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The proposed deal contains “prohibited” incentive awards and an invalid modification provision, but is otherwise fair and reasonable, Magistrate Judge David A. Baker of the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida said Wednesday.
The settlement provides $10,000 payments for each of the three named plaintiffs, purportedly in exchange for the general release of any future claims. But it appears that the payments “are truly for Named Plaintiffs’ time and to reward them for bringing this litigation,” Baker said.
The payments give the named plaintiffs “preferred treatment” over the other FLSA collective members, and the parties are unable to articulate what, if any, future claims they might have, Baker said. As such, they qualify as incentive awards, which are prohibited in the Eleventh Circuit, he said.
The deal also allowed the parties to amend or modify its terms after it’s approved, but they agreed at a recent hearing that any changes would be subject to court approval, Baker noted.
Baker signed off on other aspects of the deal, including the amounts allocated to the drivers and their attorneys. Under the deal, the drivers would split $955,700, with each receiving about $50, and their attorneys would receive $490,000 in fees and $24,300 in costs.
The drivers collectively sued Amazon and third-party delivery service providers JSTC LLC, AG Plus Express LLC, Commercial Express Inc., Drop a Box Inc., and COEI LLC for FLSA overtime violations in 2019.
Berger Montague PC; Lichten & Liss-Riordan PC; Varnell & Warwick PA; and Willig, Williams & Davidson represent the drivers. Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP represents Amazon. Wilson McCoy PA represents JTSC. Williams, Parker, Harrison, Dietz & Getzen represents AG Plus, Commercial Express, Drop a Box, and COEI.
The case is Thomas v. Amazon.com Servs., Inc., 2022 BL 79585, M.D. Fla., No. 6:19-cv-1528-RBD-GJK, 3/9/22.