The opinion of the court was delivered by: URBINA
Denying Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment; Denying Plaintiffs' Motion to Dismiss Without Prejudice; and Taking Plaintiffs' Motion for Court Approved Notice to Potential Plaintiffs Under Advisement
After considering the parties' submissions and the governing law the court concludes the following: Defendant's motion for summary judgment shall be denied because an evidentiary hearing must be convened to determine whether or not the parties conduct constitutes a settlement agreement; plaintiffs' motion to dismiss shall be denied without prejudice as its resolution is dependent upon the issue of whether a settlement agreement exists; and plaintiffs' motion to provide notice to potential plalintiffs shall be taken under advisment.
Plaintiffs, Nicolas Quijano and fourteen other similarly situated workers, are present and former employees of defendant, Eagle Maintenance Services. They have filed this action pursuant to the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which requires employers to pay each employee at least 1.5 times the regular pay rate for hours worked in excess of 40 hours a week. 29 U.S.C. § 207 (a)(2). An employer who violates §§ 206 or 207 of the FLSA "shall be liable to the employee or employees affected in the amount of their unpaid minimum wages, or their unpaid over-time compensation -- as the case may be -- and in an additional equal amount as liquidated damages." Id. The statute also provides that "the court in such action shall, in addition to any judgment awarded to the plaintiff or plaintiffs, allow reasonable attorney's fees to be paid by the defendant, and costs of the action." Id. Plaintiffs seek the following relief: overtime wages, liquidated damages and reasonable attorneys' fees.
Prior to filing the complaint, the parties engaged in settlement discussions. These discussions are at the center of the dispute between the parties. Defendant argues, in its motion for summary judgment, that through a series of letters the parties reached a settlement agreement. Plaintiffs, however, disagree. Defendant claims that the attorneys' fees request constitutes plaintiffs' breach of the settlement agreement because this issue was not covered by the purported agreement. Defendant has thus refused to pay the requested fees.
On July 7, 1995, plaintiffs wrote a letter to the defendant delineating the breakdown in negotiations and advised the defendant that they would be filing the present complaint. Defendant then hand-delivered a letter stating that the enclosed pay checks were being tendered to settle the matter based upon defendant's calculations of unpaid wages owed to plaintiffs. Plaintiffs' counsel then immediately returned the checks and filed this action.
III. Motion for Summary Judgment
The question before the court is whether the communications engaged in between the parties constitute a binding settlement agreement. Defendant asserts that plaintiffs offered to settle their claims for the payment of their overtime wages. Defendant claims that plaintiffs' settlement offer is contained in a June 7, 1995 letter.
Defendant further states that a letter dated June 16, 1995 constitutes the defendant's acceptance of plaintiffs' offer.
Defendant claims that plaintiffs subsequently attempted to include attorneys' fees in the purported settlement agreement and in effect sought to enlarge the alleged settlement amount thereby effectuating a breach of the purported agreement.
Defendant has filed a motion for summary judgment claiming that there are no material facts in dispute concerning the purported settlement agreement. The defendant, however, assumes that a settlement agreement exists.
Plaintiffs, on the other hand, assert that no settlement agreement exists. Plaintiffs point to several letters that the parties exchanged subsequent to the June 16, 1995 letter.
Since the defendant is seeking to enforce a purported settlement agreement, the court ...