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Black v. T-Mobile USA, Inc.

United States District Court, N.D. California

July 24, 2019

JESSE BLACK, Plaintiff,
T-MOBILE USA, INC, Defendant.



         Pending before the Court are Plaintiff's motions for final approval of class action settlement and for attorneys' fees, costs and expenses, and a class representative enhancement payment. Dkt. Nos. 63, 64. The Court held a final fairness hearing on June 13, 2019. Dkt. No. 67. For the reasons set forth below, the Court GRANTS final approval. The Court also GRANTS IN PART AND DENIES IN PART Plaintiff's motion for attorneys' fees, costs and expenses, and enhancement payment.

         I. BACKGROUND

         A. Factual Background

         Plaintiff Jesse Black filed this putative labor and employment class action in Alameda Superior Court on January 31, 2017. See Dkt. No. 1, Ex. A (“Compl.”). Defendant T-Mobile USA, Inc. (“T-Mobile”) removed the action to this Court in July 2017. Dkt. No. 1. In his Complaint, Plaintiff alleges that he worked for Defendant as a Senior Field Technician and was denied adequate overtime compensation as well as meal and rest periods from approximately 2008 through 2015. See Compl. ¶ 4. According to Plaintiff, Defendant had “a company-wide” policy of scheduling technicians for rotating “on-call” weeks in which they “had to be available 24/7 to respond to service calls” and “could not use that time freely for their own purpose.” Id. ¶¶ 46, 56.

         An on-call week would run from Monday at 5:00 p.m. through the following Monday at 7:59 a.m. Id. ¶ 46. Defendant paid technicians $22.47 per day during these on-call weeks, but “failed to pay Plaintiff and class members for the remainder of the time during which they were not free to use their time for their own purposes.” Id. Plaintiff further alleges that Defendant did not have a policy permitting its employees to take a second 30-minute meal period on days they worked in excess of 10 hours. Id. ¶ 48.

         On the basis of these facts, Plaintiff asserts nine causes of action under California law on behalf of himself and the putative class for: (1) unpaid overtime; (2) unpaid minimum wage; (3) failure to provide meal periods; (4) failure to provide rest periods; (5) failure to provide accurate wage statements and maintain payroll records; (6) failure to pay wages upon termination; (7) failure to provide reporting time pay; (8) unlawful business practices; and (9) unfair business practices. See Id. ¶¶ 39-115.

         The parties participated in mediation on August 21, 2018, and were able to agree on the principal terms of a settlement agreement. Dkt. No. 49. The parties filed their motion for preliminary approval of class action settlement on October 25, 2018, Dkt. No. 51, which the Court granted on February 8, 2019, Dkt. No. 56.

         B. Settlement Agreement

         Following extensive formal discovery and with the assistance of a mediator, the parties eventually entered into a settlement agreement on October 10, 2018. Dkt. No. 51-1 ¶¶ 4-6, Ex. 1 (“SA”). The key terms are as follows:

         Class Definition: The settlement includes all persons who have worked for Defendant as non-exempt, hourly-paid field technicians in California at any time from February 1, 2013 through the date of Preliminary Approval. SA ¶ 5.

         Settlement Benefits: Defendant will pay a total settlement amount of $980, 000, including settlement payments to all Class Members totaling an estimated $594, 580 after excluding settlement administrative costs estimated at $10, 000, any incentive awards, any attorneys' fees and costs award, and a payment of $18, 750 to the Labor Workforce Development Agency pursuant to the Private Attorneys General Act of 2004 (PAGA). SA ¶¶ 8, 13, 25; Dkt. No. 64 at 4. Individual settlement payments will be calculated proportionately based on the number of workweeks a Class Member worked during the class period. SA ¶ 35. Individual settlement amounts will average approximately $3, 110. Dkt. No. 64 at 2; Dkt. No. 64-2 ¶ 16.

         Release: All settlement Class Members will release:

all claims, rights, demands, liabilities, and causes of action, arising from, or related to, the claims alleged or which could have been alleged in the proposed First Amended Complaint based on the same set of operative pleaded facts, including: (i) all claims for unpaid wages, including overtime; (ii) all claims for meal and rest break violations; (iii) all claims for unpaid minimum wages; (iv) all claims for the failure to timely pay wages upon termination; (v) all claims for the failure to timely pay wages during employment, including but not limited to any on call time alleges to be compensable but not paid; (vi) all claims for wage statement violations; (vii) all claims for failure to pay reporting time compensation or paid sick leave; and (viii) all claims asserted through California Business & Professions Code §§ 17200, et seq., and California Labor Code §§ 2698, et seq. based on the preceding claims.

SA ¶ 21.

         Class Notice: A third-party settlement administrator will send class notices via U.S. mail to each member of the class, using a class list provided by Defendant. SA ¶ 39. The notice will include: the nature of the action, a summary of the settlement terms, and instructions on how to object to and opt out of the settlement, including relevant deadlines. See Dkt. No. 51-1, Ex. A (proposed notice).

         Opt-Out Procedure: The parties propose that any putative Class Member who does not wish to participate in the settlement must sign and postmark a written request for exclusion to the settlement administrator no later than 30 days after the date notice is mailed. SA ¶¶ 24, 44.

         Incentive Award: The Named Plaintiff will apply for an incentive award of no more than $10, 000, subject to the approval of the Court. SA ¶¶ 7, 31.

         Attorneys' Fees and Costs: Plaintiff will file an application for attorneys' fees not to exceed one-third of the settlement fund ($326, 667), and costs not to exceed $20, 000. SA ¶ 2. // // //

         II. ...

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