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Cuzick v. Zodiac U.S. Seat Shells, LLC

United States District Court, N.D. California

May 29, 2018

KYLE CUZICK, Plaintiff,


          HAYWOOD S. GILLIAM, JR., United States District Judge

         Pending before the Court are two unopposed motions in this class action. First, Plaintiff Kyle Cuzick, individually and on behalf of the settlement class as defined herein, moves for final approval of class action settlement. Dkt. No. 53. Second, Plaintiff moves the Court for an award of attorneys' fees and costs. Dkt. No. 50. The Court held a final fairness hearing on both motions on May 10, 2018. For the reasons stated below, the Court GRANTS IN PART the motion for final approval of class action settlement and the motion for attorneys' fees and costs.

         I. BACKGROUND

         A. Factual Background

         On May 25, 2016, Plaintiff filed this action in Alameda Superior Court, alleging that Defendant's pay, meal, and rest break practices violated the California Labor Code, California Unfair Competition Law, and the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”). Plaintiff then filed the operative First Amended Complaint on June 22, 2016. See Dkt. No. 1-4 (“FAC”). Plaintiff asserts eight causes of action: (1) failure to provide meal periods, Cal. Lab. Code §§ 204, 223, 226.7, 512, 1198; (2) failure to provide rest breaks, id. §§ 204, 223, 226.7, 1198; (3) failure to pay hourly and overtime wages, id. §§ 223, 510, 1194, 1197, 1198; (4) failure to provide accurate written wage statements, id. § 226; (5) failure to timely pay all final wages, id. §§ 201-203; (6) unfair and unlawful business practices, Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code §§ 17200 et seq.; (7) failure to compensate for all hours worked, 29 U.S.C. §§ 201 et seq.; and (8) statutory penalties under the Private Attorneys General Act, id. §§ 2698 et seq. FAC ¶¶ 20-134.

         Plaintiff worked for Defendant in an hourly wage position as a non-exempt employee from approximately November 2015 to March 2016. Id. ¶ 5. During this time, Plaintiff alleges that Defendant had a policy of requiring its employees to return to their work stations on or before the thirtieth minute of their thirty-minute meal break and on or before the tenth minute of their ten-minute rest period. Id. ¶¶ 28, 46. Moreover, Plaintiff states that Defendant would deduct meal break and rest periods from his and other non-exempt employees' timecards, regardless of whether Defendant actually provided them. Id. ¶¶ 32, 64-65. On the basis of these facts, Plaintiff seeks compensatory damages, statutory penalties, restitution, attorneys' fees and costs, as well as whatever relief “the Court deems just and proper.” See Id. at 21.

         B. Settlement Agreement

         Following extensive formal discovery and with the assistance of a private mediator, the parties entered into a settlement agreement. Dkt. No. 53-1 Ex. A (“SA”). The key terms are as follows:

         Class Definition: All individuals who were employed by Defendant in California as non-exempt employees between May 25, 2012, and October 11, 2017. Id. §§ 1.16-1.17. The parties have represented that there are approximately 1, 292 class members. Dkt. No. 53-1 ¶ 8.

         Monetary Relief: Defendants will pay a maximum of $952, 000.00 (the “Maximum Settlement Amount”), inclusive of: (a) payments to participating class members; (b) class counsel's attorneys' fees; (c) class counsel's and the class representative's litigation costs and associated expenses, which are capped at $10, 000; (d) the payment to the settlement administrator for claims administration costs; (e) enhancement payments to be made by Defendant to Kyle Cuzick (f) payment to the California Labor Workforce Development Agency as part of the consideration for the release of all released claims; and (g) all payroll taxes. SA §§ 1.7, 1.8, 10.

         The parties have estimated that individual class members' gross recovery, before deductions for taxes, fees, and other costs, will be approximately $737. Dkt. No. 53-1 ¶ 16.

         Release: The class, including Plaintiff, will release Defendant from all claims, whether known or unknown, that were asserted or could have been asserted arising from or related to allegations set forth in the complaint. SA § 7.1.

         Exclusion and Objection Procedures: A person in the settlement class may request to be excluded from the settlement by sending a written request. SA § 8.4. A class member may also object to the terms of the proposed settlement, the award of attorneys' fees, or Plaintiff's incentive award by sending a written objection. SA § 8.3. The class notice specified procedures for submitting a valid and timely objection or request for exclusion. See Dkt. No. 39-2, Exs. 1-2.

         Incentive Award: Plaintiff requests a Class Representative enhancement award of $10, 000. SA § 10.4. Defendant does not oppose this request. Id.

         Attorneys' Fees and Costs: Plaintiff has filed an application for attorneys' fees not to exceed $317, 333.33. SA § 10.6. Defendant does not oppose this request. Id.


         A. Class Certification

         Final approval of a class action settlement requires, as a threshold matter, an assessment of whether the class satisfies the requirements of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(a) and (b). Hanlon v. Chrysler Corp., 150 F.3d 1011, 1019-1022 (9th Cir. 1998). Because no facts that would affect the Court's reasoning have changed since the Court provisionally certified the nationwide FLSA overtime and California overtime and vacation classes under FRCP 23(a) and (b) on October 11, 2017, this order incorporates by reference its prior analysis under Rules 23(a) and (b). See Dkt. No. 45 at 4-7. This order also incorporates by reference its previous provisional certification of Plaintiff as class ...

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