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Sarceno v. Choi

United States District Court, D. Columbia.

January 29, 2015

LUIS SARCENO, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
KWAN S. CHOI, et al., Defendants

For LUIS SARCENO, RUDY GODOY, MIGUEL ANGEL IRAHETA, OMAR VASQUEZ, EBER ESTRADA FLORES, Plaintiffs: Daniel Adlai Katz, LAW OFFICES OF GARY M. GILBERT AND ASSOCIATES, P.C., Silver Spring, MD; Laura E. Varela-Addeo, THE LAW OFFICES OF GARY M. GILBERT & ASSOCIATES, Silver Spring, MD.

For KWAN S. CHOI, HWAN P. EUN, Defendants: Charles H. Henderson, LEAD ATTORNEY, PRO HAC VICE, MCNAMEE, HOSEA, JERNIGAN, KIM, GREENAN & LYNCH, P.A., Greenbelt, MD; Meredith R. Philipp, LEAD ATTORNEY, McNamee Hosea, et al., Greenbelt, MD; Robert James Kim,, LEAD ATTORNEY, MCNAMEE, HOSEA, JERNIGAN, KIM, GREENAN & WALKER, P.A., Greenbelt, MD.

For BYUNG CHOI, Defendant: BYUNG CHOI, PYOUNG R. CHOI, Defendants: Jennifer A. Brust, Jennifer A. Harper, Juanita Fitchett Ferguson, LEAD ATTORNEYS, BEAN, KINNEY & KORMAN, P.C., Arlington, VA.

Page 447

MEMORANDUM OPINION

BERYL A. HOWELL, United States District Judge.

Pending before the Court are joint motions to approve settlement agreements in this Fair Labor Standards Act (the " FLSA" ), 29 U.S.C. § 201 et seq., suit between the plaintiffs, Luis Sarceno, Rudy Godoy, Miguel Iraheta, Omar Vasquez, and Eber Flores (collectively, " the plaintiffs" ), and the defendants, Byung Choi, Pyoung Choi, Kwan Choi, and Hwan Eun (collectively, " the defendants" ).[1] Joint Motion to Approve Settlement Agreement (the " Choi and Choi Mot." ), ECF No. 37; Joint Motion to Approve Settlement Agreement (the " Choi and Eun Mot." ), ECF No. 38. For the reasons stated below, the motions are granted in part.

I. BACKGROUND

The underlying facts in this matter are fully set out in a prior Memorandum Opinion denying the defendants' motions for summary judgment and will not be repeated in detail here. See Sarceno v. Choi, No. 13-1271, 66 F.Supp.3d 157, 2014 WL 4380680, at *2-5 (D.D.C. Sept. 5, 2014). Briefly, the plaintiffs were all employees at the defendants' supermarket between 2004 and 2012. Choi and

Page 448

Choi Mot. ¶ 2; Choi and Eun Mot. ¶ 2. During that time period, the plaintiffs allege that they were not paid for all of the hours they worked and were not paid overtime for the hours they worked that exceeded forty hours in a week. Choi and Choi Mot. ¶ 3; Choi and Eun Mot. ¶ 3. The defendants contest the plaintiffs' allegations, stating that the plaintiffs have been paid all wages due. Choi and Choi Mot. ¶ 4; Choi and Eun Mot. ¶ 4.

The plaintiffs filed suit on August 20, 2013, Compl. at 1, ECF No. 1, and the parties subsequently engaged in settlement discussions supervised by a Magistrate Judge, Minute Order, Dec. 5, 2013. The parties were unable to reach agreement and the defendants filed motions for dismissal on the grounds that the plaintiffs' claims were barred by purported settlement agreements, which had been executed by the plaintiffs before the initiation of the pending action and before the plaintiffs had obtained the assistance of counsel.[2] Sarceno, 2014 WL 4380680, at *6. This Court denied the defendants' motions and held that the purported settlement agreements were unenforceable at a hearing on August 6, 2014. Id.

Following the denial of the summary judgment motions, the parties engaged in further settlement negotiations, conducted through counsel, while simultaneously engaging in discovery and motions practice. Choi and Choi Mot. ¶ ¶ 26-27; Choi and Eun Mot. ¶ ¶ 26-27. These negotiations resulted in the two settlement agreements for which the parties now seek the Court's imprimatur.

The two motions and the settlement agreements to which the motions refer are identical in all material respects, except for the defendants involved and the amounts paid to the individual plaintiffs. See generally Choi and Choi Mot.; Choi and Eun Mot. Specifically, one proposed settlement agreement is between the plaintiffs and Defendants Byung Choi and Pyoung Choi and the other proposed settlement agreement is between the plaintiffs and Defendants Kwan Choi and Hwan Eun. Under the agreements, Plaintiff Sarceno would receive a total of $13,781.25, comprised of $2,880.00 from Byung Choi and Pyoung Choi and $10,901.25 from Kwan Choi and Hwan Eun; Plaintiff Godoy would receive a total of $19,293.75, comprised of $4,032 from Byung Choi and Pyoung Choi and $15,261.75 from Kwan Choi and Hwan Eun; Plaintiff Iraheta would receive a total of $21,131.25, comprised of $4,416.00 from Byung Choi and Pyoung Choi and $16,715.25 from Kwan Choi and Hwan Eun; Plaintiff Vasquez would receive a total of $16537.50, comprised of $3,456.00 from Byung Choi and Pyoung Choi and $13,081.50 from Kwan Choi and Hwan Eun; and Plaintiff Flores would receive a total of $21,131.25, comprised of $4,416.00 from Byung Choi and Pyoung Choi and $16,715.25 from Kwan Choi and Hwan Eun. Choi and Choi Mot. ¶ ¶ 13-17; Choi and Eun Mot. ¶ ¶ 13-17. The parties stipulate that these amounts, ...


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