United States District Court, E.D. California
ORDER GRANTING FINAL APPROVAL OF CLASS ACTION
SETTLEMENT AND DISMISSAL OF CLASS CLAIMS (DOC. NO.
matter is before the court on June 26, 2017, for a hearing
concerning final approval of the proposed class action
settlement and dismissal of the class claims. (Doc. No. 225.)
Attorney Matthew Galin appeared telephonically on behalf of
plaintiff Robin Brewer, and attorney Malcolm Segal appeared
telephonically on behalf of defendant Scott Salyer. Oral
argument was heard and the matter was taken under submission.
For the reasons stated below, the court will grant final
approval of the proposed class action settlement.
September 21, 2006, plaintiff Robin Brewer filed a class
action complaint against defendant, president of a non-party
company, SK Foods. (Doc. No. 1.) Plaintiff's complaint is
based on allegations that defendant knowingly hired
undocumented immigrants at SK Foods for the purpose of
depressing wage rates.
filed a first amended complaint (“FAC”) on June
1, 2007. (Doc. No. 38.) In the FAC, plaintiff alleged
violations of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt
Organizations Act (“RICO”), 18 U.S.C. §
1961, based on the predicate offense of violating the
Immigration and Nationality Act (“INA”).
(Id.) The specific INA violation plaintiff alleged
involved 8 U.S.C. § 1324(a)(3), which prohibits
importing undocumented aliens for employment purposes.
18, 2009, the court granted plaintiff's motion for class
certification. (Doc. No. 101.) In granting the
plaintiff's motion, the court certified a class of
“All Seasonal Hourly Wage Earners employed by SK Foods
between June 1, 2003, and June 1, 2008.” (Id.
at 18.) The court subsequently granted plaintiff's motion
to expand the class to include all seasonal workers employed
by SK Foods from September 22, 2002, to the date of filing a
second amended complaint.” (Doc. No. 112.)
Plaintiff's Second Amended Complaint (“SAC”)
reflecting the expanded class was filed on July 21, 2009.
(Doc. No. 113.)
January 5, 2010, defendant Salyer was charged by way of
criminal complaint with multiple counts of mail and wire
fraud in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 1341, 1343.
See United States v. Frederick Scott Salyer, Case
No. 2:10-cr-00061 TLN (E.D. Cal.)). On February 18, 2010, the
federal grand jury for this district indicted him on charges
of engaging in racketeering activity through a pattern of
mail and wire fraud as well as bribery in violation of 18
U.S.C. § 1962 along with other charges. (Id.)
During this same period, SK Foods went into involuntary
bankruptcy, with Bradley Sharp appointed as Trustee.
(Id.) Because of the extensive litigation
surrounding the bankruptcy and the criminal proceedings
against defendant Salyer, the court stayed discovery in this
action. (Doc. No. 173.)
Salyer entered a guilty plea in his criminal case in March
2012 and was incarcerated between April 2013 and November
2016. (Doc. No. 210 at 3.) On January 20, 2017, the court
lifted the discovery stay in the present case, and required
the parties to file a motion for settlement, voluntary
dismissal, compromise or such other motion required to move
the matter toward disposition within sixty days of the date
of the order. (Doc. No. 224.)
March 14, 2017, plaintiff filed an unopposed motion for
preliminary approval of class action settlement and dismissal
of claims. (Doc. No. 225.) Under the proposed settlement
agreement, the class will dismiss all claims without
prejudice, with each side to bear its own costs. (Doc. No.
226 at 5.) On April 18, 2017, this court granted preliminary
approval of the settlement agreement and authorized the
proposed form of notice to class members. (Doc. No. 230.)
conducting the final fairness hearing and considering the
terms of the settlement, the court now addresses whether the
proposed settlement is fair, reasonable, and adequate.
See Mitchinson v. Love's Travel Stops & Country
Stores, No. 1:15-cv-01474-DAD-BAM, 2017 WL 2289342, at
*2 (E.D. Cal. May 25, 2017).
have long recognized that settlement class actions present
unique due process concerns for absent class members.”
In re Bluetooth Headset Prods. Liab. Litig., 654
F.3d 935, 946 (9th Cir. 2011) (citation and internal
quotations omitted). To protect the rights of absent class
members, Rule 23(e) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure
requires that the court approve all class action settlements
“only after a hearing and on finding that it is fair,
reasonable, and adequate.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 23(e)(2);
Bluetooth, 654 F.3d at 946.
of a proposed class action settlement ordinarily involves two
hearings. See Manual for Complex Litigation (4th)
§ 21.632. First, the court conducts a preliminary
fairness evaluation. If the court makes a preliminary
determination on the fairness, reasonableness, and adequacy
of the settlement terms, the parties are directed to prepare
the notice of proposed settlement to the class members.
Id. (noting that if the parties move for both class
certification and preliminary approval, the certification
hearing and preliminary fairness evaluation can usually be
combined). Second, the court holds a final fairness hearing
to determine whether to approve the settlement. Id; see
also Narouz v. Charter Commc'ns, Inc., 591 F.3d
1261, 1266-67 (9th Cir. 2010).