This case was last updated from Los Angeles County Superior Courts on 03/07/2019 at 22:29:07 (UTC).

KORRI TORRES VS WALGREEN PHARMACY SERVICES MIDWEST, LLC

Case Summary

On 11/21/2017 KORRI TORRES filed a Labor - Other Labor lawsuit against WALGREEN PHARMACY SERVICES MIDWEST, LLC. This case was filed in Los Angeles County Superior Courts, Pomona Courthouse South located in Los Angeles, California. The Judges overseeing this case are OKI, DAN THOMAS and GLORIA WHITE-BROWN. The case status is Pending - Other Pending.

Case Details Parties Documents Dockets

 

Case Details

  • Case Number:

    ****9819

  • Filing Date:

    11/21/2017

  • Case Status:

    Pending - Other Pending

  • Case Type:

    Labor - Other Labor

  • Court:

    Los Angeles County Superior Courts

  • Courthouse:

    Pomona Courthouse South

  • County, State:

    Los Angeles, California

Judge Details

Presiding Judges

OKI, DAN THOMAS

GLORIA WHITE-BROWN

 

Party Details

Plaintiff

TORRES KORRI

Defendants

WALGREENS PHARMACY SERVICES MIDWEST LLC

WALGREEN PHARMACY SERVICES MIDWEST LLC

Attorney/Law Firm Details

Plaintiff Attorneys

GAINES KENNETH S.

GAINES KENNETH STEVEN

Defendant Attorneys

YAMINI ESQ. LIAT L.

YAMINI LIAT LEAH

 

Court Documents

Summons

11/21/2017: Summons

Complaint

11/21/2017: Complaint

Unknown

12/1/2017: Unknown

Unknown

12/27/2017: Unknown

Unknown

4/2/2018: Unknown

Unknown

4/2/2018: Unknown

Case Management Statement

4/2/2018: Case Management Statement

Minute Order

4/25/2018: Minute Order

Unknown

9/5/2018: Unknown

Case Management Statement

9/5/2018: Case Management Statement

Case Management Statement

9/5/2018: Case Management Statement

Minute Order

10/17/2018: Minute Order

Case Management Statement

11/29/2018: Case Management Statement

Minute Order

12/5/2018: Minute Order

Unknown

12/5/2018: Unknown

Notice

1/7/2019: Notice

Case Management Statement

2/19/2019: Case Management Statement

Minute Order

3/1/2019: Minute Order

15 More Documents Available

 

Docket Entries

  • 03/01/2019
  • at 08:30 AM in Department J, Gloria White-Brown, Presiding; Case Management Conference - Held

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  • 03/01/2019
  • at 08:30 AM in Department J, Gloria White-Brown, Presiding; Order to Show Cause Re: (name extension) (reTransfer of case as class action) - Held

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  • 03/01/2019
  • Minute Order ( (Case Management Conference; Order to Show Cause Re: re: Trans...)); Filed by Clerk

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  • 02/19/2019
  • Case Management Statement; Filed by Korri Torres (Plaintiff); Walgreen Pharmacy Services Midwest, LLC (Defendant)

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  • 01/07/2019
  • Notice (name extension) (Notice of Case Reassignment and Order for Plaintiff to Give Notice); Filed by Korri Torres (Plaintiff)

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  • 12/19/2018
  • Notice of Case Reassignment and Order for Plaintiff to Give Notice; Filed by Clerk

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  • 12/17/2018
  • at 08:30 AM in Department J, Gloria White-Brown, Presiding; Case Management Conference - Held - Continued

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  • 12/17/2018
  • Minute Order ((Case Management Conference)); Filed by Clerk

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  • 12/10/2018
  • Notice (name extension) (Notice of Entry of Judgment or Order); Filed by Korri Torres (Plaintiff)

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  • 12/05/2018
  • at 08:30 AM in Department J, Gloria White-Brown, Presiding; Non-Appearance Case Review

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17 More Docket Entries
  • 04/02/2018
  • Case Management Statement; Filed by Korri Torres (Plaintiff)

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  • 04/02/2018
  • Notice; Filed by Korri Torres (Plaintiff)

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  • 01/10/2018
  • Answer; Filed by Walgreen Pharmacy Services Midwest, LLC (Defendant)

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  • 12/27/2017
  • Notice; Filed by Korri Torres (Plaintiff)

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  • 12/01/2017
  • Rtn of Service of Summons & Compl; Filed by Korri Torres (Plaintiff)

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  • 11/30/2017
  • Notice of Case Management Conference; Filed by Clerk

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  • 11/21/2017
  • Civil Case Cover Sheet; Filed by Korri Torres (Plaintiff)

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  • 11/21/2017
  • Complaint; Filed by Korri Torres (Plaintiff)

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  • 11/21/2017
  • Summons (on Complaint); Filed by Clerk

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  • 11/21/2017
  • Notice of Case Assignment - Unlimited Civil Case; Filed by Clerk

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Tentative Rulings

Case Number: KC069819    Hearing Date: January 17, 2020    Dept: J

HEARING DATE: Friday, January 17, 2020

NOTICE: OK

RE: Torres v. Walgreen Pharmacy Services Midwest, LLC (KC069819) [AMENDED]

______________________________________________________________________________

Plaintiff Korri Torres’ MOTION FOR FINAL APPROVAL OF CLASS ACTION

SETTLEMENT

Responding Party: None (unopposed, as of 1/14/20)

Tentative Ruling

Plaintiff Korri Torres’ unopposed Motion for Final Approval of Class Action Settlement is GRANTED.

Background

On November 21, 2017, Plaintiff Korri Torres, on behalf of himself and all aggrieved employees pursuant to Labor Code § 2698, et seq. (“Plaintiff”), filed a Representative Action Complaint for Civil Penalties Pursuant to Labor Code § 2699(f) for Violations of Labor Code § 204 and Pursuant to Labor Code §2699(a) for Violations of Labor Code §210 against Defendants Walgreen Pharmacy Services Midwest, LLC, (“Defendant”) and Does 1-10.

On August 22, 2019, the court granted Plaintiff’s unopposed Motion for Preliminary Approval of Class Action Settlement and Leave to File First Amended Complaint. On August 29, 2019, Plaintiff filed a First Amended Class and Representative Action Complaint for:

  1. Knowing and Intentional Failure to Comply with Itemized Employee Wage Statement Provisions (Labor Code § 226(a),(e))

  2. Penalties Pursuant to Labor Code § 2699(f) for Violations of Labor Code §§ 204 and 226(a) and Labor Code § 2699(a) for Violations of Labor Code § 210

An Order to Show Cause Re: Settlement is set for January 17, 2020.

Legal Standard

California Rules of Court (“CRC”) Rule 3.769(g) provides that the court must conduct an inquiry into the fairness of a proposed class action settlement prior to final approval. The trial court has broad powers to determine whether a proposed settlement is fair. (Mallick v. Superior Court (1979) 89 Cal.App.3d 434, 438.) The standard for approval of class settlements in California is that the settlement be fair, reasonable, and adequate for class members overall. (Dunk v. Ford Motor Co. (1996) 48 Cal.App.4th 1794, 1801.)

Discussion

By this motion, Plaintiff and the settlement class (“Class Members”) seek final approval of the Joint Stipulation of Class and Representative PAGA Action Settlement and Release (“Settlement Agreement”) entered into between Plaintiff, individually and on behalf of all “aggrieved employees” pursuant to Labor Code § 2698 et seq., on the one hand, and Defendant, on the other hand.

Plaintiff has settled the released claims of the Class Members (preliminarily certified for settlement purposes only and defined as “all current and former bi-weekly paid non-exempt California employees of Walgreen Pharmacy Services Midwest, LLC between September 13, 2016 and December 31, 2018, including those individuals in the following job titles: CPHT – California Certified Pharm. Tech, DH – Designated Hitter, DHC – Certified Designated Hitter, HCS – Health Care Supervisor, PCPH – Staff Pharmacist, PHC – Pharmacy Cashier, PHI1 – Pharmacy Intern 1, PHI2 – Pharmacy Intern 2, PHI4 – Pharmacy Intern 4, PHI5 – Pharmacy Intern 5, PHIG – Pharmacy Intern, PHIP – Pharmacy Intern Graduate, PHT – Drug Store Pharmacy technician, PHTB – Certified Pharmacy Technician Bedside Delivery, PHTC – Certified Drug Store Pharmacy Technician, PHTY – Pharmacy Typist, RMOH – Registered Store Manager On-Site Pharmacy Hourly, RMTH – Temporary Pharmacy Manager, RPH – Pharmacist Hourly Drug Store, RPMH – Pharmacist, Multi Loc, Assigned Hourly, RPNH – Pharmacist Nights Hourly, RPR – Regis Pharmacist Multiple Locations-NonSpec, RPRH – Pharmacist, Multi Loc, Unassigned Hourly, RPSH – Hourly Pharmacist – California, RPX – Extraboard Pharmacist Non-Exempt Multi-Loc Non, RXA – Assistant Pharmacy Manager, RXMH – Manager Pharmacy Department Hourly, RXOH – Pharmacy Manager On-Site Pharmacy Hourly, SP6 – Salaried Pharmacist, SP13 – Summer Pharmacy Intern Year 3, SPI4 – Summer Pharmacy Intern Year 4m SPI5 – Summer Pharmacy Intern Year 5, SPI6 – Summer Pharmacy Intern Year 6, SPTC – Certified Sr. Pharmacy Technician, and TSTC – Traveling Senior Technician Certified”) for a Gross Settlement of $1,250,000.00.

Procedural Issues

Plaintiff’s motion reflects non-compliance with CRC Rule 3.1113(d) (i.e., “[e]xcept in a summary judgment or summary adjudication motion, no opening or responding memorandum may exceed 15 pages. . .”) The court has no record of Plaintiff requesting leave to file a memorandum in excess of 15 pages, as required by subsection (e). Counsel is admonished in this regard and instructed to comply with the Rules of Court in any future filings.

Notice, Opt-Outs and Recovery under Settlement

The parties engaged ILYM Group, Inc. (“ILYM”) as Settlement Administrator.

On October 11, 2019, ILYM mailed Notice packets containing the notice of the terms of the settlement, including the terms relating to attorneys’ fees and costs, to all 10,536 Class Members contained in the Class List via First Class mail. (Molina Decl., ¶¶5 and 7, Exh. A.) Of the Notices that were mailed, 341 were returned. A computerized skip trace was performed on all 341 returned notices, and 243 Notices were re-mailed after this process. (Id., ¶¶8 and 9.) Ultimately, 98 Notice packets were undeliverable. (Id., ¶10.)

The Class Notice advised Class Members that they could submit an objection to the settlement or request an exclusion by December 10, 2019. (Id., ¶7, Exh. A.) Only three Class Members have opted out, and no Class Member has submitted an objection to the settlement. (Id., ¶¶10-11.) ILYM reports a total of 10,533 participating settlement Class Members, representing 99.97% of the Settlement Class. (Id., ¶13.)

The average settlement payment is approximately $43.94. (Id., ¶14.) The highest settlement share to be paid is approximately $87.11. (Id.)

Evaluation of Settlement

Before granting final approval, the court must evaluate the fairness of the proposed settlement and independently assess the reasonableness of the settlement’s terms. (CRC Rule 3.769(g); Kullar v. Foot Locker Retail, Inc. (2008) 168 Cal.App.4th 116, 130, 133.) “The burden is on the proponent of the settlement to show that it is fair and reasonable.” (Wershba v. Apple Computer, Inc. (2001) 91 Cal.App.4th 224, 245 [disapproved on other grounds by Hernandez v. Restoration Hardware, Inc. (2018) 4 Cal.5th 260].)

“[A] presumption of fairness exist where: (1) the settlement is reached through arm’s-length bargaining; (2) investigation and discovery are sufficient to allow counsel and the court to act intelligently; (3) counsel is experienced in similar litigation; and (4) the percentage of objectors is small.” (Dunk v. Ford Motor Co. (1996) 48 Cal.App.4th 1794, 1802.) “[T]he test is not the maximum amount plaintiffs might have obtained at trial on the complaint, but rather whether the settlement is reasonable under all of the circumstances.” (Wershba, supra, 91 Cal.App.4th at 250.)

In making this determination, the court considers all relevant factors, “such as the strength of plaintiffs’ case, the risk, expense, complexity and likely duration of further litigation, the risk of maintaining class action status through trial, the amount offered in settlement, the extent of discovery completed and the stage of the proceedings, the experience and views of counsel, the presence of a governmental participant, and the reaction of the class members to the proposed settlement. The list of factors is not exclusive and the court is free to engage in a balancing and weighing of factors depending on the circumstances of each case.” (Id. at 1801.) The court “bears the responsibility to ensure that the recovery represents a reasonable compromise, given the magnitude and apparent merit of the claims being released, discounted by the risks and expenses of attempting to establish and collect on those claims by pursuing the litigation.” (Kullar v. Foot Locker Retail, Inc. (2008) 168 Cal.App.4th 116, 129.) Of the relevant factors, the most important is the strength of the plaintiff’s case on the merits, balanced against the amount offered in settlement.” (Id. at 130.)

The court already determined on Plaintiff’s motion for preliminary approval of class settlement that many of the factors established that the settlement is fair (e.g., the parties participated in arms’-length negotiations concerning settlement, the parties actively litigated and participated in the exchange of extensive informal discovery, and the amount offered in settlement via-a-via the strength of Plaintiff’s case and the risk associated with further litigation).

Based on the foregoing, and based on the reasoning set forth in the court’s order granting preliminary approval of the class action settlement, court finds that Plaintiff has established that the settlement is fair, adequate, and reasonable. There being no objections to the settlement., the court determines that it is appropriate to approve it. The court also approved conditional certification of the class for purposes of settlement in its order granting preliminary approval of the settlement, and because Plaintiff submits that no subsequent events have cast any doubt on the court’s preliminary determination, the court finds it appropriate to certify the class for settlement purposes.

Attorney’s Fees and Costs

CRC Rule 3.769(b) provides: “Any agreement, express or implied, that has been entered into with respect to the payment of attorney’s fees or the submission of an application for the approval of attorney’s fees must be set forth in full in any application for approval of the dismissal or settlement of an action that has been certified as a class action.” An award of attorneys fees is made by the court at the fairness hearing. (Lafitte v. Robert Half Intern., Inc. (2016) 1 Cal.5th 480.) Despite any agreement by the parties to the contrary, “the court ha[s] an independent right and responsibility to review the attorney fee provision of the settlement agreement and award only so much as it determine[s] reasonable.” (Garabedian v. Los Angeles Cellular Telephone Co. (2004) 118 Cal.App.4th 123, 128.)

Enhancements

The Settlement Agreement provides for an enhancement award of up to $10,000.00 for Plaintiff, as the named plaintiff. The court already determined on Plaintiff’s motion for preliminary approval of class settlement that the proposed enhancement was fair and reasonable compensation. Plaintiff, moreover, has submitted a declaration attesting as to why he should be entitled to an enhancement award in the proposed amount of $10,000.00.

Plaintiff attests that he has spent approximately 25 hours assisting counsel with the preparation of this case, including doing work and analysis independent from counsel both before and during this case. (Torres Decl., ¶7.) Before this litigation commenced, Plaintiff expended approximately 10 hours gathering, organizing, and reviewing documents and information for this lawsuit. (Id., ¶8.) Plaintiff spent time through numerous phone calls with counsel explaining Defendant’s policies and procedures and how they were applied to Defendant’s California employees. (Id., ¶6.) Plaintiff communicated with counsel several times per month to track the case status and participated in settlement negotiations. (Id., ¶10.) The court finds that Plaintiff’s declaration is sufficient to establish that the service award to him is fair and reasonable and finds it appropriate to approve the award as such.

Claims Administrator Costs

The court finds that the request for costs for ILYM in the amount of $38,000.00 is sufficiently supported by the Declaration of Stephanie Molina. (Molina Decl., ¶15.)

PAGA Settlement

The Settlement Agreement provides for payment to the Labor and Workforce Development Agency from the Gross Fund Value in the amount of $312,500.00 as its 75% share of PAGA penalties. The court already determined on Plaintiff’s motion for preliminary approval of class settlement that the settlement amount for PAGA was substantial and fair. Further, the PAGA penalties as a percentage of the settlement range is consistent with other hybrid class/PAGA settlements approved by California courts. (Nordstrom Commission Cases, supra, 186 Cal.App.4th at 579 [“trial court did not abuse its discretion in approving a settlement which does not allocate any damages to the PAGA claims”].)

Attorneys’ Fees

 

CRC Rule 3.769(b) provides: “Any agreement, express or implied, that has been entered into with respect to the payment of attorney’s fees or the submission of an application for the approval of attorney’s fees must be set forth in full in any application for approval of the dismissal or settlement of an action that has been certified as a class action.” An award of attorneys fees is made by the court at the fairness hearing. (Lafitte v. Robert Half Intern., Inc. (2016) 1 Cal.5th 480.) Despite any agreement by the parties to the contrary, “the court ha[s] an independent right and responsibility to review the attorney fee provision of the settlement agreement and award only so much as it determine[s] reasonable.” (Garabedian v. Los Angeles Cellular Telephone Co. (2004) 118 Cal.App.4th 123, 128.)

 

“[W]hen a number of persons are entitled in common to a specific fund, and an action brought by a plaintiff or plaintiffs for the benefit of all results in the creation or preservation of that fund, such plaintiff or plaintiffs may be awarded attorney’s fees out of the fund.” (Serrano v. Priest (1977) 20 Cal.3d 25, 34.) “[W]hen class action litigation establishes a monetary fund for the benefit of the class members, and the trial court in its equitable powers awards class counsel a fee out of that fund, the court may determine the amount of a reasonable fee by choosing an appropriate percentage of the fund created.” (Laffitte v. Robert Half Internat. Inc. (2016) 1 Cal.5th 480, 495.) “The choice of a fee calculation method is generally one within the discretion of the trial court, the goal under either the percentage of lodestar approach being the award of a reasonable fee to compensate counsel for their efforts.” (Id. at 504.)

The requested attorneys’ fee award is 1/3 of the settlement amount. The court finds that the request for attorneys’ fees for Plaintiff’s counsel in the amount of $416,666.67 is sufficiently supported by the Declarations of Alex Katofsky (“Katofsky”) and Daniel Gaines (“Gaines”). The amount requested in costs, $7,691.80, is less than the $10,000.00 maximum cost allocation stipulated to by the parties in settlement. (Gaines Decl., ¶76, Exh. F.) Here, no Class Member objected to the settlement, to the attorney fee award based on 1/3 of the settlement award, or the amount allocated to costs.

Conclusion

The court GRANTS Plaintiff’s Motion for Final Approval of Class Action Settlement set forth in the Joint Stipulation of Class and Representative PAGA Action Settlement and Release.