On 06/13/2017 TYLER JONES filed a Labor - Other Labor lawsuit against CITIGUARD INC. This case was filed in Los Angeles County Superior Courts, Stanley Mosk Courthouse located in Los Angeles, California. The Judges overseeing this case are MAREN E. NELSON and MAREN NELSON. The case status is Pending - Other Pending.
Pending - Other Pending
Los Angeles County Superior Courts
Stanley Mosk Courthouse
Los Angeles, California
MAREN E. NELSON
DOES 1 TO 50
DOES 1 THROUGH 50 INCLUSIVE
MOON KANE ESQ.
FEGHALI ALLEN VICTOR
MARQUEZ JUSTIN F ESQ.
SIDDIQUI OMAR A
JOSEPHSON DANIEL MARCO
2/20/2018: Memorandum of Points & Authorities
4/6/2018: Status Report
9/5/2018: Other -
9/13/2018: Other -
11/5/2018: Minute Order
2/22/2019: Stipulation and Order
3/22/2019: Other -
3/26/2019: Minute Order
3/29/2019: Amendment to Complaint (Fictitious/Incorrect Name)
8/9/2017: Notice of Appearance
8/31/2017: Notice of Change of Address or Other Contact Information
Clerks Certificate of Service By Electronic Service; Filed by ClerkRead MoreRead Less
at 08:30 AM in Department 17, Maren Nelson, Presiding; Hearing on Motion for Preliminary Approval of Settlement - Held - ContinuedRead MoreRead Less
Order (Continuing Motion for Preliminary Approval of Class Action Settlement); Filed by ClerkRead MoreRead Less
Minute Order ( (Hearing on Motion for Preliminary Approval of Settlement)); Filed by ClerkRead MoreRead Less
Declaration (of Allen Feghali In Support of Plaintiffs' Further Briefing on Motion for Preliminary Hearing); Filed by Tyler Jones (Plaintiff); Devin Boyd (Plaintiff)Read MoreRead Less
Second Amended Complaint; Filed by Tyler Jones (Plaintiff); Devin Boyd (Plaintiff)Read MoreRead Less
at 09:00 AM in Department 17, Maren Nelson, Presiding; Hearing on Motion for Preliminary Approval of Settlement - Not Held - Rescheduled by CourtRead MoreRead Less
at 08:30 AM in Department 17, Maren Nelson, Presiding; Hearing on Motion for Preliminary Approval of Settlement - Not Held - Continued - Court's MotionRead MoreRead Less
Minute Order ( (Hearing on Motion for Preliminary Approval of Settlement)); Filed by ClerkRead MoreRead Less
Other - (Checklist Preliminary Approval of Class Action Settlement); Filed by ClerkRead MoreRead Less
Notice; Filed by Tyler Jones (Plaintiff)Read MoreRead Less
at 00:00 AM in Department 307; (Order-Complex Determination; Case Determined to be Complex) -Read MoreRead Less
Order; Filed by CourtRead MoreRead Less
Order INITIAL STATUS CONFERENCE ORDER (COMPLEX CASES AND CLASS ACTIONS)Read MoreRead Less
Minute OrderRead MoreRead Less
Minute order entered: 2017-07-10 00:00:00; Filed by ClerkRead MoreRead Less
Proof of Service of Summons and ComplaintRead MoreRead Less
COMPLAINT FOR: 1. FAILURE TO PROVIDE MEAL PERIODS [CAL. LAB. CODE 226.7, 5121; ETCRead MoreRead Less
SUMMONSRead MoreRead Less
Complaint; Filed by Tyler Jones (Plaintiff)Read MoreRead Less
Case Number: BC664890 Hearing Date: June 24, 2020 Dept: 17
SUPERIOR COURT OF
TYLER JONES and DEVIN BOYD, individually, and on behalf of all others similarly situated,
CITIGUARD, INC., a California Corporation; and DOES 1 through 50, inclusive,
Case No.: BC664890
(TENTATIVE) ORDER GRANTING
MOTION FOR FINAL APPROVAL
OF CLASS ACTION SETTLEMENT
Date: June 24, 2020
Time: 10:30 a.m.
Plaintiffs Tyler Jones and Devin Boyd sue their former employer, Defendant Citiguard, Inc., for alleged wage and hour violations. Defendant is a private security company, primarily catering to schools, commercial buildings, and apartment complexes. Plaintiffs seek to represent a class of Defendant’s current and former Security Officers and Security Guards.
Plaintiff Tyler Jones filed his initial complaint on June 13, 2017. Plaintiff’s operative Second Amended Complaint (“SAC”), filed March 29, 2019, adds Devin Boyd as a named Plaintiff and asserts the following causes of action: (1) Failure to Provide Meal Periods; (2) Failure to Authorize and Permit Rest Breaks; (3) Failure to Pay Minimum and Straight Time Wages; (4) Failure to Pay Overtime Compensation; (5) Failure to Indemnify Employees for Expenditures; (6) Failure to Timely Pay Final Wages at Termination; (7) Failure to Provide Accurate, Itemized Wage Statements; (8) Unfair Business Practices; and (9) Civil Penalties under the Labor Code’s Private Attorney General Act (PAGA0, Labor Code § 2698 et seq.
On October 5, 2018, the Parties participated in a private mediation session with mediator Joel Grossman, Esq. At the mediation, Defendant produced documents relating to their financial condition and ability to pay a judgment. The parties were unable to reach agreement regarding settlement terms. After mediation, the mediator continued to communicate with the parties to settle the case, and on October 12, 2018, all parties accepted the mediator’s proposal. The Parties subsequently executed a long-form Stipulation of Settlement (“Settlement Agreement”), a copy of which was filed with the Court.
On July 15, 2019, following supplemental briefing and revisions to the Settlement Agreement, the Court granted preliminary approval. All references to the Settlement Agreement below are to the amended document filed on June 19, 2019.
Now before the Court is the motion for final approval of the Settlement Agreement.
Having considered the moving papers and the argument of counsel the Court finds final approval may be granted conditioned on plaintiffs’ counsel providing an explanation at oral argument as to why the escalator clause in the Settlement Agreement is not triggered and/or the parties agreeing that the clause was triggered and that the MSA is increased accordingly
A. SETTLEMENT CLASS DEFINITION
For the purposes of settlement only, Plaintiffs and Defendant stipulate to the certification of the following Settlement Class: “All persons who worked for any Defendant as a Security Officer, Security Guard, or similar position in California at any time during the period beginning June 13, 2013 and ending on December 31, 2018 (the “Class Period”).” (Amended Settlement Agreement ¶1)
· There are 598 putative Class Members. (Declaration of Elizabeth Kruckenberg ¶3.)
B. TERMS OF SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT
The essential terms are as follows:
· The Maximum Settlement Amount (“MSA”) is $344,000, non-reversionary. (¶¶ 3, 3.D.)
· Escalator. Defendant represents that there are 587 Settlement Class Members and approximately 21,000 workweeks. Should either the number of Settlement Class Members exceed 587 or the number of workweeks exceed 21,000, Defendant shall increase the MSA in proportion to the increased percentage of Settlement Class Members or workweeks. For example, if there are actually 646 Settlement Class Members and 21,000 workweeks, Defendant shall increase the Maximum Settlement Amount by 10%, which is equal to $34,400.00. (¶3.F) The moving papers do not discuss whether this clause has been triggered. The Declaration of the Settlement Administrator indicates there are 598 putative class members. See Kruckenberg Dec. ¶3The escalator clause in the settlement provides that “should either the number of Settlement Class Members exceed 587 or the number of workweeks exceed 21,000, Defendant shall increase the MSA in proportion to the increased percentage of Settlement Class Members or workweeks.” (¶3.F). Even though the actual number of class members exceeds the estimate by 10, the MSA has not been increased. Counsel shall address same at oral argument.
· The Net Settlement Amount (“Net”) ($183,344.80) is the MSA minus:
o Up to $114,655.20 (33 and 1/3%) for attorney fees (¶3.D.4);
o Up to $12,000 for attorney costs (Ibid.);
o Up to $8,500 for service awards to the class representatives [$5k + $3.5k] (¶3.D.3);
o Estimated $18,000 for claims administration costs (¶3.D.2); and
o Payment of $7,500 (75% of $10,000 PAGA penalty) to the LWDA (¶3.D.5).
· Defendant’s share of employer-side payroll taxes will be paid separately from, and in addition to, the MSA. (¶3.E)
· Payment Plan. The MSA shall be paid in two separate installments, as follows:
o Defendant shall deposit $200,000.00 with the Settlement Administrator within 30 calendar days of Final Approval (¶3.B);
o Defendant shall deposit the remaining $144,000.00 with the Settlement Administrator within 6 months after the initial deposit. (¶3.C)
· Response Deadline. Response Deadline to submit written objections, opt-outs, or disputes to workweeks is the date 60 calendar days after the date of the initial mailing of the Notice Packets (¶¶ 9.C, 9.D, 9.E.) Settlement Class members to whom Notice Packets are re-mailed after having been returned as undeliverable to the Settlement Administrator shall have 21 calendar days from the date of re-mailing, or until the Response Deadline has expired, whichever is later, to submit a Request for Exclusion, Objection, or dispute. Notice Packets that are re-mailed shall inform the recipient of this adjusted deadline. (¶9.F)
· Payments to the Settlement Class. Settlement Class members are not required to submit a claim form to receive a payment (“Settlement Award’) from the Settlement. Settlement Awards will be determined and paid as follows:
o Settlement Class Members will receive their settlement share in two installments proportionate to their share of the net settlement amount that is distributed with each installment (i.e., approximately 57.14% of the net will be available following the first installment. Class Members will therefore receive 57.14% of their settlement share in the first installment and the remainder in the second installment). The first installment will be distributed after Defendant makes its first payment, and the final installment will be distributed after Defendant makes its final payment. (¶4.B; Declaration of Allen Feghali ¶5.)
o Individual settlement payments will be proportionally based on compensable workweeks, which will be calculated by multiplying the Net Settlement Amount by a fraction, the numerator of which is the participating Settlement Class member’s number of Workweeks worked during the Class Period, and the denominator of which is the total number of Workweeks worked by all Settlement Class members who do not opt out of the Settlement during the Class Period. (¶4.C.i)
o PAGA Amount. Each participating Settlement Class member who was employed by Defendant at any time from June 13, 2016 to the end of the Class Period shall receive a portion of the PAGA Amount proportionate to the number of Workweeks that he or she worked during the period of June 13, 2016 to December 31, 2018, which will be calculated by multiplying the PAGA Amount by a fraction, the numerator of which is the participating Settlement Class members’ number of Workweeks worked during the time period from June 13, 2016 to December 31, 2018, and the denominator of which is the total number of Workweeks worked by all Settlement Class members who do not opt out of the Settlement during the time period of June 13, 2016 to December 31, 2018. (¶4.D)
o Tax Treatment and Payment. For tax purposes, Settlement Awards will be allocated as follows: 75% as penalties and interest and 25% as wages. (¶4.F)
· Non-Cashed Settlement Checks. Each member of the Settlement Class who receives a Settlement Award must cash that check within 180 days from the date the Settlement Administrator mails it. All uncashed checks will be treated pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure Section 384 as a cy pres distribution to Legal Aid at Work. The Claims Administrator shall reverse any tax documents issued to Class Members who did not cash their checks and refund the Defendant’s share of employer’s taxes. (¶4.G)
o Unpaid residue (uncashed or returned checks) will be paid, with available interest, to Legal Aid at Work, 180 Montgomery Street, Suite 600, San Francisco, CA 94104. (¶4.G.i)
§ Counsel represent that they have no interest or involvement in the work of the cy pres recipient. (Feghali Decl. ¶7; Declaration of John Lebe ISO Prelim ¶3; Declaration of Daniel Josephson ISO Prelim ¶4.)
o The attorneys for the parties shall file, with the Motion for Final Approval, a stand-alone Stipulation to Amend Judgment and Proposed Stipulated Amended Judgment (Section 384) memorializing the parties’ agreement to amend the judgment to adopt the administrator's determination of the amount of unpaid residue, plus any interest that has accrued thereon from the date of entry of the initial judgment, to be paid to the cy pres. recipient (¶4.G.ii), which judgment shall contain a provision that Plaintiff’s counsel shall provide notice to the Judicial council as required by Code of Civ. Pro. §384. 5,
· Phoenix Settlement Administrators, Inc. will perform settlement administration. (¶3.A)
· The proposed Settlement Agreement was submitted to the LWDA on February 1, 2019. (Moon Decl. at Ex. 4.)
· A copy of the judgement of the action will be included with the settlement checks mailed to class members. (Notice pg. 6.)
· Release by Settlement Class Members. Plaintiffs and every member of the Settlement Class will fully release and discharge Defendant as follows: All class members who do not opt-out will release Defendant from any and all claims asserted or that could have been asserted based on the facts alleged in the operative Class Action Complaint, including but not limited to state wage and hour claims for any and all violations of California’s Labor Code and Unfair Competition Law based on Defendant’s failure to provide meal periods, failure to authorize and permit rest periods, failure to pay for all hours worked (including minimum wages, straight time wages, and overtime wages), failure to indemnify employees for expenditures, failure to timely pay all wages at termination, failure to furnish accurate, itemized wage statements, civil penalties under California’s Private Attorneys General Act of 2004 (“PAGA”) based on the alleged Labor Code violations, and all damages, interest, penalties, attorneys’ fees, costs, and other amounts recoverable under said causes of action under California law, to the extent permissible, including but not limited to the California Labor Code and the applicable Wage Orders (collectively the “Released Claims”). The period of the Release shall extend to the limits of the Class Period. It is the intent of the parties to give the broadest res judicata effect provided by the release. (See Villacres v.ABM Indus. Inc., 189 Cal. App. 4th 562, 117 (2010).) (¶2.A)
o The Releases are not effective until Defendant makes full payment of the Maximum Settlement Amount, $344,000.00. (¶2.B)
o Plaintiffs will additionally provide general releases and Civil Code §1542 waivers. (¶2.C)
C. ANALYSIS OF SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT
1. Standards for Final Fairness Determination
“Before final approval, the court must conduct an inquiry into the fairness of the proposed settlement.” (Cal. Rules of Court, rule 3.769(g).) “If the court approves the settlement agreement after the final approval hearing, the court must make and enter judgment. The judgment must include a provision for the retention of the court's jurisdiction over the parties to enforce the terms of the judgment. The court may not enter an order dismissing the action at the same time as, or after, entry of judgment.” (Cal. Rules of Court, rule 3.769(h).)
“In a class action lawsuit, the court undertakes the responsibility to assess fairness in order to prevent fraud, collusion or unfairness to the class, the settlement or dismissal of a class action. The purpose of the requirement [of court review] is the protection of those class members, including the named plaintiffs, whose rights may not have been given due regard by the negotiating parties.” (See Consumer Advocacy Group, Inc. v. Kintetsu Enterprises of America (2006) 141 Cal. App.4th 46, 60 [internal quotation marks omitted]; see also Wershba v. Apple Computer, Inc. (2001) 91 Cal.App.4th 224, 245 (“Wershba”), disapproved on another ground in Hernandez v. Restoration Hardware (2018) 4 Cal.5th 260 [Court needs to “scrutinize the proposed settlement agreement to the extent necessary to reach a reasoned judgment that the agreement is not the product of fraud or overreaching by, or collusion between, the negotiating parties, and that the settlement, taken as a whole, is fair, reasonable and adequate to all concerned”] [internal quotation marks omitted].)
“The burden is on the proponent of the settlement to show that it is fair and reasonable. However ‘a presumption of fairness exists 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.’” (See Wershba, supra, 91 Cal.App.4th at pg. 245 [citing Dunk v. Ford Motor Co. (1996) 48 Cal.App.4th 1794, 1802. (“Dunk”)].) Notwithstanding an initial presumption of fairness, “the court should not give rubber-stamp approval.” (See Kullar v. Foot Locker Retail, Inc. (2008) 168 Cal.App.4th 116, 130 (“Kullar”).) “Rather, to protect the interests of absent class members, the court must independently and objectively analyze the evidence and circumstances before it in order to determine whether the settlement is in the best interests of those whose claims will be extinguished.” (Ibid.) In that determination, the court should consider 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 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.” (Id. at 128.) “Th[is] 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.” (Wershba supra, 91 Cal.App.4th at pg. 245.)
Nevertheless, “[a] settlement need not obtain 100 percent of the damages sought in order to be fair and reasonable. Compromise is inherent and necessary in the settlement process. Thus, even if ‘the relief afforded by the proposed settlement is substantially narrower than it would be if the suits were to be successfully litigated,’ this is no bar to a class settlement because ‘the public interest may indeed be served by a voluntary settlement in which each side gives ground in the interest of avoiding litigation.’” (Wershba, supra, 91 Cal.App.4th at pg. 250.)
2. Does a presumption of fairness exist?
a. Was the settlement reached through arm’s-length bargaining? Yes. On October 5, 2018, the parties participated in a mediation session with Joel Grossman, Esq. At the mediation, Class Counsel represents that Defendant produced documents, including tax returns and financial statements relating to their financial inability to pay. The parties could not reach a consensus, and the case did not settle at mediation. (Declaration of Kane Moon ISO Prelim ¶11.) After mediation, the mediator continued to communicate with counsel, and on October 12, 2018, all parties accepted a mediator’s proposal. (Id. at ¶12.)
b. Were investigation and discovery sufficient to allow counsel and the court to act intelligently? Yes. Class Counsel represents that, following the filing of the Complaint, the parties agreed to an early mediation and a protocol for exchanging documents and information before the mediation. Defendant produced employee handbooks, Plaintiffs’ personnel files, and a sample of time and pay records for class members. Defendant also provided information regarding the total number of current and former employees in its informal discovery responses. (Id. at ¶9.)
c. Is counsel experienced in similar litigation? Yes. Class Counsel is experienced in class action litigation, including wage and hour class actions. (Id. at ¶¶ 55-60.)
d. What percentage of the class has objected? Zero objectors. (Kruckenberg Decl., ¶9.)
CONCLUSION: The settlement is entitled to a presumption of fairness.
2. Is the settlement fair, adequate, and reasonable?
a. Strength of Plaintiff’s case. “The most important factor is the strength of the case for plaintiff on the merits, balanced against the amount offered in settlement.” (Kullar, supra, 168 Cal.App.4th at pg. 130.) Here, Class Counsel has provided information, summarized below, regarding the strengths, weaknesses, and estimated values of the claims alleged.
Meal Break Violations
Rest Break Violations
Failure to Reimburse
Wage Statement Violations
Waiting Time Penalties
(Moon Decl. ISO Prelim. ¶¶ 20-44.)
In total, Class Counsel estimated Defendant’s maximum exposure at $3,998,325.20 and the discounted, realistic exposure at $571,385.92. Class Counsel obtained a gross settlement valued at $344,000, which is 9% of Defendant’s maximum exposure and 60% of Defendant’s realistic exposure. Given the uncertain outcomes, and Defendant’s financial condition, these percentages are within the “ballpark of reasonableness.”
b. Risk, expense, complexity and likely duration of further litigation. Given the nature of the class claims, the case is likely to be expensive and lengthy to try. Procedural hurdles (e.g., motion practice and appeals) are also likely to prolong the litigation as well as any recovery by the class members.
c. Risk of maintaining class action status through trial. Even if a class is certified, there is always a risk of decertification. (Weinstat v. Dentsply Intern., Inc. (2010) 180 Cal.App.4th 1213, 1226 [“Our Supreme Court has recognized that trial courts should retain some flexibility in conducting class actions, which means, under suitable circumstances, entertaining successive motions on certification if the court subsequently discovers that the propriety of a class action is not appropriate.”].)
d. Amount offered in settlement. As indicated above, Class Counsel negotiated a $344,000, non-reversionary settlement. Assuming the Court approves all of the requested deductions, approximately $183,558.52 will be available for automatic distribution to participating class members. The average settlement share to the 597 participating class members will be approximately $307.47. [$183,558.52 net ÷ 597 participating class members = $307.47]
e. Extent of discovery completed and stage of the proceedings. As discussed above, at the time of the settlement, the parties had conducted discovery sufficient to value the case for settlement purposes.
f. Experience and views of counsel. The settlement was negotiated and endorsed by Class Counsel who, as indicated above, is experienced in class action litigation, including wage and hour cases. Class Counsel believes that the settlement is fair, reasonable and adequate for each participating Class Member. (Motion ISO Final at 1:17-18.)
g. Presence of a governmental participant. This factor is not applicable here.
h. Reaction of the class members to the proposed settlement.
Number of class members: 598
Number of notices mailed: 598
Number of undeliverable notices: 23
Number of opt-outs: 1
Number of objections: 0
Number of participating class members: 597
(Kruckenberg Decl., ¶¶ 3-9.)
CONCLUSION: The settlement can be deemed “fair, adequate, and reasonable.” The Court finds that the notice was adequate and conforms to due process requirements.
3. May conditional class certification be granted?
A detailed analysis of the elements required for class certification is not required, but it is advisable to review each element when a class is being conditionally certified. (Amchem Products, Inc. v. Winsor (1997) 521 U.S. 591, 620, 622-627.) The trial court can appropriately utilize a different standard to determine the propriety of a settlement class as opposed to a litigation class certification. Specifically, a lesser standard of scrutiny is used for settlement cases. (Dunk at 1807, FN 19.) Finally, the Court is under no “ironclad requirement” to conduct an evidentiary hearing to consider whether the prerequisites for class certification have been satisfied. (Wershba at 240.)
CONCLUSION: Based on information presented to the Court prior to preliminary approval, the Court finds that Class Members are numerous and ascertainable, and that a community of interest exists as to the settlement class.
D. ATTORNEY FEES AND COSTS
Class Counsel requests $114,655.20 (33 1/3%) for attorney fees and $11,836.28 for costs. (Moon Decl. ISO Final ¶16.)
In determining the appropriate amount of a fee award, courts may use the lodestar method, applying a multiplier where appropriate. (PLCM Group, Inc. v. Drexler (2000) 22 Cal.4th 1084, 1095-96.) A percentage calculation is permitted in common fund cases. (Laffitte v. Robert Half Int’l, Inc. (2016) 1 Cal.5th 480, 503.) Despite any agreement by the parties to the contrary, courts have an independent responsibility to review an attorney fee provision and award only what it determines is reasonable. (Garabedian v. Los Angeles Cellular Telephone Company (2004) 118 Cal.App.4th 123, 128.)
In the instant case, fees are sought pursuant to the percentage method. (Moon Decl. ISO Final ¶16.) The $114,655.20 fee request is 33 1/3% of the Maximum Settlement Amount, which is average. (In re Consumer Privacy Cases (2009) 175 Cal.App.4th 545, 558, fn. 13 [“Empirical studies show that, regardless whether the percentage method or the lodestar method is used, fee awards in class actions average around one-third of the recovery.”].)
Here, the $114,655.20 fee request represents a reasonable percentage of the total funds paid by Defendant. Further, the notice expressly advised class members of the fee request, and no one objected. (Kruckenberg Decl. ¶9 and Ex. A.) Accordingly, the Court awards fees in the amount of $114,655.20.
Fee Split. Class Counsel have agreed, and Plaintiffs have provided their written consent, to the following fee split: 90% to Moon & Yang, APC and 10% to Lebe Law, APLC. (Moon Decl. ISO Final at Ex. 1.)
As for costs, Class Counsel requests $11,836.28. (Moon Decl. ISO Final Approval ¶16.) This is less than the $12,000.00 cap provided in the settlement agreement (¶3.D.4). The amount was disclosed to Class Members in the Notice, and no objections were received. (Kruckenberg Decl. ¶9 and Ex. A.) Class Counsel incurred actual costs in the amount of $11,836.28. (Moon Decl. ISO Final Approval ¶16 and Ex. 4.) Costs include mediation ($4,700), Berger Consulting ($3,000), and complex filing fee ($1,435). (Ibid.)
The costs appear to be reasonable and necessary to the litigation, are reasonable in amount, and were not objected to by the class.
For all of the foregoing reasons, costs of $11,836.28 are approved.
E. INCENTIVE AWARD TO CLASS REPRESENTATIVE
An incentive fee award to a named class representative must be supported by evidence that quantifies time and effort expended by the individual and a reasoned explanation of financial or other risks undertaken by the class representative. (See Clark v. American Residential Services LLC (2009) 175 Cal.App.4th 785, 806-807; see also Cellphone Termination Cases (2010) 186 Cal.App.4th 1380, 1394-1395 [“Criteria courts may consider in determining whether to make an incentive award include: (1) the risk to the class representative in commencing suit, both financial and otherwise; (2) the notoriety and personal difficulties encountered by the class representative; (3) the amount of time and effort spent by the class representative; (4) the duration of the litigation and; (5) the personal benefit (or lack thereof) enjoyed by the class representative as a result of the litigation. (Citations.)”].)
Here, the Class Representatives request enhancement awards totaling $8,500 [$5,000 to Tyler Jones and $3,500 to Devin Boyd]. (Moon Decl. ISO Final ¶15.)
Plaintiff Tyler Jones worked for Defendant as a security officer from March 2017 to May 2017. (Declaration of Tyler Jones ¶2.) Plaintiff represents that he has contributed to this action as follows: engaging in lengthy conversations with Class Counsel and promptly responding to Class Counsel’s inquiries; identifying potential witnesses; searching for and providing relevant documents to Class Counsel; speaking with other employees regarding their experiences working for Defendant; discussing the mediation with Class Counsel; and reviewing and signing the Settlement Agreement. (Id. at ¶10.) In total, Mr. Jones estimates he has spent between 40 and 50 hours on activities relating to this litigation. (Ibid.)
Plaintiff Devin Boyd worked for Defendant as a security officer from September 2016 to February 2017. (Declaration of Devin Boyd ¶2.) Plaintiff represents that he has contributed to this action as follows: engaging in lengthy conversations with Class Counsel and promptly responding to Class Counsel’s inquiries; identifying potential witnesses; searching for and providing relevant documents to Class Counsel; speaking with other employees regarding their experiences working for Defendant; discussing the mediation with Class Counsel; and reviewing and signing the Settlement Agreement. (Id. at ¶10.) In total, Mr. Boyd estimates he has spent approximately 30 hours on activities relating to this litigation. (Ibid.)
In light of the above-described contribution to this action, and in acknowledgment of the benefits obtained on behalf of the class, a $5,000 award for Mr. Jones and a $3,500 award for Mr. Boyd appear to be reasonable inducement for Plaintiffs’ participation in the case [$8,500 total]. Accordingly, enhancement awards in the requested amounts are approved.
F. CLAIMS ADMINISTRATION COSTS
Claims administrator, Phoenix Settlement Administrators, Inc., requests $17,950 in compensation for its work in administrating this case. (Kruckenberg Decl. ¶12.) At the time of preliminary approval, costs of settlement administration were estimated at $18,000. (Settlement Agreement ¶3.D.2.) Class Members were provided with notice of this amount and did not object. (Kruckenberg Decl. ¶9 and Ex. A.)
Accordingly, claims administration costs are approved in the amount of $17,950.
III. CONCLUSION AND ORDER
Contingent upon Class Counsel providing an explanation as to why the escalator clause in the Settlement Agreement has not been triggered or the parties agreeing that it has been and that the MSA is increased accordingly:
The Court hereby:
(1) Grants class certification for purposes of settlement;
(2) Grants final approval of the settlement as fair, adequate, and reasonable;
(3) Awards $114,655.20 in attorney fees to Class Counsel, Moon & Yang, APC;
(4) Awards $11,836.28 in litigation costs to Class Counsel;
(5) Approves payment of $7,500 (75% of $10,000 PAGA penalty) to the LWDA;
(6) Awards $8,500 as a Class Representative Service Awards to Plaintiffs Jones ($5,000) and Boyd ($3,500);
(7) Awards $17,950 in claims administration costs to Phoenix Settlement Administrators, Inc.;
(8) Orders class counsel to lodge a proposed Judgment, consistent with this ruling and containing the class definition, full release language, and the name of the one (1) class member who opted out by __________________________________________, 2020;
(9) Orders class counsel to provide notice to the class members pursuant to California Rules of Court, rule 3.771(b); and sets
(10) A Non-Appearance Case Review re: Final Report re: Distribution of Settlement Funds for ________________________________________________, at ___________. Final Report is to be filed by __________________________________________.
MAREN E. NELSON
Judge of the Superior Court