United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Columbia Division
RACHEL TURNER, individually and on behalf of all other similarly situated individuals, Plaintiff,
CONDUSTRIAL, INC. D/B/A MEDUSTRIAL HEALTHCARE AND STAFFING SERVICES, MEDUSTRIAL HEALTHCARE and MEDUSTRIAL HEALTHCARE REFERRAL SERVICES; CLAUDE ANTHONY DURHAM; THOMAS MAYNARD SEARS, JR.; and DOLORES LISSETTE COLLACHI F/K/A DOLORES LISSETTE SHOEMAKER, Defendants.
ORDER OF FINAL SETTLEMENT APPROVAL AND DISMISSAL WITH
C. Coggins, Jr., United States District Judge
initiated this collective action pursuant to the Fair Labor
Standards Act (“FLSA”). After a joint motion by
the parties, the Court granted preliminary approval of a
settlement and certified a settlement class. ECF No. 88.
Thereafter, the parties provided notice to all potential
class members and, after the conclusion of the opt-in period,
filed a Joint Motion for Settlement and Dismissal with
Prejudice. ECF No. 104. The Court requested additional
briefing on the issue of the reasonableness of attorneys'
fees and costs, and Plaintiffs filed a memorandum and
supporting documents. ECF No. 107. Additionally, the Court
held a settlement hearing in order to ensure that the
proposed final settlement was fair, reasonable, and in
accordance with the appropriate legal standards. ECF No. 108.
After reviewing the filings, arguments of counsel, and
relevant law, the Court approves the parties' proposed
final settlement and dismisses this action with prejudice as
set forth below.
HEREBY FOUND, ORDERED, ADJUDGED AND DECREED THAT:
Court hereby finally approves the settlement set forth in the
Parties' Settlement Agreement as being fair, just,
reasonable, and adequate, and in the best interests of
Plaintiff and the opt-in Plaintiffs. The settlement reflects
a compromised resolution of a bona fide dispute, which is
fair and reasonable to all parties. See Irvine v.
Destination Wild Dunes Mgmt., Inc., 204 F.Supp.3d 846,
849 (D.S.C. 2016) (“Although the Fourth Circuit has not
directly addressed what factors district courts should
consider when analyzing proposed FLSA settlements, district
courts tend to follow the analysis the Eleventh Circuit put
forth in Lynn's Food Stores: (1) Is there a
bona fide dispute? (2) Is the proposed settlement fair and
reasonable? (citations omitted)). Specifically, the Court has
“consider[ed] the following factors: (1) the extent of
discovery that has taken place; (2) the stage of the
proceedings, including the complexity, expense and likely
duration of the litigation; (3) the absence of fraud or
collusion in the settlement; (4) the experience of counsel
who have represented the plaintiffs; (5) the opinions of
class counsel and class members after receiving notice of the
settlement whether expressed directly or through failure to
object; and (6) the probability of plaintiffs' success on
the merits and the amount of the settlement in relation to
the potential recovery.” Id. (internal
citation and quotation omitted).
Moreover, the Court finds that the form, content, and
procedures of the Notice that was distributed to the Class
Members constituted the best notice practicable under the
circumstances, and constituted valid, due, and sufficient
notice to all persons in the Class, complying fully with the
requirement of the Constitution of the United States, 29
U.S.C. § 216(b), and any other applicable laws. The
representations by the Parties, including those contained in
the declaration submitted by Plaintiff's Counsel,
demonstrate that Plaintiff's Counsel went to great
lengths to locate and provide notice to all potential Class
Members. After carefully and thoroughly reviewing the notice
process, the Court is satisfied that every good faith effort
was made to locate and provide notice to all potential Class
Members, rendering the settlement procedurally reasonable
fair and reasonable.
stated more fully in the Settlement Agreement, Defendants
agreed to pay up to $150, 000 (the Gross Settlement Amount),
inclusive of (a) attorneys' fees, costs and expenses of
Class Counsel; and (b) an Enhancement Award to Named
Plaintiff Rachel Turner. The Settlement Agreement provides
that the attorneys' fees, costs, expenses, Enhancement
Awards, and fees and expenses of claims administration are to
be deducted from said maximum of $150, 000, and that the
remaining balance is to be available to be claimed by opt-in
Plaintiffs through the claims process set forth in the
Settlement Agreement and approved in the Court's Order of
Preliminary Approval. As shown below, the Court has approved
(a) an award of attorneys' fees, costs and expenses to
Class Counsel in the total amount of $108, 945.39; and (b) an
Enhancement Award to Named Plaintiff Rachel Turner in the
amount of $10, 000. The remaining balance is the Net
There are 15 Class Members who submitted timely and proper
Consent to Join Lawsuit and Claim Forms (“Claim
Forms”). ECF Nos. 89-103. Each of those 15 Class
Members has consented to be a party plaintiff in this case
pursuant to 29 U.S.C. § 216(b).
Pursuant to the Settlement Agreement, the Parties have
calculated the portion of the Net Settlement Amount (after
deducting the amounts awarded above) to each opt-in
Plaintiff, as reflected in Exhibit 1 to the Settlement
Agreement, and shall distribute to each of the 15 Class
Members his or her share of said Net Settlement Amount.
Opt-in Plaintiffs are conclusively deemed to have released
all settled claims as described in the Settlement Agreement.
All Opt-in Plaintiffs are hereby forever barred and
permanently enjoined from commencing, prosecuting or
continuing to prosecute, either directly or indirectly, in
this or any other jurisdiction or forum, any of the claims
that are released by this settlement or barred by the entry
of the judgment in this action.
Court approves Class Counsel's request for attorneys'
fees, costs and expenses in the total amount of $ 108,
945.39, which shall be paid as provided in the Settlement
Agreement. To that end, the Court has scrutinized
Plaintiffs' fee agreement, which provides for a modified
contingency fee whereby counsel receives earned
attorneys' fees or forty percent of the gross recovery by
settlement, judgment, or other means, whichever is greater.
ECF No. 107-6. Here, Plaintiffs' counsel submitted
documentation indicating they accrued $158, 619.50 in
attorneys' fees, and further offered affidavits from
well-established employment attorneys attesting to the
reasonableness of Plaintiffs' counsel's hourly rates.
The Court has reviewed these documents and understands that
this is a complex case that required extensive attorney
involvement. Further, the Court acknowledges that
Plaintiffs' counsel accepted a reduced fee in the
Settlement Agreement in order to resolve this case. Taking
these factors together, the Court finds that Plaintiffs'
requested fees and costs are fair and reasonable under the
circumstances. See Id. at 850 (“Because the
attorneys' fees of $246, 000 are less than the lodestar
number and fees, the Court finds the proposed attorney's
fee to be reasonable.”).
Additionally, the Court approves Class Counsel's request
for Named Plaintiff Rachel Turner's incentive award in
the amount of $10, 000, which shall be paid as provided in
the Settlement Agreement. The Court has considered the
relevant factors and has determined that an increased award
to Plaintiff Rachel Turner is justified, particularly in
light of the complex nature of her involvement in the case.
See Id. at 850-51 (“To determine whether [an
incentive award] is warranted, the Court must consider the
actions the plaintiff has taken to protect the interests of
the class, the degree to which the class has benefitted from
those actions, and the amount of time and effort the
plaintiff expended in pursuing the litigation.”
(internal citation and quotation omitted)).
payment and delivery of all settlement payments,
attorney's fees, costs, and incentive payment to the
Named Plaintiff shall be made as provided for and required by
the Settlement Agreement. These payments will be distributed
within 30 days of this Order.
provided in the Settlement Agreement, the unclaimed portion
of the Net Settlement Fund allocable to the shares for Class
Members who did not properly and timely execute and submit
Claim Forms remain the sole property of Condustrial, Inc. The
Named Plaintiff, Class Counsel, and the Class Members shall
have no right to or interest in any unclaimed portion of the
Net Settlement Fund.
Clerk shall enter final judgment dismissing this action on
the merits with prejudice and without costs or attorney fees
to any party, other than as provided in the Settlement
Agreement. The claims that are thereby dismissed shall