United States District Court, S.D. Texas, Corpus Christi Division
ORDER DENYING MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
GONZALES RAMOS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Victor Morgan (Morgan) filed this action against his former
employer, Yellowjacket Oilfield Services, LLC (YJOS),
alleging violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) for
failure to pay overtime compensation for all hours worked
over 40 in a workweek. Before the Court is YJOS's Motion
for Summary Judgment on Release Issue (D.E. 14), claiming
that Morgan previously settled and released his FLSA claim in
connection with another case against YJOS: Juarez vs.
Yellowjacket Oilfield Services, LLC, No. 2-15-cv-329
(S.D. Tex. October 31, 2016) (Ramos, J.) (Juarez).
Also before the Court are Morgan's response (D.E. 15),
YJOS's reply (D.E. 18), and each party's supplemental
brief on the ratification and tender-back rule (D.E. 27, 30).
For the reasons set out below, the motion for summary
judgment (D.E. 14) is DENIED.
and Filing of Juarez and Morgan
employed Morgan as a mixing plant operator from April 10 to
June 13, 2014. D.E. 14-1. According to YJOS, he worked a
total of six days in the field during that time. Id.
Morgan claims 40 to 60 hours of unpaid overtime. D.E. 15, p.
9. On July 31, 2015, co-worker Jonathan Juarez filed his FLSA
case against YJOS as a collective action. D.E. 14-2. While
the Juarez case was pending, on April 19, 2016,
Morgan filed this case in his individual capacity only. D.E.
after Morgan initiated this case, on April 25, 2016, the
parties in Juarez filed a motion for a stipulated
judgment based upon a settlement agreement, which this Court
approved the same day. D.E. 14-3. See also,
Juarez, D.E. 36. Pursuant to the Juarez
agreement, a settlement class was formed that included Morgan
within its scope, should Morgan agree to opt in. D.E. 25.
Putative members of the settlement class were to be given the
option of joining in the settlement through a notice and
claim form. If they agreed, they would receive a payment
calculated pursuant to the negotiated, agreed-upon, and
court-approved formula. Id.
of the Morgan Action.
lawsuit was served upon YJOS after the Juarez
settlement was approved. On May 20, 2016, YJOS filed its
answer in Morgan's case, which was silent on any issue
related to a settlement, accord and satisfaction, or release.
There is no evidence that Morgan's counsel was aware of
any settlement of the Juarez case or that the scope
of its settlement class included Morgan.
Solicits Morgan's Settlement Through
without YJOS's knowledge of Morgan's pending
litigation, the third-party claims administrator for the
Juarez settlement, ILYM Group, Inc. (ILYM),
proceeded with settlement administration. While the specific
date is not clear from the record, ILYM sent a notice of
settlement to YJOS's employees, including Morgan,
sometime before June 1, 2016. D.E. 18, pp. 24, 29. The notice
of settlement-which had been submitted to the Juarez
Court for approval and bore the Juarez case
caption-informed employees that a settlement had been reached
on FLSA claims, that the Court had approved the settlement,
and that the employees were entitled to participate as
“class members.” Id.
notice stated that recipients had two options: “(1)
participate in the Settlement and receive a Settlement
Payment by returning a Settlement Claim Form; (2) do nothing
and receive no compensation.” Id., p. 25.
Attached to the notice of settlement was a settlement claim
form. Id., p. 22. The settlement claim form told
employees their estimated settlement amount and that by
signing and dating the form, they would become eligible to
receive payment. Id. Further, it stated that by
signing, an employee agreed to “waive, release, and
discharge any and all claims . . . including but not limited
to . . . relief arising under the FLSA.” Id.,
p. 23. Employees that signed agreed “to be bound by the
judgment entered in this case” and affirmed that they
were “consenting to joining the above-captioned
lawsuit.” Id. They were instructed that, if
they had questions, they should contact ILYM or “Class
Counsel”-attorneys for plaintiffs in the
Juarez action. D.E. 14-4, p. 6.
has demonstrated that as of June 1, 2016, it received a
settlement claim form, bearing a signature that purports to
be that of Victor Morgan and which YJOS attests matches
Morgan's signature on other YJOS employee paperwork. D.E.
14-4, p. 6; D.E. 15-2; D.E. 18, p. 30. Morgan denies that he
received the settlement notice and signed any claim form.
D.E. 15-2. However, it is undisputed that his attorney had no
contemporary notice of the solicitation of Morgan's
settlement through the Juarez case. D.E. 15-1.