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Curtis v. Scholarship Storage Inc.

United States District Court, D. Maine

May 31, 2016

ROBERT CURTIS, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
SCHOLARSHIP STORAGE INC., et al., Defendants.

          ORDER ON FINAL SETTLEMENT APPROVAL AND ATTORNEYS’ FEES

          Nancy Torresen United States Chief District Judge.

         Before the Court is a request for final approval of the settlement of all claims in this suit (ECF No. 83) and a motion for attorneys’ fees and costs (ECF No. 84). For the reasons stated below, the settlement is APPROVED and the motion for attorneys’ fees is GRANTED.

         BACKGROUND

         This case concerns wages owed to delivery and shuttle drivers of Scholarship Storage d/b/a Business as Usual (“BAU”) under the Fair Labor Standards Act (the “FLSA”), 29 U.S.C. §§ 207, 255, and under Maine law, 26 M.R.S. §§ 664(3), 629(1). Through negotiations, the parties agreed to settle their dispute in advance of trial. In January 2016 I authorized Plaintiffs to circulate notices of the proposed settlement to potential class and collective action members. Order Notice to Class and Establishing Schedule for Further Action (ECF No. 69). In February 2016, after notice had been sent to the class, Plaintiffs’ attorney notified me that he had failed to notify approximately 42 class members of the proposed settlement and that the individual settlement computations sent to those class members were inaccurate. Letter from Jeffrey Neil Young Esq. (ECF No. 87). In March 2016, I authorized counsel to send an amended notice to the class. Counsel then appeared before me for a final fairness hearing on May 23, 2016. I must now decide whether to finally approve the settlement of all claims in this matter and whether to award attorneys’ fees to Plaintiffs’ counsel.

         DISCUSSION

         I. Settlement

         A. Legal Standard

         1. Rule 23

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(e) requires the following for approval of a class action settlement:

(1) The court must direct notice in a reasonable manner to all class members who would be bound by the proposal.
(2) If the proposal would bind class members, the court may approve it only after a hearing and on finding that it is fair, reasonable, and adequate.
(3) The parties seeking approval must file a statement identifying any agreement made in connection with the proposal.
(4) If the class action was previously certified under Rule 23(b)(3), the court may refuse to approve a settlement unless it affords a new opportunity to request exclusion to individual class members who had an earlier opportunity to request exclusion but did not do so.
(5) Any class member may object to the proposal if it requires court approval under this subdivision (e); the objection may be withdrawn only with the court’s approval.

         Fed. R. Civ. P. 23(e). The following factors are relevant for determining whether a settlement is “fair, reasonable, and adequate” under Rule 23(e)(2):

(1) comparison of the proposed settlement with the likely result ...

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