United States District Court, N.D. California
JOSHUA CAUDLE and KRYSTLE WHITE, individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated, Plaintiffs,
SPRINT/UNITED MANAGEMENT COMPANY, a Kansas corporation; and DOES 1 through 100, Defendant.
ORDER GRANTING FINAL APPROVAL OF CLASS SETTLEMENT AND
GRANTING IN PART MOTION FOR ATTORNEY'S FEES
WILLIAM ALSUP UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
wage-and-hour class action, plaintiffs move for final
approval of a proposed settlement agreement and for
attorney's fees and expenses. Defendant does not oppose,
but there is one objection. For the reasons stated below, the
objection is Overruled. To the extent stated
below, the motion for final approval of the class settlement
is Granted. The motion for attorney's
fees and expenses is Granted in part.
orders set forth the detailed background of this case
(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
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 from the Sprint Promoter Score
Adjustment program for alleged unlawful deductions from
employees' wages under California Labor Code Sections
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 addressed 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 - derived from the first class. Both Joshua Caudle
and Krystle White became class representatives (id.
at 12). Following certification, the parties reached a class
settlement (Dkt. No. 63-1 ¶ 9).
2019 order granted plaintiffs' motion for preliminary
approval of a proposed class settlement (Dkt. No. 68). That
order also advised that both the requested attorney's
fees and incentive award would be subject to reduction at the
final approval stage. The order also approved, as to form and
content, a class notice by mail and website.
settlement administrator mailed the approved notice packets
via first class mail on July 26, 2019, but several names and
addresses in the class list were transposed. The settlement
administrator then mailed corrected notice packets, with
extended response dates for class members, on August 23,
2019. As of the hearing, 129 packets were returned. The
settlement administrator re-mailed 103 notice packets to
forwarding addresses obtained from either the Post Office,
the Class, or from reputable third-party search tools.
Ultimately, out of 2, 288 class members, 31 notice packets
were undeliverable because the settlement administrator could
not find the class member (Dkt. 81-1 ¶¶ 6-11).
now move for final approval of the proposed settlement of $4,
000, 000 and for attorney's fees, expenses, and
name-plaintiffs' incentive awards. Class counsel seek $1,
000, 000 in attorney's fees (comprising 25% of the fund),
litigation expenses of $34, 687.80, $5, 000 in incentive
payment to Plaintiff Caudle, and $3, 000 in incentive payment
to Plaintiff White. Defendant does not oppose. This order
follows full briefing and oral argument (Dkt. Nos. 73, 81).
Final Approval of Class Settlement.
FRCP 23(e), court approval is required for any settlement
agreement that will bind absent class members. When a
proposed settlement agreement is presented, the district
court must perform two tasks: (1) direct notice in a
reasonable manner to all class members who would be bound by
the proposal; and (2) approve the settlement only after a
hearing and on finding that the terms of the agreement are
fair, reasonable, and adequate. FRCP 23(e)(1)-(2).
Adequacy of Notice.
notice must be “reasonably calculated, under all the
circumstances, to apprise interested parties of the pendency
of the action and afford them an opportunity to present their
objections.” Mullane v. Central Hanover Bank &
Tr. Co., 339 U.S. 306, 314 (1950) (citations omitted).
It must also describe “the terms of the settlement in
sufficient detail to alert those with adverse viewpoints to
investigate and to come forward and be heard.”
Mendoza v. Tucson Sch. Dist. No. 1, 623 F.2d 1338,
1352 (9th Cir. 1980). The undersigned judge previously
approved the form, content, and planned distribution of the
class notice (Dkt. No. 68).
failure of notice to 31 class members is concerning (Dkt. No.
81-1 at ¶ 11). The undersigned judge was inclined to
exclude these members from the class as they have not had the
opportunity to opt out or object to this proposed settlement.
Realistically, however, litigation costs are likely to
inhibit later suit against Sprint by the 31. Upon due
reflection, the better course in this case is to keep the 31
in the class and bind them to the settlement because their
portion of the settlement fund will be kept safe in their
names with the Controller of California. Class members need
not file a claim with the administrator - checks will be sent
automatically. The settlement provides:
After the 180-day check cashing period, funds from any
settlement checks that remain uncashed will escheat to the
California State Controller for deposit in the State of
California Unclaimed Property Fund in the name of the
Participating Class Member whose check was not cashed, where
the Participating Class Member can later claim the funds.
the best course to ensure the 31 class members who did not
receive notice will, nonetheless, obtain some settlement from
Sprint (Dkt. No. 81-1 at ¶¶ 3, 4). This order