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Curtis v. Scholarship Storage

United States District Court, D. Maine

January 25, 2016

ROBERT CURTIS, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
SCHOLARSHIP STORAGE d/b/a Business As Usual, et al., Defendants.

ORDER ON CERTIFICATION OF SETTLEMENT CLASS

Nancy Torresen United States Chief District Judge

The Plaintiffs Robert Curtis and Benjamin Krauter brought this hybrid collective and class action on behalf of themselves and on behalf of other similarly situated individuals who were working for or had worked for Business As Usual (“BAU”). Complaint (ECF No. 1). The Plaintiffs allege that BAU had misclassified them and other similarly situated delivery and shuttle drivers as independent contractors rather than employees. In particular, the Plaintiffs alleged that as a result of the misclassification, they had borne expenses which should have been borne by BAU, that they had not been paid for all hours worked, and that on occasion they were due overtime for weeks in which they worked in excess of 40 hours. Complaint ¶ 1. The Plaintiffs claimed that the misclassification and alleged failure to pay them properly violated the Fair Labor Standards Act, 29 U.S.C. § 207 et seq., and Maine’s wage and overtime laws, including 26 M.R.S.A. §§ 626, 629, 664, and 667.

The Plaintiffs filed a motion for conditional certification of the FLSA claims and I conditionally certified the FLSA collective. Order on Pls.’ Mot. for Conditional Certification (ECF No. 36). Following the exchange of written discovery, the parties have notified me that they have reached a settlement for all the claims. Now before me is the Plaintiff’s motion for certification of a settlement class.

DISCUSSION

I. Certification

A. Rule 23 Class Actions

1. Legal Standard

A party seeking class certification must first demonstrate that all requirements of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(a) are satisfied. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. Dukes, 131 S.Ct. 2541, 2548 (2011). These requirements are:

(1) the class is so numerous that joinder of all members is impracticable; (2) there are questions of law or fact common to the class; (3) the claims or defenses of the representative parties are typical of the claims or defenses of the class; and (4) the representative parties will fairly and adequately protect the interests of the class.

Fed. R. Civ. P. 23(a). Next, the named plaintiffs must show that the class is maintainable under one of the types of class actions described in Rule 23(b). Dukes, 131 S.Ct. at 2548. “To qualify for certification under Rule 23(b)(3), a class must meet two requirements beyond the Rule 23(a) prerequisites: Common questions must ‘predominate over any questions affecting only individual members’; and class resolution must be ‘superior to other available methods for the fair and efficient adjudication of the controversy.’ ” Amchem Prods., Inc. v. Windsor, 521 U.S. 591, 615 (1997) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 23(b)(3)).

a. Rule 23(a) Requirements

The class meets the Rule 23(a) requirements of numerosity, commonality, typicality, and adequacy.

i. Numerosity

Rule 23(a)(1) requires that the class be “so numerous that joinder of all members is impracticable.” “ ‘Impracticability’ does not mean ‘impossibility, ’ but only the difficulty or inconvenience of joining all members of the class.” Advert. Specialty Nat. Assoc. v. Fed. Trade Comm’n, 238 F.2d 108, 119 (1st Cir. 1956). Here, there are approximately 60 class members. See Master Schedule of Payments (ECF No. 60-1). Where 40 or more employees are affected, the courts generally have found the numerosity requirement of Rule 23 to have been met. See, e.g., Coffin v. Bow ater, Inc., 228 F.R.D. 397, 402 (D. Me. 2005); see also William B. Rubenstein, Newberg on Class Actions § 3:12 (5th ed. 2014) (“As a general guideline, . . . a class of 40 or more members raises a presumption of impracticability of joinder based on numbers alone.”). Plaintiffs need to show only that it is difficult or inconvenient to join all members of the class, not that it is impossible to do so. Cent. States Se. and Sw. Areas Health and ...


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