affirmative defenses. See Def.'s Answer (Doc.
No. 20). Defendant asserted that Plaintiff and other
similarly situated workers were properly classified as
independent contractors and, therefore, were not entitled to
overtime compensation. Defendant alleged in the alternative
that safety consultants were statutorily exempt from overtime
October 10, 2017, the Court granted the parties' Amended
Joint Motion for Conditional Certification pursuant to §
216(b). See Order Approving Cond. Certif. of Oct.
10, 2017 (Doc. No. 28). Notice was given to putative class
members,  and three individuals-Beverly D. Rivers,
as executrix of the Estate of Gary Rivers, Thomas J.
Champagne, and Blaine Dupont-executed a “Consent to
Join Wage Claim Lawsuit Against Devon, ” see
Docs. Nos. 31-1, 32-1, 33-1,  and joined Martinez as
Court's approval of the parties' settlement agreement
is necessary to effectuate the FLSA's purpose: “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)
(footnote omitted). See Christopher v. SmithKline Beecham
Corp., 567 U.S. 142, 147 (2012) (“Congress enacted
the FLSA in 1938 with the goal of ‘protect[ing] all
covered workers from substandard wages and oppressive working
hours.'”) (quotation and further citation omitted).
parties' settlement, as reflected in the Settlement
Agreement and Release (“Settlement Agreement”)
filed under seal, see Joint Mot. Ex. 1 (Doc. No.
43-1), was negotiated at arms-length with the assistance of
competent and experienced counsel. It is a fair, equitable,
and reasonable resolution of a bona fide dispute between the
Settlement Agreement includes payment of Plaintiffs'
damages, attorney fees, and out-of-pocket litigation expenses
(“Gross Settlement Fund”). See id. The
settlement amount allocated to Plaintiffs is the total amount
remaining after deductions from the Gross Settlement Fund for
attorney fees and expenses (“Net Allocation
Fund”). See id. The parties have agreed to a
pro rata allocation of the Net Allocation Fund. See
id. Settlement allocations are based on Plaintiffs'
counsel's calculations and, in accordance with the
Settlement Agreement, are to be distributed to Plaintiffs 30
days after the date of this Order. See id.
FLSA provides that the Court “shall . . . allow
[plaintiff] a reasonable attorney's fee to be paid by the
defendant, and costs of the action.” 29 U.S.C. §
216(b). See Garcia v. Tyson Foods, Inc., 770 F.3d
1300, 1308 (10th Cir. 2014); Tabb v. Mentor Prot. Serv.
LLC, No. CIV-17-1139-D, 2018 WL 5269828 *1 (W.D. Okla.
Oct. 23, 2018). Although the fee is mandatory, the Court has
discretion to determine the reasonableness of the amount
requested. See Olivo v. Crawford Chevrolet Inc., 526
Fed. App'x 852, 855 (10th Cir. 2013); Tabb, 2018
WL 5269828 *1.
review of the record and extant case law, the Court finds
that the percentage of the Gross Settlement Fund allocated to
attorney fees is within the customary fee range approved by
courts in this circuit and that the amount requested is fair
and reasonable under the circumstances. See,
e.g., Ostrander v. Customer Eng'g Servs.,
LLC, 2019 WL 764570 *6 (D. Colo. Feb. 21, 2019)
(“‘fees have ranged from 4 per cent to 58 per
cent'” of settlement fund); Davis v.
Crilly, 292 F.Supp.3d 1167, 1174 (D. Colo. 2018) (award
equal to 37% of gross settlement amount “well within
the normal range for a contingent fee award”);
Koehler v. Freightquote.com, Inc., 2016 WL 3743098
*7 (D. Kan. July 13, 2016) (approving fee award ...