United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division
L. Pryor United States Magistrate Judge
matter comes before the Court on the Defendants' Verified
Motion for Relief from Judgment (Dkt. 69). The Plaintiff
filed a response on June 3, 2019. The Motion was referred to
the Undersigned for ruling and, for the reasons set forth
below, is hereby DENIED.
Flowers's Complaint alleges that Defendants, SteerPoint
Marketing, LLC and John Slimak (“SteerPoint”)
failed to pay him overtime wages pursuant to the Fair Labor
Standards Act (“FLSA”), Indiana's Minimum
Wage Statute, and Indiana's Wage Claims Statute. [Dkt.
1.] The parties participated in a settlement conference on
December 28, 2018, which was unsuccessful. [Dkt. 44.] After
the settlement conference, the parties conducted further
discovery and continued to discuss settlement options. [Dkt.
57 ¶¶ 2-4.] On April 1, 2019, SteerPoint submitted
a written settlement offer to Mr. Flowers, via email, of $25,
000. [Dkt. 57 ¶ 4.] The written offer captioned
“Defendants' Offer of Judgment” and signed by
defense counsel, states in full:
Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 68, Defendants
SteerPoint Marketing, LLC and John Slimak, by counsel, hereby
offer to allow the Plaintiff to take a judgment against them
in the amount of Twenty-five Thousand Dollars ($25, 000.00).
(“April 1 Offer”) [Dkt. 57-2.]
receiving the April 1 offer, Mr. Flowers's counsel
emailed SteerPoint's counsel to discuss the terms. The
parties' respective counsel had a telephonic conversation
on April 3, 2019, wherein SteerPoint's counsel indicated
that the April 1 Offer was intended to include all costs,
expenses, and attorney fees. Mr. Flowers's counsel
responded that he believed Rule 68 allowed Mr. Flowers to
recover attorney fees in addition to the $25, 000 Offer of
Judgment. [See Dkt. 57-3.]
after the April 3, 2019 phone conversation at 3:52 p.m.,
SteerPoint's counsel emailed Mr. Flowers's counsel to
confirm their position that the April 1 Offer was intended to
be inclusive of all costs, expenses, and attorney fees. [Dkt.
57-3.] Five minutes later at 3:57 p.m., SteerPoint's
counsel emailed to Mr. Flowers's counsel
“Defendants' Amended Offer of Judgment” that
offered Mr. Flowers $25, 000 and expressly stated the offer
included attorney fees, costs and all expenses (“April
3 Offer”). [Dkt. 57 at ¶ 6.] Fourteen minutes
later at 4:11 p.m., Mr. Flowers filed his “Notice of
Acceptance of Offer of Judgment” with this Court, which
purported to accept the April 1 Offer. [Dkt. 51.]
2, 2019, the Court determined that Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 68 did not allow alterations, modifications, or
clarifications to offers of judgment and that it did not have
the discretion to alter or modify the parties' agreement.
[Dkt. 61 at 5-6.] Accordingly, the Court entered judgment in
favor of Mr. Flowers in the amount of $25, 000. [Dkt. 61 at
6.] SteerPoint now seeks relief from that judgment pursuant
to Rule 60. (Dkt. 69). The parties presented oral argument
before the Undersigned on August 2, 2019.
Offer of Judgment
Rule of Civil Procedure 68 permits a defending party to
“serve on an opposing party an offer to allow judgment
on specified terms.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 68(a). The offer does
not need to be filed with the court at the time of service.
See Id. The offeree then has 14 days to accept or
reject the offer. Id. If the offeree accepts the
offer by written notice, “either party may then file
the offer and notice of acceptance, plus proof of service.
The clerk must then enter judgment.” Id. If
the offeree rejects the offer of judgment and “the
judgment that the offeree finally obtains is not more
favorable than the unaccepted offer, the offeree must pay the
costs incurred after the offer was made. Id.
purpose of Rule 68 is to encourage settlements and it favors
neither plaintiffs nor defendants. Marek v. Chesny,
473 U.S. 1, 5-6, 10 (1985). But, Rule 68 offers of judgment
carry serious legal consequences for those who reject them.
See Webb v. James, 147 F.3d 617, 621 (7th Cir.
1998); Nordby v. Anchor Hocking Packaging
Co., 199 F.3d 390, 392 (7th Cir. 1999); Sanchez v.
Prudential Pizza, Inc., 709 F.3d 689, 692 (7th Cir.
of these consequences, Rule 68 has spawned a body of case law
which guides the Court's analysis. In Marek v.
Chesny, the Supreme Court considered the requirements of
a valid Rule 68 offer. Marek, ...