United States District Court, C.D. California
JERMAINE MCNEAL and GENOA SOSA, on behalf of themselves and all others similarly situated, Plaintiffs,
RCM TECHNOLOGIES USA, INC., a Nevada Corporation, and DOES 1 - 100, inclusive, Defendants.
RUKIN (SBN 178336) JESSICA RIGGIN (SBN 281712) RUKIN HYLAND
LLP Attorneys for Plaintiffs
ORDER APPROVING AWARD OF SERVICE PAYMENTS,
ATTORNEYS' FEES, AND COSTS
HONORABLE OTIS D. WRIGHT II United States District Court
10, 2017, this Court held a hearing on Plaintiffs' Motion
for Order Approving Award of Service Payments, Attorneys'
Fees, and Costs, at which all named parties were represented.
Based on the papers filed with the Court and presentations
made to the Court at the hearing, the Court finds that the
requested service awards and requested attorneys' fees
and costs are fair and reasonable. The Court hereby grants
Plaintiffs' Motion as detailed below.
The Requested Service Awards Are
Ninth Circuit, “[i]ncentive awards are fairly typical
in class action cases.” Rodriguez v. West
Publishing Corp., 563 F.3d 948, 958 (9th Cir. 2009).
Such awards “are intended to compensate class
representatives for work done on behalf of the class, to make
up for financial or reputational risk undertaken in bringing
the action, and, sometimes, to recognize their willingness to
act as a private attorney general.” Id. at
958-59. In evaluating a request for a service award for a
class representative, courts consider all “relevant
factors including the actions the plaintiff has taken to
protect the interests of the class, the degree to which the
class has benefited from those actions, … the amount
of time and effort the plaintiff expended in pursuing the
litigation … and reasonable fears of workplace
retaliation.” Staton v. Boeing Co., 327 F.3d
938, 977 (9th Cir. 2003) (internal citation omitted).
on the arguments and evidence submitted by the Plaintiffs, I
find that a $10, 000 service award for each of the two named
Plaintiffs is reasonable and appropriate. Each of the named
Plaintiffs submitted a declaration detailing the ways in
which he or she assisted Class Counsel in the litigation of
this case, including by reviewing pleadings and motions,
consulting regularly with Class Counsel about case status and
strategy, searching for relevant documents, traveling to and
attending the full-day mediation, and reviewing the
Settlement Agreement that was ultimately reached. In
addition, each of the named Plaintiffs took a significant
risk by becoming a class representative in this action. If
Plaintiffs had not prevailed, there was a risk that they may
have been liable for Defendant's costs and attorneys'
fees. Plaintiffs also took on the burdens and risks
associated with being named Plaintiffs in a publicly filed
lawsuit, including the risk of workplace retaliation or that
potential employers might look unfavorably upon the decision
to sue a former employer.
addition, I find that the incentive awards are proportional
to the range of possible awards under the settlement. See
Staton, 327 F.3d at 976-77 (court must balance
“the number of named plaintiffs receiving incentive
payments, the proportion of the payments relative to the
settlement amount, and the size of each payment”);
Wren v. RGIS Inventory Specialists, No. C-06-05778
JCS, 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 38667, at *109-110 (N.D. Cal. Apr.
1, 2011) (examining range of settlement awards and approving
$5, 000 settlement awards where average payout was $207.69
because some of the individual class members received more
than $5, 000). Indeed, “courts often examine whether
incentive awards are proportional to the range of settlement
awards.” Burden v. Selectquote Ins. Servs.,
2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 109110, at *18-19 (N.D. Cal. Aug. 1,
2013). In this case, each class member will recover an
average of $1, 951.89, with some class members recovering in
excess of $25, 000. Given that class members will recover
significantly more than service awards requested, I find that
the service awards requested are fair and reasonable,
particularly in light of the actions Plaintiffs have taken to
benefit the class, the degree to which the class has
benefited from these actions, and the risks and burdens the
Plaintiffs took on by serving as class representatives.
the requested payments to the named Plaintiffs are
appropriate and justified as part of the overall Settlement,
and I therefore approve service awards in the amount of $10,
000 for each of the two named Plaintiffs: Jermaine McNeal and
The Requested Attorneys' Fees and Costs Are
Ninth Circuit has affirmed the use of two separate methods
for determining attorneys' fees in common fund cases: the
percentage method and the lodestar method. Hanlon v.
Chrysler Corp., 150 F.3d 1011, 1029 (9th Cir. 1998). The
goal of both the lodestar and percentage methods is the
determination of a reasonable fee that is consistent with
market rates. In re Coordinated Pretrial Proceedings in
Petroleum Products Antitrust Litig., 109 F.3d 602, 607
(9th Cir. 1997) (“Reasonableness is the goal, and
mechanical or formulaic application of either method, where
it yields an unreasonable result, can be an abuse of
discretion.”). A “lodestar” calculation
multiplies the number of hours reasonably expended on the
litigation by counsel's reasonable hourly rates,
depending on the region and the experience of the lawyer.
In re Bluetooth Headset Prods. Liab. Litig., 654
F.3d 935, 941 (9th Cir. 2011).
that it is appropriate to use lodestar method under the
present circumstances, see Adventist Christian School v.
Carrier Corp., No. 05-cv-05437, 2008 U.S. Dist. LEXIS
106515, at *4 (W.D. Wash. Apr. 24, 2008) ("Because the
attorneys' fees will be paid separately by [defendant]
without reducing the relief available to the Class, the
lodestar method is appropriate"), and that the lodestar
method supports Class Counsel's requested attorneys'
fees. Class Counsel submitted a billing summary reflecting
that Class Counsel's lodestar through June 2, 2017,
totals in excess of $123, 000.00. Class Counsel's billing
summaries reflect the hours worked by individual timekeepers,
the hourly rates of those timekeepers, and the time spent on
various categories of activities, including case development
and investigation, discovery and document review, pleading
and motions, and time spent negotiating and carrying out the
settlement in this matter. The billing summary does not
include the additional lodestar time Class Counsel expect to
expend finalizing and filing this motion, preparing for and
attending the final fairness hearing, speaking with Class
Members who may have questions about the settlement, and
ensuring that the settlement is properly administered.
I find that Class Counsel's hourly rates are reasonable
given their experience, expertise, and the prevailing rates
for attorneys performing similar work. Under the lodestar
method, courts should apply rates commensurate with hourly
rates for lawyers of “reasonably comparable skill,
experience and reputation.” Camacho v. Bridgeport
Financial, Inc., 523 F.3d 973, 979 (9th Cir. 2008). The
“relevant community” for the purposes of
determining the reasonable hourly rate is the district in
which the lawsuit proceeds. Barjon v. Dalton, 132
F.3d 496, 500 (9th Cir. 1997).
attorneys that contributed work to this case are experienced
in complex class action litigation and regularly litigate
cases in California federal and state courts. The partners
managing the litigation have an extensive history of
successfully litigating complex class action cases. Class
Counsel have also provided declarations from other
experienced wage and hour class action attorneys in Southern
California who attest to Class Counsel's reputation in
the field and the reasonableness of their rates. I therefore
find that Class Counsel's hourly rates are reasonable,
comparable to those of other class action attorneys with
similar experience and years of practice, and within the
range of those found to be permissible for attorneys
practicing class action litigation in the Central
District/Los Angeles area market.
the hours recorded by Class Counsel are reasonable. Class
Counsel has spent over 250 hours litigating this case to
date. The summaries set forth in the Riggin Fee Declaration
describe the work performed by Class Counsel, which includes
fact investigation, drafting the complaints, propounding
written discovery, drafting a mediation brief, preparing for
and attending a mediation, negotiating the settlement,
working with the Claims Administrator, and other tasks
necessary to this litigation. I find that the hours ...