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Saravia v. Dynamex Operations West, LLC

United States District Court, N.D. California

April 7, 2017

JUAN SARAVIA, individually and on behalf of himself and all others similarly situated, Plaintiffs,
v.
DYNAMEX OPERATIONS WEST, LLC, Defendant.

          ORDER GRANTING FINAL APPROVAL OF COLLECTIVE SETTLEMENT AND APPROVING SERVICE AWARD

          WILLIAM ALSUP UNITED STATE DISTRICT JUDGE.

         INTRODUCTION

         In this wage-and-hour collective action under the Fair Labor Standards Act, both sides seek final approval of a collective-wide settlement, and the named plaintiff seeks a service award. Several objections were filed. For the reasons stated below, the objections are Overruled, and final approval is Granted. The service award is also Approved, though reduced.

         STATEMENT

         Plaintiff Juan Saravia represents a certified collective of drivers who contracted with defendant Dynamex Operations West, LLC. Plaintiffs contend Dynamex improperly classified them as independent contractors rather than as employees and failed to pay them minimum wages and overtime premiums.

         After a full and hard-fought discovery period, an order denied defendants' motion to decertify the collective action but invited plaintiffs to identify the individual with the easiest case for misclassification and further invited both sides to move for summary judgment as to that plaintiff (rather than as to the named plaintiff). Summary judgment was denied for both sides. Shortly before trial, the parties reached a settlement agreement, and an order granted preliminary approval of that agreement.

         After several drafts and resolution of a contested term of the settlement agreement, the parties notified the members of the collective of the settlement and the procedure for opting out, objecting, or offering a conditional challenge to the settlement.

         More than 140 individuals initially opted in as plaintiffs. After various motions to dismiss certain individuals and the narrowing of the case before summary judgment, 107 plaintiffs (including 106 opt-ins and our named plaintiff) remained members of the collective. After notice of the settlement was disseminated, one plaintiff opted out of the settlement. Another challenged the settlement agreement, but did not withdraw. A third attempted to challenge the settlement agreement, but failed to do so according to the proper procedure. Accordingly, the proposed settlement affects a total of 106 plaintiffs.

         This order follows plaintiffs' counsel's brief on the merits of the settlement, briefs from both sides addressing objections, and a fairness hearing.

         ANALYSIS

         “A settlement should be approved if it is fundamentally fair, adequate and reasonable.” Torrisi v. Tucson Elec. Power Co., 8 F.3d 1370, 1375 (9th Cir. 1993) (internal quotations omitted).

         1. Proposed Settlement.

          A. Settlement Fund.

         Dynamex will pay a total of $500 thousand to settle claims herein. This amount is exclusive of attorney's fees and costs, settlement administration costs, and the service award to Saravia. Fees and costs are addressed in a separate order on plaintiffs' counsel's disputed motion. Dynamex is paying administrative costs. The service award is addressed below. There is no possibility that any of the settlement fund will revert to Dynamex.

         The plaintiffs who remain part of the collective will receive a direct monetary distribution. There will be no claims procedure.

         The amount disbursed to each plaintiff will be a minimum payment of two hundred dollars, plus a proportion of the total settlement fund after the minimum payment is disbursed, which proportion will be based on each plaintiff's pro rata share of the total number of overtime hours worked. The calculation of overtime hours is based on plaintiff's driver activity reports ...


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