United States District Court, N.D. California
ORDER APPROVING SETTLEMENT RE: ECF NO. 125
TIGAR United States District Judge
the Court is the parties' joint motion for approval of
settlement. ECF No. 125.The Court will grant the motion.
Mihail Slavkov, Nikola Vlaovic, Martin Arnaudov, Dale Weise,
Kevin Yarnell, Carlos Gomez, Francisco Magana, Robert
Gutierrez and Jose Alfredo Vasquez
(“Plaintiffs”), allege that Defendants Fast Water
Heater Partners I, LP d/b/a Fast Water Heater Company; FWH
Acquisition Company, LLC d/b/a Fast Water Heater Company;
Jeffrey David Jordan; and Jason Sparks Hanleybrown
(“Defendants”), violated the Fair Labor Standards
Act (“FLSA”) and the Private Attorneys General
Act (“PAGA”), among other allegations in the
operative Third Amended Complaint (“TAC”). ECF
No. 115. Defendants deny Plaintiffs' allegations. ECF No.
multiple attempts, the parties reached a settlement, and on
June 14, 2017, the parties filed a joint motion for approval
of that settlement. ECF No. 125 (filing includes the motion
and Settlement Agreement). The total amount of the settlement
is $345, 000.00. Settlement Agreement ¶ V.A. Of that
amount, $7, 500 is PAGA penalties, which will go to the
California Labor and Workforce Development Agency. Settlement
Agreement ¶ V.B. Plaintiffs will receive the following
ECF No. 129 at 6-7. The remainder of the settlement
compensates Plaintiffs' counsel for their fees and costs.
ECF No. 125 at 6. The Settlement Agreement also includes a
general release for the California Plaintiffs, and, for the
Oregon Plaintiffs, a release of any claims that were or could
have been brought based on the allegations in the TAC.
Agreement ¶ VI. The parties agree that Court approval is
required to settle Plaintiffs' FLSA and PAGA claims.
was enacted for the purpose of protecting workers from
substandard wages and oppressive working hours.
Barrentine v. Arkansas-Best Freight System, Inc.,
450 U.S. 728, 739 (1981). The Eleventh Circuit has explained that, to
approve a FLSA settlement, a court must conclude that the
settlement agreement is “a fair and reasonable
resolution of a bona fide dispute.” Lynn's Food
Stores, Inc. v. United States, 679 F.2d 1350, 1353-55
(11th Cir. 1982). In this district, courts have concluded
that settlements are reasonable when they equal between 70%
and 100% of a plaintiff's FLSA damages. See Lee v.
The Timberland Co., No. C 07-2367 JF, 2008 WL 2492295,
at *2 (N.D. Cal. June 19, 2008) (70%); Nen Thio v. Genji,
LLC, 14 F.Supp.3d 1324, 1337-38 (N.D. Cal. 2014) (100%);
Dunn v. Teachers Ins. & Annuity Ass'n of
Am., No. 13-CV-05456-HSG, 2016 WL 153266, at *5 (N.D.
Cal. Jan. 13, 2016) (over 100%); Kempen v. Matheson
Tri-Gas, Inc., No. 15-CV-00660-HSG, 2016 WL 4073336, at
*11 (N.D. Cal. Aug. 1, 2016) (100%). Here, the payments to
the individual Plaintiffs represent 100-344% of their
estimated FLSA damages. ECF No. 129 at 6-7. This is a
reasonable resolution of Plaintiffs' claims, particularly
in light of the significant risk in litigating the case
through to trial. ECF No. 125 at 9 (e.g., Defendants would
dispute liability and challenge joinder). Moreover, every
Plaintiff endorsed the Settlement Agreement. ECF No. 125 at
releases negotiated under the Settlement Agreement are also
reasonable in light of the fact that they apply only to the
individual Plaintiffs; the class claims were dropped from the
TAC. ECF No. 115. Finally, Plaintiffs' attorneys have
accepted a substantial reduction in fees compared with their
lodestar in this case, which they further reduced to ensure
that each named Plaintiff received 100% of his or her FLSA
damages. ECF No. 125 at 9-10; ECF No. 129 at 6.
Court approves the settlement of Plaintiffs' FLSA claims.
reviewing court may judicially approve settlement of PAGA
claims after a dispute has arisen. See Iskanian v. CLS
Transp. Los Angeles, LLC, 59 Cal.4th 348, 383 (2014);
In re Uber FCRA Litig., No. 14-CV-05200-EMC, 2017 WL
2806698, at *7 n.4 (N.D. Cal. June 29, 2017). Here, the Court
concludes that the $7, 500 PAGA payment is reasonable when
measured against the total overall settlement and the
possible weaknesses in Plaintiffs' case. Id.
(approving $7, 500 PAGA payment); Chavez v. Lumber
Liquidators, Inc., No. CV-09-4812 SC, 2015 WL 2174168,
at *2 (N.D. Cal. May 8, 2015) ...