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Currea v. Hillyard, Inc.

United States District Court, N.D. California, San Francisco Division

August 22, 2014

LAWRENCE DANIEL CHRISTENSEN and GEORGE CURREA, on behalf of themselves and all others similarly-situated, Plaintiffs,
v.
HILLYARD, INC., Defendant.

ORDER GRANTING PRELIMINARY APPROVAL OF CLASS ACTION SETTLEMENT Re: Dkt. No. 29

NATHANAEL M. COUSINS, Magistrate Judge.

Before the Court is plaintiffs' third motion to preliminarily approve the class action settlement with defendant Hillyard, Inc., to certify the class for purposes of settlement, and to approve class notice. Because the parties have demonstrated that the proposed class action settlement is fair, adequate, and reasonable, the Court grants plaintiffs' motion for preliminary approval of the class action settlement. The Court also conditionally certifies the class for purposes of settlement and approves the proposed notice to the class.

I. BACKGROUND

A. Plaintiffs' Allegations

This putative class action arises out of Hillyard's alleged failure to reimburse sales employees for work-related expenses incurred during demonstrations of products. Dkt. No. 1 at ¶ 1. Plaintiffs allege that they were required to travel to diverse geographic areas to demonstrate Hillyard's products and services. Id. Plaintiffs allege that Hillyard required class members to partially cover the cost of the products used for the demonstrations, in violation of California law. Id. Plaintiffs also allege that Hillyard required class members to "purchase laptop computers, cell-phones, iPads, and even [] corporate uniform shirts" and that Hillyard did not reimburse any of these costs, in violation of California law. Id.

Plaintiffs' proposed class includes employees who sold Hillyard's products in California who either "incurred expenditures or losses as a direct result of their employment with [Hillyard] but were not reimbursed for those expenditures or losses" or who "had costs of [Hillyard's] products deducted from their wages." Id. at ¶ 2. There are approximately forty-two members of the purported class for settlement purposes. Dkt. No. 21-1 at 6.

B. Procedural History

On September 20, 2013, plaintiffs filed a putative class action against Hillyard, Inc. Dkt. No. 1. The complaint brought claims for failure to reimburse expenses under California Labor Code § 2802, unlawful deductions under California Labor Code § 221, inaccurate wage statements under California Labor Code § 226, waiting time penalties under California Labor Code §§ 201-203, and a claim for unfair business practices under California Business and Professions Code § 17200. Hillyard answered the complaint on November 7, 2013. Dkt. No. 14.

The parties engaged in private mediation on March 6, 2013. Dkt. No. 21-1 at 5. After a full day of mediation, the parties reached a settlement and later executed a formal settlement agreement. Id.

On May 7, 2014, plaintiffs moved for preliminary approval of the class action settlement. Dkt. No. 21. The Court held a hearing on June 11, 2014. Dkt. No. 23. The Court denied preliminary approval of the settlement agreement because the Court could not assess the fairness of the release of the class members' claims, which was referenced in the class notice but not included in the settlement agreement submitted to the Court. Dkt. No. 26. Plaintiffs filed a second motion for preliminary approval of an amended settlement agreement on July 17, 2014. Dkt. No. 27. The Court denied the motion because the scope of the release of the class members' claims was overly broad. Dkt. No. 28. Plaintiffs moved a third time for preliminary approval of an amended settlement agreement on August 20, 2014. Dkt. No. 29. No objectors have thus far raised an objection to the first, second, or third proposed settlement.

Plaintiffs and defendant have consented to the jurisdiction of a magistrate judge. Dkt. No. 16.

C. Overview of the Settlement Agreement

Following an all-day mediation session on March 6, 2013, the parties reached a settlement. Dkt. Nos. 20, 21-1 at 5. In August, 2014, the parties reached an amended settlement agreement. Dkt. No. 29-3. The key ...


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