The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Charles R. Breyer
FINDINGS AND ORDER PRELIMINARILY APPROVING PROPOSED SETTLEMENT, DISSEMINATION OF CLASS NOTICE, SETTLEMENT FUND AND SETTING APPROVING FORM AND ESTABLISHING A QUALIFIED DATE FOR HEARING ON FINAL APPROVAL OF SETTLEMENT Hon. Charles R. Breyer
This litigation involves claims for alleged violations of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, as amended, 29 U.S.C. §1001, et seq. ("ERISA"), with respect to 401(k) Plans sponsored by Bechtel Corporation, specifically, the Bechtel Trust and Thrift Plan and the Becon Trust and Thrift Plan (collectively, the "Plans").
Presented to the Court for preliminary approval is a settlement of the litigation as against all Defendants (the "Settlement"). The terms of the settlement are set out in a Class Action Settlement Agreement dated October 6, 2010 (the "Settlement Agreement") [Ct.Doc. 794], executed by the parties and their counsel.
The Court has preliminarily considered the settlement to determine, among other things, whether to certify a class for settlement purposes only, and whether the settlement is sufficient to warrant the issuance of notice to members of the Settlement Class. Upon reviewing the Settlement Agreement and motion papers relating to the request for preliminary approval of the Settlement, it is hereby ORDERED, ADJUDGED AND DECREED as follows:
1. Class Findings:The Court amends it prior certification of the class to define the settlement class under Fed. R. Civ. P. 23(b)(1) in this litigation (the "Settlement Class"):
(a) all persons who, at any time between January 1, 1994 and September 30, 2010, inclusive, had an account in the Bechtel Trust and Thrift Plan or the Becon Trust and Thrift Plan including any beneficiaries, alternate payees or attorneys-in-fact who are or become entitled to any portion of such an account; provided, however, that the Class shall not include: (b) any Defendant, or member of the Bechtel Trust and Thrift Committee between January 1, 1994 and September 30, 2010, and as to each person within the scope of clause (b), his/her immediate family members, beneficiaries, alternate payees or attorneys-in-fact.
2. Appointment of Class Representatives and Class Counsel:The Court continues the appointment of the Class Representatives to represent the Settlement Class, and Schlichter, Bogard & Denton LLP as Class Counsel pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 23(e) and (g).
3. Preliminary Findings Regarding Proposed Settlement: The Court preliminarily finds that:
A. the proposed settlement resulted from extensive arm's-length negotiations;
B. the Settlement Agreement was executed only after Class Counsel had conducted pre-settlement motion practice and discovery, and after negotiations had continued for several months, including an all-day mediations in Chicago, Illinois, and extensive telephonic and email communications with and without a skilled mediator;
C. Class Counsel has concluded that the Settlement Agreement is fair, reasonable and adequate; and
D. The Settlement is sufficiently fair, reasonable, and adequate to warrant sending notice of the Settlement to the Settlement Class.
4. Fairness Hearing: A hearing is scheduled for February 18, 2011 (the "Fairness Hearing") to determine, among other things:
A. Whether the Settlement Agreement should be approved as fair, reasonable and adequate;
B. Whether the notice, publication notice and notice methodology was performed fairly as directed by this Court;
C. Whether the motion for attorneys' fees and costs to be filed by Class Counsel should be approved;
D. Whether the motion for compensation to Class Representatives should be approved; and
E. Whether the Administrative Expenses specified in the Settlement Agreement and requested by the parties should be approved for ...