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Caudle v. Sprint/United Management Co.

United States District Court, N.D. California

June 28, 2019

JOSHUA CAUDLE and KRYSTLE WHITE, individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated, Plaintiffs,
v.
SPRINT/UNITED MANAGEMENT COMPANY, a Kansas corporation; and DOES 1 through 100, Defendant.

          ORDER GRANTING PRELIMINARY APPROVAL OF CLASS SETTLEMENT

          WILLIAM ALSUP UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         INTRODUCTION

         In this wage-and-hour class action, plaintiffs move for preliminary approval of a class settlement agreement. For the reasons stated below, the motion is Granted, reserving on final approval and on any incentive award, attorney's fees, and costs later.

         STATEMENT

         The background of this action has been set forth in a prior order and needs not be discussed in detail herein (see Dkt. No. 45). In brief, defendant Sprint/United Management Company sells mobile phone devices and services to retail customers. In February 2016, Sprint instituted a redesigned incentive compensation plan called the Sprint Promoter Score Adjustment program, which remained in effect until March 2017. This program allegedly made an unlawful 10% “across-the-board deduction” from employees' individually earned commission based on factors outside the individual employees' control and unrelated to the individual employees' efforts regarding a particular sale or transaction.

         Plaintiffs Joshua Caudle and Krystle White - a former store manager and former lead retail consultant, respectively - worked in various northern California Sprint retail store locations. They brought the instant action in November 2017, asserting various claims arising out of the Sprint Promoter Score Adjustment program for alleged unlawful deductions from employees' wages under California Labor Code Sections 221-23.

         An order dated December 18, 2018, certified three classes relating to the deductions made under the Sprint Promoter Score Adjustment program (Dkt. No. 45 at 11-12). The first class was directly based on Sprint's policy at issue (i.e., the Sprint Promoter Score Adjustment program). The other two certified classes - the wage statement and waiting time classes - are derivative of the first class. Both Joshua Caudle and Krystle White were appointed as class representatives (id. at 12). Following class certification, the parties reached a settlement by ultimately accepting a mediator's proposal (Dkt. No. 63-1 ¶ 9).

         Plaintiffs now move for preliminary approval of the settlement agreement. This order follows a brief from plaintiffs, a statement of non-opposition from defendant, and oral argument.

         ANALYSIS

         “A settlement should be approved if ‘it is fundamentally fair, adequate and reasonable.' ” Torrisi v. Tuscon Elec. Power Co., 8 F.3d 1370, 1375 (9th Cir. 1993) (citation omitted). Preliminary approval is appropriate if “the proposed settlement appears to be the product of serious, informed, non-collusive negotiations, has no obvious deficiencies, does not improperly grant preferential treatment to class representatives or segments of the class, and falls within the range of possible approval.” In re Tableware Antitrust Litig., 484 F.Supp.2d 1078, 1079 (N.D. Cal. 2007) (Chief Judge Vaughn Walker). Here, the proposed settlement agreement satisfies these requirements.

         1. Proposed Settlement.

         Under the proposed settlement, the key terms would be as follows:

         Net Settlement Fund: The net settlement fund would be $4, 000, 000 minus attorney's fees and costs, incentive payments, administrative expenses, and payment to the Labor & Workforce Development Agency (“LWDA”) for civil penalties under the Labor Code Private Attorneys General Act (“PAGA”) (Dkt. No. 63 at 1), equaling to an estimated $2, 622, 000 (Dkt. No. 67-1 ¶¶ 3.1, 3.1(e)). The fund would be composed as follows.

         1. Incentive Award: Caudle and White plan to request an incentive award of $5, 000 and $3, 000, respectively, for a total of $8, 000. The settlement agreement, however, is not contingent on approval of the incentive award (id. ¶ 3.1(b)).

         2. Attorney's Fees and Costs: Class counsel plan to request an award of attorney's fees of $1, 000, 000 and costs of $50, 000. Any unapproved portion of the request for fees and costs would be added to the net settlement fund and distributed to the class on a pro rata basis. The settlement agreement is not ...


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