United States District Court, S.D. California
WILLIAM CIFUENTES, individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated, Plaintiff,
CEVA LOGISTICS U.S., INC., Defendant.
ORDER (1) CERTIFYING CLASS FOR SETTLEMENT PURPOSES;
(2) PRELIMINARILY APPROVING CLASS SETTLEMENT; (3) APPROVING
CLASS NOTICE; AND (4) SCHEDULING FINAL APPROVAL HEARING [DOC.
MARILYN L. HUFF, DISTRICT JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
5, 2017, Plaintiff William Cifuentes filed an unopposed
motion seeking provisional class certification, preliminary
approval of a proposed class settlement, approval of a
proposed dissemination of class notice, and a final approval
schedule. (Doc No. 16.) The Court held a hearing on the
matter on June 12, 2017. Joshua Konecky appeared for
Plaintiff. Nicole E. Forde appeared for Defendant. For the
following reasons the Court grants Plaintiff's motion and
sets a schedule for further proceedings.
Factual and Procedural Background
a wage and hour class action filed on behalf of all
individuals who have performed one or more deliveries in
California for Defendant CEVA Logistics U.S., Inc., while
being classified as an independent contractor, no more than
four years prior to the filing of the Complaint. (Doc. No.
1.) Defendant is a delivery company headquartered in
Jacksonville, Florida, and engages in delivery services in
California. (Id. ¶ 10.) Plaintiff claims that
Defendant improperly categorized class members as independent
contractors, rather than as employees, and as a result denied
them the rights and protections afforded by the California
Labor Code. (Id. ¶ 2.) Additionally, Plaintiff
claims that Defendant failed to make meal and rest periods
available to class members; did not provide accurate,
itemized wage statements; and failed to reimburse class
members for reasonable business expenses. (Id.)
Lastly, Plaintiff claims Defendant failed to compensate class
members for all hours worked, overtime, and full wages upon
departure from the company as required by California Labor
Code §§ 201, 202, and 203. (Id.) Plaintiff
seeks compensation, attorneys' fees, and costs.
(Id. ¶¶ 3, 5.)
August 3, 2016, Plaintiff filed a class action complaint
against Defendant. (Doc. No. 1.) On October 5, 2016, the
Magistrate Judge held an Early Neutral Evaluation (ENE).
(Doc. No. 8.) Although a settlement was not reached at the
ENE, parameters were set for a private mediation.
(Id.) On February 14, 2017, the parties participated
in an in-person mediation, at the conclusion of which a
mediator's proposal was issued. (Doc. No. 16-4, Konecky
Decl. ¶¶ 12-14.) On March 13, 2017, the mediator
confirmed that, after significant deliberation, both sides
had accepted the mediator's proposal. (Id.
¶ 15.) By the present motion, Plaintiff now seeks
approval of the settlement class; preliminary approval of the
settlement agreement and class notice; and a scheduling order
for further proceedings. (Doc. No. 16.)
the proposed settlement, Defendant will pay $1, 750, 000 to
establish a settlement fund to resolve the litigation.
(See Doc. No. 16-5, Konecky Decl. Ex. 1
(“Proposed Settlement”).) That amount does not
include the employer's share of payroll taxes on any wage
payments. (Id. ¶ 51) The settlement will be
divided proportionally according to the number of weeks each
class member worked. (Id. ¶ 56.) The class
members will receive payment from the settlement fund less
administrative costs; payments required under the Private
Attorney General Act of 2004 (“PAGA”); a reserve
fund; Plaintiff's service award; and attorneys' fees
and expenses. (Id. ¶¶ 57-61); Cal. Lab.
Code § 2699(i). Class members will not have to file
claims to receive their payment. (Proposed Settlement ¶
53(a)-(b).) The PAGA payment will take $87, 500 from the
settlement fund and set aside 75% of it for the California
Labor Workforce Development Agency (LWDA). (Id.
¶ 60.) The reserve fund will consist of 2% of the
settlement fund, and will pay for any late or unexpected
claims. (Id. ¶ 57.) Additionally, any remaining
finances in the reserve fund will be donated to the
parties' agreed upon cy pres beneficiary, Legal
Aid at Work (LAAW). (Id. ¶ 55.) The class
representative's service award is $7, 500. (Id.
¶ 58.) The parties agreed to a maximum attorney fee
award of $583, 333. (Id. ¶ 59.) Class members
need not submit claims to obtain their settlement check, and
notice of the plain terms of the settlement will be sent to
class members by first class mail. (Id. ¶
53(a)-(b).) Class members reserve the right to object to the
settlement, or to opt out. (Id. ¶ 53(f)-(g).)
None of the fund will revert back to Defendant. (Id.
the parties reach a settlement agreement prior to class
certification, the Court is under 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, the Court must first assess
whether a class exists, and second, determine whether the
proposed settlement is “‘fundamentally fair,
adequate, and reasonable.'” Id.
present case, Plaintiff seeks to certify a class pursuant to
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(b)(3) for purposes of
settlement only (Doc. No. 16-1 at 7.) The class includes all
individuals who have made at least one delivery in California
for Defendant while being classified as an independent
contractor, within four years prior to the filing of the
Complaint. (Doc. No. 1 ¶ 1.) A plaintiff seeking to
certify a class under Rule 23(b)(3) must first satisfy the
requirements of Rule 23(a). Fed.R.Civ.P. 23(b); see
Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. Dukes, 131 S.Ct. 2541, 2548
(2011). Once subsection (a) is satisfied, the purported class
must then fulfill the requirements of Rule 23(b)(3).
Rule 23(a) Requirements
23(a) establishes that one or more plaintiffs may sue on
behalf of class members if all of the following requirements
are met: (1) numerosity; (2) commonality; (3) typicality; ...