Nall v. Mal-Motels, Inc.

723 F.3d 1304 (2013)

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Nall v. Mal-Motels, Inc.

United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit
723 F.3d 1304 (2013)


In August 2008, Candace Nall (plaintiff) began working as a front-desk clerk and night auditor for Mal-Motels, Inc. (defendant). Nall initially recorded her work hours using a time clock. However, in December 2008, Mal-Motels’ owner, Mohammad Malik (defendant), told Nall to stop using the time clock. Nall began verbally reporting her hours to Malik, and Malik called the hours in to a company that issued Nall a paycheck based on Malik’s report. As a result, no written records existed for the hours that Nall had actually worked. In early 2010, Nall retained an attorney and filed a lawsuit in federal district court against Mal-Motels and Malik, alleging violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Nall claimed she had periodically worked over 40 hours per week without receiving overtime pay. Nall sought $3,780 in unpaid overtime and $3,780 in liquidated damages under an FLSA provision authorizing double damages in unpaid-overtime cases. Mal-Motels admitted that Nall had not been paid for all of the overtime, but Mal-Motels disputed the amount owed. In May 2010, Malik and Nall met without any attorneys present to discuss settling Nall’s lawsuit. Malik offered Nall at least $1,000 to sign two documents. Nall did not read the documents, but Malik explained the documents to her. Nall needed the money, so she signed the documents, which were (1) a voluntary dismissal of the action and (2) a letter to Nall’s attorney indicating that the case had been settled. Although someone filed the voluntary-dismissal document with the court, the court refused to dismiss Nall’s complaint because Nall had not received permission to appear in the action without her attorney. Malik subsequently moved to enforce the settlement agreement. Nall’s attorney objected, asserting that the settlement was not fair and reasonable. A federal magistrate judge recommended that the district court approve the settlement, concluding that Nall and Malik had reached a fair resolution of their dispute. Nall objected to the magistrate judge’s recommendation, but the district court accepted the recommendation, approved the settlement, and dismissed Nall’s complaint. Nall appealed.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Carnes, J.)

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