United States District Court, D. New Mexico
ORDER GRANTING MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION
GREGORY B. WORMUTH, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
MATTER comes before the Court on Plaintiffs' Motion for
Reconsideration of Amended Stipulated Judgment. Doc.
88. For the reasons that follow, the Court will GRANT
parties to this FLSA collective action attended a settlement
conference before the undersigned on March 1, 2018, during
which they reached a settlement agreement. Doc. 81.
As recited on the record at the close of the conference, the
agreement resolved all claims of the named Plaintiffs and the
claims of the similarly situated potential plaintiffs
entitled to notice pursuant to 29 U.S.C. § 216(b) in
exchange for a payment by Defendant to the class of $19, 855,
and a payment by Defendant to counsel for attorney's fees
and costs of $31, 500. See Id. (cite to recording).
The distribution among the class and to the class
representatives was left to Plaintiffs' counsel utilizing
the information provided by Defendant based on the 5-minute
calculation of underpayment. Id. It was further
agreed that half of the payment to the class would be subject
to tax withholding as a payment of wages, and the remaining
half would not as it would represent liquidated damages.
Id. It was also agreed that all unclaimed settlement
amounts would revert to Defendant. Subsequently, counsel
agreed to the following distribution of the settlement
18 Dispatch Operator Class Members:
$7, 098.90 (average recovery of
2 Named Plaintiffs:
Gross Receipts Tax (7.5%):
84 at 2.
parties sought Court approval of the settlement agreement on
April 3, 2018. Doc. 83. They filed an Amended Joint
Motion to Approve Settlement the following day, on April 4,
2018, which the Court granted in part on April 20, 2018.
Docs. 84, 85. The Motion was denied in part, because
the Court amended the parties' Stipulated Judgment to
eliminate the bonus payments of $6, 600 each to the only
remaining named Plaintiffs in this matter, Martha S. Jimenez
and Amanda Vogelsang-Wolf. Doc. 85 at 2. Instead,
the Court directed that $20, 298.90 (the $7, 098.90
designated for the Dispatch Operator Class Members plus the
$13, 200 designated as bonus payments per the agreement) be
distributed proportionately to “the 20 class members,
based on their work performed, in the amounts shown in [the
chart attached as Exhibit B to the parties' Amended
Motion].” Id. The terms of the settlement
agreement were otherwise left intact. See generally docs.
filed the instant Motion for Reconsideration on May 4,
Doc. 88. While Plaintiffs assert that the Motion is
brought pursuant to both Rules 59 and 60, the Court will
treat it as a Rule 59(e) motion because it was filed less
than 28 days after the Court's entry of the amended
Stipulated Judgment (doc. 85) and involves
reconsideration of matters properly encompassed in a decision
on the merits. See New Mexico v. Valley Meat Co.,
LLC, 2015 WL 9703255 at *9 (D.N.M. Dec. 14, 2015)
Motion, Plaintiffs request relief from the judgment as
entered on two separate bases. First, they argue that
incentive payments are proper generally and in the specific
circumstances of this case. Second, they argue that the
Court's amendments to the parties' Stipulated
Judgment render the terms of the agreement impracticable.
See doc. 88 at 2. Having conducted a thorough review
of the terms at issue, the Court agrees on both points.
The Judgment is Impracticable as Written
amended Stipulated Judgment entered by the Court orders
distribution of the settlement funds among “20 class
members.” See doc. 85 at 2. The Court
determined the relevant recipients of the settlement funds by
adding named Plaintiff Vogelsang- Wolf to the nineteen
dispatchers-including named Plaintiff Jimenez-listed on the
chart attached as Exhibit B to the parties' Amended
Motion to Approve Settlement, which provides damages
calculations for putative members of the Dispatch Operator
class. Doc. 84-2; see also doc. 85 at 2. That
determination by the Court raises two problems for the
parties in executing the judgment. First, Plaintiff
Vogelsang-Wolf was formerly the class representative for the
Detention Officer class, whose claims were extinguished at
the summary judgment stage by this Court and were not revived
on appeal to the Tenth Circuit. See docs. 67, 76-1.
Second, while the Dispatch Operator class successfully
appealed this Court's grant of summary judgment to
Defendants on their FLSA claims, see docs. 66, 76-1,
only eighteen of the nineteen dispatchers listed on the chart
are members of the certified Dispatch Operator class. The
outlier, Villnavia Harmon, did not work during the relevant
class certification time period of September 15, 2012 to
September 15, 2015, and is therefore not entitled to any
portion of the settlement funds. See doc. 88 at 8;
doc. 84-2. In addition to the named Plaintiffs, only
seventeen potential plaintiffs in the Dispatch Operator class
will receive notice that they are eligible to participate in
this settlement. Doc. 84 at 5. In other words, there
are only eighteen members of the Dispatch Operator class,
 and only
nineteen total existing and potential Plaintiffs eligible to
receive any settlement funds, making the Court's final
judgment referring to “20 class members”
impossible to execute as written.
course, such a minor clerical error could readily be
corrected pursuant to Rule 60(a), by amending the judgment to
order proportional distribution of the settlement funds
amongst the eighteen class members included in the Dispatch
Operator class plus Plaintiff Vogelsang-Wolf (rather than
among “the 20 class members”). See Fed.
R. Civ. P. 60(a). However, the Court also agrees that the
bargained-for bonus payments to the named Plaintiffs in this
case are appropriate under the circumstances and should not
have been eliminated from the terms of the agreement. For the
reasons that follow, the Court will thus grant relief from
the final judgment insofar as it nullified the parties'
agreement that class representatives Jimenez and
Vogelsang-Wolf receive bonus payments of $6, 600
Bonus Payments are Appropriate in the ...