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Charles Smith, Hector Casas, and Barry v. Crst Van Expedited

January 14, 2013

CHARLES SMITH, HECTOR CASAS, AND BARRY NEWMANN, INDIVIDUALLY AND ON BEHALF OF ALL OTHER SIMILARLY SITUATED, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
CRST VAN EXPEDITED, INC., ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Irma E. Gonzalez United States District Judge

ORDER:

1. GRANTING MOTION FOR

FINAL APPROVAL OF

CLASS ACTION

SETTLEMENT AND AWARD OF INCENTIVE PAYMENTS TO CLASS REPRESENTATIVES

[Doc. No. 88]

2. GRANTING MOTION FOR

ATTORNEYS' FEES AND COSTS. [Doc. No. 81]

Presently before the Court are Plaintiffs' motion for final settlement approval and incentive payments to class representatives, [Doc. No. 88], and Plaintiffs' motion for attorneys' fees and costs. [Doc. No. 81.] For the reasons stated below, both motions are GRANTED.

BACKGROUND

This is a class action by truck drivers against their employer, CRST Van Expedited, Inc. ("CRST"), for failure to pay minimum wages during certain stages of the company's driver training program and related violations of California Business and Professions Code Section 17200. [See, e.g., Doc. No. 1, Ex. A (original complaint).] The class is represented by Charles Smith, Hector Casas, and Barry Newmann (collectively, the "Class Representatives"). Three portions of CRST's training program, (1) truck driver training school; (2) orientation; and (3) over-the-road training, pertain to the claims alleged as follows:

1. Truck driver training school: Certain drivers, referred to as Contract Student Drivers, were required to attend an 8 month truck driving school with the option of doing so at CRST's expense if they signed Driver Employment Contracts. Under the Driver Employment Contracts, if those drivers did not remain employed with CRST for a full 8 months, they would be obligated to pay CRST $3,950. This amount was ostensibly to repay the cost of the program, but was in fact $2,450 more than the cost of the program, and thus Plaintiffs allege the obligation to pay constituted an unenforceable penalty.

2. Orientation: All drivers were required to attend orientation, for which no compensation was paid. Plaintiffs allege they were entitled to California and federal minimum wage for the roughly 29 hours spent in this orientation.

3. Over-the-road training: Certain drivers were required to participate in over-the-road training, for which they received a flat $50 per day rate for 28 days. Plaintiffs allege this rate failed to meet the California and federal minimum wage.

After nearly three years litigating these claims, the parties agreed to a proposed settlement, [see Doc. No. 76-4 at 12-108 (Joint Stipulation of Settlement and Release of Class Action) (the "settlement")], which the Court preliminarily approved on April 23, 2012. [Doc. No. 78.] For settlement purposes,*fn1 the Court certified the following class divided into subclasses:

Persons who resided in the State of California at the time of their date of hire and who worked as truck drivers for CRST Van Expedited, Inc. between November 5, 2005 and April 23, 2012. These ...


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