United States District Court, E.D. North Carolina, Southern Division
MANUEL MATEO-EVANGELIO, JAIME TREJO-CARDONA, GILBERTO CERVANTES-VEGA, REYNALDO VILLALOBOS-MARTINEZ, EMILIO REYES, MARIA DE LOS ANGELES GONZALEZ-ROMAN, RAMIRO CERVANTES-VEGA, FRANCISCO CARMELO MATIAS-CASTRO, PABLO GONZALEZ-ROMAN, BENIGNO VILLA-GOMEZ, and SERGIO NARCISO LOPEZ-JUAREZ Plaintiffs,
TRIPLE J PRODUCE, INC.; HOCUTT BROTHERS, INC.; HOCUTT FARMS, INC., JUDY HOCUTT; JOEY M. HOCUTT; JAMES MICHAEL HOCUTT; and M. JAY HOCUTT Defendants.
W. FLANAGAN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter is before the court on plaintiffs' motion for cy
pres distribution (DE 89) and defendants' motion for
reversion (DE 94). The court heard argument on the motions
July 11, 2017, and reached decision regarding certain issues
in order entered July 12, 2017, while taking under advisement
final decision on the motions. Upon filing of supplemental
submissions by the parties as directed by the court, the
motions are ripe for ruling. For the following reasons,
defendants' motion is denied and plaintiffs' motion
is granted in part and denied in part.
background of this case, as pertinent to the instant motions,
may be summarized as follows. The first two named plaintiffs
in this action filed suit on December 31, 2014, asserting
violations of federal and state fair labor standards laws,
based on alleged conduct by defendants in not paying properly
wages for overtime work packaging sweet potatoes and other
agricultural commodities. Plaintiffs amended their complaint
several times, most recently on October 7, 2015, with a third
amended complaint (the “complaint”) brought by
all of the above-named plaintiffs against the above-named
settling defendants, asserting the following claims:
1. Two class action claims for failure to pay the promised
wage under the North Carolina Wage and Hour Act
(“NCWHA”), N.C. Gen. Stat. §§ 95-25.1
et seq. (3rd. Am. Compl. ¶¶ 104-109).
2. One collective action claim for minimum wage and overtime
violations under the Fair Labor Standards Act
(“FLSA”), 29 U.S.C. §§ 201 et seq.
(except plaintiff Sergio Narciso Lopez-Juarez). (3rd Am.
Compl. ¶¶ 110-112).
3. One class action claim failure to pay sufficient wages in
violation of the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker
Protection Act (“AWPA”). 29 U.S.C. §§
1801, et seq. (3rd Am. Compl. ¶¶ 113-115).
4. Individual claims for wrongful discharge by plaintiff
Jaime Trejo-Cardona and for retaliation by nine of eleven
named plaintiffs. (Id. ¶¶ 116-132).
complaint seeks declaratory, injunctive, and compensatory
relief, including unpaid back wages, liquidated damages, and
statutory damages in the full amount authorized by the AWPA
($500 per plaintiff per violation, or up to $500, 000 upon
September 1, 2015, the parties executed a settlement
agreement resolving all claims. (See DE 62-1, 75-1).
The settlement agreement provides for settlement payments
totaling $328, 920.00 to the named plaintiffs and to class
members based on the class action and collective action
claims asserted in the complaint, divided as follows:
1. Payments to named plaintiffs ranging from $9, 000 to $20,
800 each, totaling $159, 400. (DE 62-1 ¶1).
2. Payment of $20, 480 to a class of “former packing
house employees” who have “overtime claims,
” corresponding to the FLSA collective action claim
(hereinafter the “FLSA fund”) (Id.
3. Payment of $20, 400 to a class of “former packing
house employees” who have “corresponding
employment claims, ” corresponding to the NCWHA class
action claim (hereinafter the “NCWHA fund”)
(Id. ¶ 2).
4. Payment of $128, 400 into a settlement fund for the
benefit of “a class of plaintiffs” including
plaintiff Sergio Narciso Lopez-Juarez (the “Sergio
Class”), corresponding to the AWPA class action claim
(hereinafter the “AWPA fund”). “Upon proof
of their work, each [class member] is eligible to a
distribution of $350 per season, ...