Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Betorina v. Randstad US, L.P.

United States District Court, N.D. California

April 6, 2017

MARCUS BETORINA, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
RANDSTAD US, L.P., Defendant.

          ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFFS' MOTION FOR PRELIMINARY APPROVAL OF CLASS SETTLEMENT DOCKET NO. 31

          EDWARD M. CHEN United States District Judge

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Plaintiffs Marcus Betorina, Joseph Diaz, and Fred Bell filed this lawsuit against Defendant Randstad US, L.P., generally alleging that that Defendant's security guard employees were not properly compensated for wages as required under California law. Docket No. 1-3 Ex. C. Pending before the Court is Plaintiffs' motion for preliminary approval of class settlement. Docket No. 31. Defendant filed a statement of non-opposition regarding the motion for preliminary approval. Docket No. 34. For the reasons stated at the hearing and as set forth below, the Court GRANTS Plaintiffs' motion for preliminary approval.

         II. BACKGROUND

         A. Litigation History

         Plaintiffs filed this lawsuit against Defendant in the Superior Court of the State of California for the County of Alameda on February 13, 2015. Docket No. 1-3 Ex. C. The original complaint generally alleged that Defendant's security guard employees were not properly compensated for wages as required under California law. On April 16, 2015, Plaintiffs filed the First Amended Complaint, which added a claim under the California Private Attorneys General Act. Docket No. 1-1 Ex. A; Docket No. 31-1 (Declaration of Kyle Nordrehaug in Support of Motion) at ¶ 7.

         The First Amended Complaint alleges five causes of action: unfair competition in violation of California Business and Professions Code §§ 17200, et seq.; failure to provide accurate itemized statements in violation of California Labor Code § 226; failure to reimburse employees for required expenses in violation of California Labor Code § 2802; failure to timely pay wages when due in violation of California Labor Code § 203; and violation of the Private Attorneys General Act, Labor Code §§ 2698, et seq. Docket No. 1-1 Ex. A.

         On August 7, 2015, Defendant answered the First Amended Complaint. Docket No. 1-2 Ex. B. The action was then removed by Defendant to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California on August 10, 2015. Docket No. 1; Docket No. 31-1 (Declaration of Kyle Nordrehaug in Support of Motion) at ¶ 8.

         On May 5, 2016, this Court held an initial Case Management Conference. Docket No. 19. On August 6, 2016, Parties participated in a good faith, arms-length mediation presided over by Jeffrey Ross, a respected and experienced mediator of wage and hour class actions. Docket No. 31-1 (Declaration of Kyle Nordrehaug in Support of Motion) at ¶ 12. With the assistance of the mediator, the Parties agreed to settle the action and signed a Memorandum of Understanding. Id. Parties then negotiated and prepared the Settlement Agreement which sets forth the final terms of the Settlement. Id. B. Settlement Agreement 1. Second Amended Complaint Attached to the Settlement Agreement as Exhibit B is Plaintiffs' Second Amended Complaint, which the Settlement Agreement explains to have “occurred during the Settlement Period.” Docket No. 31-1 Ex. 1 (Settlement Agreement) at ¶ 48. The Second Amended Complaint differs from the First Amended Complaint in that it additionally asserts the following claims based on Defendant's uniform policy of failing to pay overtime compensation to non-exempt employees: failure to pay overtime wages in violation of California Labor Code §§510, et seq.; and failure to pay overtime compensation in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), 29 U.S.C. §§201, et seq. Docket No. 31-1 Ex. 1 Ex. B (Second Amended Complaint).

         Because Parties have based their Settlement Agreement on the Second Amended Complaint, the Court treats the Second Amended Complaint as the operative complaint for settlement purposes.

         2. Settlement Class

         Parties agreed to the following definition of the Settlement Class: “all individuals who worked for Defendant Randstad US, L.P. as Security Guards who were placed out of Randstad business unit 14023, and classified as non-exempt employees, from February 13, 2011 to August 8, 2016.” Docket No. 31-1 Ex. 1 (Settlement Agreement) at ¶ 12.

         3. Payment Terms

         Per Parties' agreement, Defendant pays $350, 000 (“Gross Settlement Fund”) as consideration for the Settlement Agreement. Docket No. 31-1 Ex. 1 (Settlement Agreement) at ¶ 29. This amount includes:

(i) all payments made to Qualified Claimants; (ii) service awards (i.e., service payments) to the Class Representatives (of up to $10, 000 each for Plaintiffs Betorina, Bell, and Diaz); (iii) $3, 500 for the release of any PAGA claims that could be and/or were asserted; (iv) Settlement Administration Expenses; (v) Class Counsel's approved attorneys' fees (of no more than 87, 500); (vi) Class Counsel's approved litigation costs (of no more than $10, 000); and (vii) all payroll taxes other than Defendant's portion of payroll taxes which shall remain the responsibility of Defendant.

Id. at ¶ 29. Defendant shall fully fund the Gross Settlement to the Settlement Administrator within fifteen days of the Effective Date, the date upon which final approval of the Settlement Agreement is granted by the Court and the Court's judgment approving the Settlement becomes final. Id. at ¶ 6.

         4. Releases

         In exchange for the payments, the Settlement Class releases the following claims:

any and all claims, rights, demands, charges, complaint, causes of action, obligations or liability of any and every kind that were alleged in any version of any complaint filed in the Action or in the Second Amended Complaint which occurred during the Settlement Period, and expressly excluding all other claims, including claims for wrongful termination, unemployment insurance, disability, workers' compensation, and claims outside the Settlement Period, except that Settlement Class Members who do not submit signed Claim Forms will not release their claims under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“Released Class Claims”).

Id. at ¶ 48.

         5. Procedures for Claims and Settlement

         The Net Settlement Fund is the Gross Settlement Fund minus distributions for attorneys' fees and costs, expenses of the Settlement Administrator, service awards, and the payment to the California Labor & Workforce Development Agency for release of claims under the Private Attorneys General Act under Labor Code §§ 2699, et seq. Id. at ¶ 9. Each member of the Settlement Class who submits a valid Claim Form (“Qualified Claimant”) shall be entitled to receive a pro rata portion of the Net Settlement Fund, calculated based on the number of workweeks in which the member worked during the Settlement Period, divided by the total number of workweeks worked by all Settlement Class Members during the said period (“Individual Settlement Share”). Id. at ¶ 29(c). The entire Net Settlement Fund will be distributed to Qualified Claimants, and there will be no reversion of the Net Settlement Fund to Defendant. Id. at ¶ 10. In order to receive their Individual Settlement Share, Settlement Class Members must submit a signed and completed Claim Form to the Settlement Administrator postmarked no later than forty-five days after the Class Notice is mailed (or not more than twenty calendar days after the Class Notice is re-mailed). Id. at ¶ 43.

         6. Opt-Ins, Opt-Outs, and Objections

         Unless a Class Member opts out of the Settlement, he or she will be bound by the terms of the Settlement Agreement, although in order to release FLSA claims and become a member of the FLSA Class, a Class Member must affirmatively sign the FLSA Opt-In. As described in the Class Notice, in order to opt out, a Class Member must submit to the Settlement Administrator, by First Class Mail, a written, signed, and dated request to opt out, postmarked no later than forty-five days after the Class Notice is mailed (or not more than twenty calendar days after the date the Class Notice is re-mailed). Id. at ¶ 39. Settlement Class Members who do not opt out may object to the Settlement by submitting an objection to the Court within forty-five calendar days after the Class Notice is sent (or not more than twenty calendar days after the date the Class Notice is re-mailed). Id. at ¶ 41.

         III. DISCUSSION

         A. Legal Standard

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(e) provides that “[t]he claims, issues, or defenses of a certified class may be settled, voluntarily dismissed, or compromised only with the court's approval.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 23(e). It further provides that, “[i]f the proposal would bind class members, the court may approve it only after a hearing and on finding that it is fair, reasonable, and adequate.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 23(e)(2). When parties reach a settlement agreement prior to class certification, as here, the court has an obligation to “peruse the proposed compromise to ratify both the propriety of the certification and the fairness of the settlement.” Staton v. Boeing Co., 327 F.3d 938, 952 (9th Cir. 2003).

         Thus, this Court engages in a two-step inquiry. First, the Court assesses whether a class exists with respect to both the Settlement Class and the FLSA Class. See Id. (citing Amchem Prods., Inc. v. Windsor, 521 U.S. 591, 620 (1997)). Second, the Court “determine[s] whether the proposed settlement is fundamentally fair, adequate, and reasonable.” Id. (citing Hanlon v. Chrysler Corp., 150 F.3d 1011, 1026 (9th Cir. 1998)).

         B. Certification of the Settlement Class

         1. Legal Standard

         The Court must determine whether the Settlement Class meets the requirements for class certification under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23 before determining the fairness of the Settlement Agreement. See Hanlon, 150 F.3d at 1019.

         Parties seeking class certification bear the burden of demonstrating the elements of Rule 23(a) are satisfied and “must affirmatively demonstrate . . . compliance with the Rule.” Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. Dukes, 131 S.Ct. 2541, 2551 (2011). If an action meets the prerequisites of Rule 23(a), the court must consider whether the class is maintainable under one or more of the three alternatives set forth in Rule 23(b). Narouz v. Charter Communs., LLC, 591 F.3d 1261, 1266 (9th Cir. 2010).

         2. Rule 23(a) Requirements

         The prerequisites of Rule 23(a) “effectively limit the class claims to those fairly encompassed by the named plaintiff's claims.” General Telephone Co. of the Southwest. v. Falcon, 457 U.S. 147, 155-56 (1982) (citing General Telephone Co. v. EEOC, 446 U.S. 318, 330 (1980)). Rule 23(a) requires:

(1) the class is so numerous that joinder of all members is impracticable; (2) there are questions of law or fact common to the class; (3) the claims or defenses of the representative parties are typical of the claims or defenses of the class; and (4) the representative ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.