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Ceja-Corona v. CVS Pharmacy, Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. California

September 11, 2014

LETICIA CEJA-CORONA, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
CVS PHARMACY, INC., Defendant.

ORDER REQUIRING ADDITIONAL BRIEFING ON PLAINTIFFS' MOTION FOR PRELIMINARY APPROVAL OF CLASS SETTLEMENT

STANLEY A. BOONE, Magistrate Judge.

On July 30, 2014, Plaintiffs Leticia Ceja-Corona and Margarita Rubio Armenta, on behalf of themselves and others similarly situated (hereinafter collectively referred to as "Plaintiffs"), filed a motion for preliminary approval of a class action settlement. (ECF No. 48.) Plaintiffs' motion is unopposed.

The hearing on Plaintiffs' motion took place on September 10, 2014. Attorney David Yeremian appeared telephonically on behalf of Plaintiffs. Attorney Thomas McInerney appeared telephonically on behalf of Defendant. For the reasons set forth below, the Court will require the parties to submit additional briefing in support of the motion.

I.

BACKGROUND

A. Allegations in the Operative Complaint

The operative complaint in this action is the Second Amended Complaint filed on February 26, 2014. (ECF No. 45.) Plaintiffs' complaint raises six causes of action: 1) for failure to pay minimum wages and overtime, 2) for failure to provide reporting time pay, 3) for failing to provide accurate earnings statements, 4) for failure to timely pay wages upon termination, 5) for unfair competition under California Business & Professions Code § 17200, and 6) for failure to pay wages and overtime for off-the-clock work, and 7) for penalties under California's Private Attorney's General Act, California Labor Code § 2699.

Plaintiffs Leticia Ceja-Corona and Margarita Rubio Armenta were employed by Defendant CVS Pharmacy, Inc. ("Defendant") in the County of Stanislaus in California. (Second Am. Compl. ¶ 2.) Plaintiffs originally brought this action on behalf of two classes: first, on behalf of all persons who are or have been employed by Defendant at distribution centers as nonexempt hourly employees in the State of California at any time four years prior to the filing of this lawsuit and continuing on to the present. (Second Am. Compl. ¶ 27.) The second class consists of all persons who are or have been employed by Defendant at distribution centers as nonexempt hourly employees at any time three (3) years prior to the filing of this lawsuit and continuing to the present and who elect to opt into this action. (Second Am. Compl. ¶ 27.)

Plaintiffs allege that Defendant failed to pay Plaintiffs all wages, overtime, and reporting time pay due under the California Labor Code, the applicable California Industrial Welfare Commission Wage Orders, and the Fair Labor Standards Act. (Second Am. Compl. ¶ 10.) Plaintiffs allege that, prior to clocking in for the day, they must gain admittance into distribution centers using security badges that are swiped before passing through turnstiles. (Second Am. Compl. ¶ 14.) After entering the facility, employees must deposit their personal belongings in lockers because Defendant's policy prohibits employees from taking personal belongings into areas where merchandise is stored. (Second Am. Compl. ¶ 15.) While at their lockers, employees must also collect the tools they use to perform their job duties. (Second Am. Compl. ¶ 15.) Employees then walk to the stock room, which requires employees to swipe their security badges. (Second Am. Compl. ¶ 16.) Frequently, there is a line of employees entering the stock room. (Second Am. Compl. ¶ 16.) Employees do not clock in until they are inside the stock room, and spend 15-20 minutes going through the entry process before they clock in. (Second Am. Compl. ¶ 16.) Employees must repeat the same process any time they leave the distribution center for a lunch or rest break. (Second Am. Compl. ¶ 16.) Employees are not compensated for this time. (Second Am. Compl. ¶ 16.)

Any time an employee leaves the distribution center, they must return to their lockers, return their tools and collect their personal belongings before going through the security screenings required by Defendant. (Second Am. Compl. ¶ 17.) During the security screenings, employees are searched. (Second Am. Compl. ¶ 18.) Often, employees must wait in long lines while other employees are searched as they leave. (Second Am. Compl. ¶ 18.) Employees spend 15-20 minutes after clocking out to go through the security screening and are not compensated for their time. (Second Am. Compl. ¶ 20.)

Plaintiffs allege that the off-the-clock work described above causes employees to work overtime, either extending their shifts more than eight hours per day or over forty hours per week. (Second Am. Compl. ¶ 21.) Plaintiffs further allege that, in some instances, employees reported to work, but were given no work to do or worked less than one half of their scheduled shift, but did not receive reporting time pay. (Second Am. Compl. ¶ 22.) Plaintiffs further allege that employees were not given timely, accurate and itemized wage statements. (Second Am. Compl. ¶ 23.) Plaintiffs also allege that employees who quit their jobs with Defendant were not given all wages owed to them within 72 hours of resignation or thirty days thereafter. (Second Am. Compl. ¶ 24.)

B. Terms of the Proposed Class Settlement

The parties attended mediation on April 8, 2014. At the mediation, the parties reached a settlement. Defendant agrees to pay $900, 000.00 in cash to resolve the claims of any class members who do not timely and validly opt out. The $900, 000.00 is paid by Defendant on a non-reversionary basis. The parties propose the following deductions from the $900, 000.00 settlement figure:

• up to $10, 000 to Ceja-Corona and $7, 500 for Armenta for their services and participation as class representatives;
• up to $270, 000 to Class Counsel for attorneys' fees and up to $15, 000 for litigation costs;
• $7, 500 to the California Labor and Workforce Development Agency ("LWDA") for penalties pursuant to Labor Code § 2699, et seq.;
• $30, 700 for the costs of claims administration;
• Defendant's share of payroll taxes on the settlement awards.

Defendant's records show that there are approximately 2, 273 class members in this action. The proposed settlement provides that an equitable formula will be applied to distribute the settlement funds to each participating class member based upon the number of workweeks the member has worked during the relevant time period. The settlement provides for a $50.00 guaranteed minimum payment for participating class members.

The parties propose the following timeline for settlement:

II.

LEGAL STANDARDS FOR APPROVAL OF CLASS SETTLEMENTS

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(e) states:

(e) Settlement, Voluntary Dismissal, or Compromise. The claims, issues or defenses of a certified class may be settled, voluntarily dismissed, or compromised only with the court's approval. The following procedures apply to a proposed settlement, voluntary dismissal, or compromise:
(1) The court must direct notice in a reasonable manner to all class members who would be bound by the proposal.
(2) If the proposal would bind class members, the court may approve it only after a hearing and on finding that it is ...

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