United States District Court, N.D. California
MARIA HERNANDEZ, Plaintiff on behalf of herself and all others similarly situated, Plaintiff,
CHILDREN'S CREATIVE LEARNING CENTERS; KNOWLEDGE LEARNING CORPORATION; and DOES 1 through 100, inclusive, Defendants.
STEVEN M. TINDALL, ROSHA K. JONES, RUKIN HYLAND DORIA & TINDALL LLP, San Francisco, California, ARTHUR A. NAVARETTE, Law Offices of Arthur A. Navarette, San Jose, CA, Attorneys for Individual and Representative Plaintiff Maria Hernandez.
[PROPOSED] ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFF'S REVISED MOTION FOR FINAL APPROVAL OF CLASS ACTION SETTLEMENT, APPLICATION FOR SERVICE AWARD, AND MOTION FOR ATTORNEYS' FEES AND COSTS
LUCY H. KOH, District Judge.
This matter came before the Court on December 11, 2014 on Plaintiff's motions for (1) final approval of the Joint Stipulation of Class Action Settlement (the "Settlement") and (2) an award of attorneys' fees and costs, and (3) a class representative service payment. The Court considered all papers filed in this matter and the oral argument at the hearing on December 11, 2014, at which time the parties and all other interested persons were afforded the opportunity to be heard in support of and in opposition to the proposed Settlement and the motions for attorneys' fees, costs, and a service payment.
Based on the papers filed with the Court and presentations made to the Court at the hearing, it is hereby ORDERED as follows:
I. FINAL APPROVAL OF CLASS ACTION SETTLEMENT
1. The definitions and provisions of the Settlement are hereby incorporated as though fully set forth herein. For purposes of this Order, capitalized terms used hereafter that are defined in the Settlement shall have the meaning ascribed to them in the Settlement, unless otherwise noted.
2. The Court has jurisdiction over the subject matter of the Settlement with respect to and over all Parties to the Settlement, including all Class Members.
3. To date, no member of the Plaintiff Class has filed any objection to the terms of the Settlement or to either the Motion for Attorneys' Fees and Costs or the Motion for Class Representative Service Payment, and only one Class Member has requested exclusion from the Settlement. The Court finds that the absence of objections and virtual absence of opt-out requests indicate broad support for the Settlement among the Plaintiff Class, which the Court provisionally certified for settlement purposes in its May 16, 2014 Order.
4. The Plaintiff Class includes all current and former employees of Defendants Children's Creative Learning Center, Inc., and Knowledge Universe Education LLC (formerly known as Knowledge Learning Corporation) ("Defendants") who worked as Head Teachers, Co-Teachers, Floater Teachers, Assistant Teachers, and Program Specialists at Defendants' San Jose (Cisco) Facility or Mountain View Facility at any time between August 13, 2008, and May 16, 2014 (the date of preliminary approval). The Court hereby confirms the provisional certification of the Plaintiff Class and certifies it for settlement purposes only under Rule 23(a) and (b)(3). The Plaintiff Class meets the Rule 23(a) elements of numerosity, commonality, typicality, and adequacy, as noted in the Court's order of May 16, 2014. In addition, the Class meets the Rule 23(b)(3) requirements for settlement purposes because, in the context of this class action settlement, the issues common to all Class Members predominate over any issues affecting individual Class Members.
5. Following the Court's Preliminary Approval Order, several Class Members contacted the Settlement Administrator, to challenge the dates used to calculate the number of workweeks they worked in covered job positions during the Class Period. A subsequent investigation revealed that the initial list of the members of the Plaintiff Class inadvertently omitted 27 people who were covered by the Class definition and therefore should have been included within the Settlement Class and subject to the Settlement Agreement. It was also discovered that the initial calculation of the workweeks of Plaintiff Class Members inadvertently omitted some weeks that some Class Members had worked during the Class Period. The Parties, therefore, agreed to include in the Settlement the 27 Class Members who should have been included and to re-calculate the number of weeks worked by each Class Member. As a result of these revised calculations, the parties negotiated and agreed to increase the total value of the Settlement by $25, 000, from $675, 000 to $700, 000. Accordingly, Plaintiff negotiated a $700, 000, non-reversionary settlement of this litigation on behalf of approximately 233 total Class Members.
6. The Court hereby grants final approval to the Settlement. The Court finds that the Settlement is fair, reasonable, and adequate to the Plaintiff Class, is within the authority of the parties, and is the result of extensive, arm's-length negotiations. Despite the risks Plaintiff faced in obtaining class certification, in succeeding on the merits of Plaintiff's claims, and proving damages caused by any alleged violations by Defendants, the Settlement provides a definite, immediate financial benefit of $700, 000, with an average net settlement payment of approximately $2, 190 per Plaintiff Class Member for all of the 232 Class Members who have not chosen to opt out of the Settlement. In the course of the litigation, Plaintiff faced risks that she would not succeed in showing that Defendants had a policy or practice of failing to pay employees for all wages due, including overtime, or failing to provide meal and rest breaks and itemized wage statements. The Settlement avoids the risks of possible adverse rulings on class certification, liability, and damages on the Class claims. The proposed Settlement also avoids the delay and uncertainty of class certification, dispositive motions by Defendants, and the uncertainty of trial by providing the Plaintiff Class with significant, definite compensation in a comparatively prompt manner.
7. The Court finds further that the notice plan set forth in the Settlement and preliminarily approved by the Court (and as recently supplemented with an additional notice) was the best notice practicable under the circumstances.
8. As described above, after several members of the Plaintiff Class submitted workweek challenges, the parties realized the need to revise workweek calculations and increased the amount of the Settlement. Because the newly identified Class Members needed to receive notice and an opportunity to opt out and object, the parties stipulated to a revised "long-form" Class Notice to send to the 27 Class Members who were inadvertently previously excluded and a "short-form" notice to send to the original 206 Class Members identifying the revised settlement amount and new deadline (November 26, 2014) for opting out and objecting. The long-form notice closely resembled the notice originally sent to the 206 Class Members, but included revised information regarding the settlement amount and revised dates for objecting to or requesting exclusion from the Settlement. On October 22, 2014, the Court approved both the long-form and short-form notices and set the new deadline to object or opt-out of the Settlement of November 26, 2014. On October 27, 2014, the Settlement Administrator sent out the long-form notice to the newly-identified Class Members and the short-form notice to the remaining Class Members. To date, no additional Class Member has requested exclusion, and no Class Member has submitted any objection to the Settlement.
9. Accordingly, the Court finds that the Notice is constitutionally sound and satisfies the requirements of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23, and the notice plan, as executed here, was ...