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West v. Continental Automotive, Inc.

United States District Court, W.D. North Carolina, Charlotte Division

September 13, 2017

MARK WEST, RICKIE DON BASH, RAYNARD STEWART MOORE, SHARLENE KNIGHT, ANNA MARIE ROSS, BRUCE ADAMS, BRIAN THOMPSON, MICHAEL MCMANUS, STEVEN PRICE, CARL HARVELL, STACIA ANDREA WILKES, and all others similarly situated, Plaintiffs,
v.
CONTINENTAL AUTOMOTIVE, INC., et al., Defendants.

          ORDER

          Frank D. Whitney, Chief United States District Judge

         THIS MATTER is before the Court on the Parties' Joint Motion for Preliminary Approval of a Settlement (the “Settlement”) of this Class Action (the “Action”) (Doc. No. 50). This Action was brought by Plaintiffs Mark West, Rickie Don Bash, Raynard Stewart Moore, Anne Marie Ross, Bruce Adams, Brian Thompson, Michael McManus, Steven Price, and Carl Harvell, [1] on behalf of themselves and all others similarly situated, asserting claims for alleged violations of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, as amended, 29 U.S.C. § 1001 et seq. (“ERISA”) against Continental Automotive, Inc. (“Continental”) and the Pension Plan for Hourly-Paid Employees of Continental Automotive, Inc. and Certain Affiliated Companies (the “Plan”) (collectively, “Defendants”) (“Plaintiffs” and “Defendants” collectively are the “Parties”). The terms of the Settlement are set out in a fully executed Settlement Agreement (the “Settlement Agreement”), which has been signed on behalf of the Class Representatives by Plaintiff Mark West and by Defendants. (Doc. No. 50-1.) Capitalized terms not otherwise defined in this Order shall have the same meaning as ascribed to them in the Settlement Agreement.

         The Court having considered the Parties' Joint Motion for Preliminary Approval and the Settlement Agreement attached thereto in order to determine, among other things, whether the Settlement is sufficient to warrant the issuance of notice to the Class Members, hereby GRANTS the Parties' Joint Motion for Preliminary Approval, as more fully explained below.

         IT IS THEREFORE HEREBY ORDERED THAT:

         Jurisdiction.

         The Court has jurisdiction over the subject matter of this Action and over all Parties to this Action, including all Members of the Class.

         Preliminary Approval of Settlement.

         The Settlement documented in the Settlement Agreement is hereby PRELIMINARILY APPROVED, as the Court preliminarily finds that: (a) the proposed Settlement resulted from arm's-length negotiations; (b) the Settlement Agreement was executed only after Class Counsel had conducted a thorough examination and review of the relevant law, facts, and allegations to assess the merits of Plaintiffs' claims; (c) there is a genuine controversy between the Parties involving Plaintiffs' entitlement to benefits and Defendants' compliance with the requirements of ERISA; (d) the Settlement appears on its face to be fair, reasonable, and adequate; and (e) the Settlement evidenced by the Settlement Agreement is sufficient to warrant sending notice of the Settlement to the Class.

         Fairness Hearing.

         A hearing (the “Fairness Hearing”) pursuant to Rule 23(e), FED. R.CIV. P., is hereby SCHEDULED to be held before the Court on February 5, 2018 at 2:00 PM in Courtroom #1-1, United States District Court for the Western District of North Carolina, Charles R. Jonas Federal Building, 401 West Trade Street, Charlotte, North Carolina 28202 to determine finally, among other things:

(a) Whether the Settlement should be approved as fair, reasonable, and adequate;
(b) Whether a Final Approval Order should be entered;
(c) Whether Defendants should be released of and from the Class' claims, as provided in the Settlement Agreement;
(d) Whether the Notices sent (i) were reasonably calculated, under the circumstances, to apprise Class Members of the pendency of the Settlement, their right to object to the Settlement, and their right to appear at the Fairness Hearing; (ii) were reasonable and constituted due, adequate, and sufficient notice to all persons entitled to notice; and (iii) met all ...

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