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Venegas v. Global Aircraft Service, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Maine

June 26, 2017

CHAISTOPHER VENEGAS et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
GLOBAL AIRCRAFT SERVICE, INC. and LUFTHANASA TECHNIK NORTH AMERICA HOLDING CORP., Defendants.

          DECISION AND ORDER ON CLASS ACTION SETTLEMENT AND ATTORNEY FEES

          Nancy Torresen United States Chief District Judge

         Before me is the Plaintiffs' unopposed motion for final approval of class action settlement (ECF No. 176) and the Plaintiffs' unopposed motion for attorney fees and reimbursement of litigation expenses (ECF No. 177). The Plaintiffs are sheet metal workers, mechanics, and painters working on an aircraft restoration project in Auburn, Maine who allege that Global Aircraft Service, Inc. (“GAS”) and Lufthansa Technik North America Holding Corporation (“LTNA”) improperly classified them as independent contractors rather than employees and seek unpaid overtime wages. The parties have come to an agreement to settle the case.

         I previously authorized the Plaintiffs to send notice of the settlement out to the class members. Order Authorizing Notice of Class Action Settlement (ECF No. 174). Notice of the settlement has been successful, reaching 76 of 81 class members. Seventy class members have filed claims forms and are entitled to a distribution from the settlement fund.

         After conducting a fairness hearing on June 15, 2017, as Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(e) requires, I conclude that the settlement is fair, reasonable, and adequate, that the attorney fees and expenses are reasonable, and that the service award to Mr. Venegas is warranted and reasonable.

         CLASS ACTION SETTLEMENT

         I. Settlement and Plan of Distribution

         A proposed class action settlement is subject to the following procedure:

(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 subdivision (e); the objection may be withdrawn only with the court's approval.

Fed. R. Civ. P. 23(e). Here, class members received individual notice of the settlement; there has been a hearing; there are no side agreements; no class members filed written objections; no class members appeared at the hearing. What remains, then, is for me to determine whether the settlement is “fair, reasonable, and adequate.”

         I consider the following factors to assess a class settlement: (1) comparison of the proposed settlement with the likely result of litigation; (2) stage of the litigation and the amount of discovery completed; (3) reaction of the class to the settlement; (4) quality of counsel; (5) conduct of the negotiations; and (6) prospects of the case, including risk, complexity, expense and duration. In re New Motor Vehicles ...


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