The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hon. Lawrence J. O'Neill
ORDER: (1) CONDITIONALLY CERTIFYING SETTLEMENT CLASS AND COLLECTIVE ACTION; (2) PRELIMINARILY APPROVING CLASS SETTLEMENT; (3) APPOINTING CLASS REPRESENTATIVES AND CLASS COUNSEL; (4) APPROVING CLASS NOTICE AND RELATED MATERIALS; (5) APPOINTING SETTLEMENT ADMINISTRATOR; AND (6) SCHEDULING FINAL APPROVAL HEARING Date: January 21, 2009 Time: 8:30 a.m. Courtroom: 4
On January 21, 2009, a hearing was held on the joint motion of plaintiffs Juan Ruiz, Juana Martinez, Jesus Lozoya, and Richard Rodriguez ("Plaintiffs") and defendant F. Korbel & Bros., Inc. ("Korbel"), for conditional certification of a settlement class in this action, conditional designation of a collective action under section 216(b) of the Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA"), preliminary approval of the parties' proposed settlement, approval of the notice to be sent to the class about the settlement and the forms of class member settlement information and election not to participate in the settlement, approval of the claim form and consent to jurisdiction, and the setting of a date for the hearing on final approval of the settlement. Stan S. Mallison, Hector R. Martinez, and Marco A. Palau of the Law Offices of Mallison & Martinez appeared for Plaintiffs; and Jeffrey D. Wohl and Zachary P. Hutton of Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & Walker LLP appeared for Korbel.
The Court having read and considered the papers on the motion, the arguments of counsel, and the law, and good cause appearing therefore,
1. The Court has jurisdiction over this action and the parties' proposed settlement under 28 U.S.C. sections 1331 and 1367, as plaintiffs' original complaint was brought under the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Workers Protection Act, 29 U.S.C. §§ 1801-1872; the Fair Labor Standards Act, 29 U.S.C. § 201 et seq.; and related California wage-and-hour law; the Court has original jurisdiction over plaintiffs' federal law claims; and the Court has supplemental jurisdiction over plaintiffs' state-law claims because they arise from the same alleged transactions and occurrences as do plaintiffs' federal-law claims.
2. The proposed class satisfies the requirements of a settlement class because the class members are readily ascertainable and a well-defined community of interest exists in the questions of law and fact affecting the parties.
3. The parties' Settlement Agreement (the "Settlement") (Declaration of Stan S. Mallison in Support of Joint Motion for Order: (1) Conditionally Certifying Settlement Class and Collective Action; (2) Preliminarily Approving Class Settlement; (3) Appointing Class Representatives and Class Counsel; (4) Approving Class Notice and Related Materials; (5) Appointing Settlement Administrator; and (6) Scheduling Final Approval Hearing ["Mallison Decl."], Exh. 1) is granted preliminary approval as it meets the criteria for preliminary settlement approval. The Settlement falls within the range of possible approval as fair, adequate and reasonable, and appears to be the product of arm's-length and informed negotiations and to treat all Class Members fairly.
4. The parties' proposed notice plan is constitutionally sound because individual notices will be mailed to all class members whose identities are known to the parties, and such notice is the best notice practicable. The parties' proposed Notice of Proposed Settlement of Collective Action and Class Action, Conditional Certification of Settlement Class and Collective Action, Preliminary Approval of Settlement, and Hearing Date for Final Court Approval ("Class Notice") (Settlement Agreement, Exh. B), and proposed forms of Claim Form and Election Not to Participate in Settlement (id., Exhs. C and D)) (collectively the "Class Notice Packet") are sufficient to inform Class Members of the terms of the Settlement, their rights under the Settlement, their rights to object to the settlement, their right to receive a Settlement Share or elect not to participate in the Settlement, and the processes for doing so, and the date and location of the final approval hearing, and therefore are all approved.
5. The following class of persons are certified as the Class in this action solely for the purposes of the Settlement:
All persons who are of have been employed by Korbel in the State of California as regular employees from March 21, 2004, until January 21, 2009, in one or more of the one or more of the following positions (the "Covered Positions"):
Acting Sub-ForepersonMaintenance Helper
Auto DetailerMaintenance Worker
Banquet ServerOn-Call Chef
Barrel Room CoordinatorPackaging Worker
Bottling LaborProduction Machine Operator
Brandy Processing CoordinatorPurchasing Courier
Cellar InternQuality Assurance Technician
Cellar WorkerQuality Control Technician
Chef's AssistantRanch Worker
Deli ServerRetail Assistant/Tour Guide
Deli SupervisorSanitation Worker
Facilities WorkerSecurity Office
General LaborerSkilled Worker
InspectorTour Guide/Sales Clerk
Lab TechnicianTractor Driver
Lab Technician InternTrainee
Lead GroundskeeperTruck Driver
Lead Security OfficerVineyard Worker
Lead TechnicianWarehouse Worker
Machine AttendantWeigh Master
Machine OperatorWine Shop/Tour Guide
6. The Court grants conditional certification of a collective action, pursuant to section 16(b) of the Fair Labor Standards Act, 29 U.S.C. § 216(b), solely for the purposes of settlement, because Plaintiffs are similarly situated to other individuals in the Covered Positions described above.
7. Any Class Member who submits a timely and valid Claim Form within thirty days after the date the Settlement Administrator mails the Class Notice Packet will receive a Settlement Share.
8. Any Class Member who wishes to elect not to participate in the Settlement has until thirty days after the mailing of the Class Notice Packet to submit his or her Election Not to Participate in Settlement ...