United States District Court, W.D. North Carolina, Charlotte Division
BONNIE R. JONES, on behalf of Herself and all others similarly situated, Plaintiffs,
CHICAGO BRIDGE & IRON COMPANY DELAWARE a/k/a CB&I and CB&I STONE & WEBSETER, INC., Defendants.
ORDER GRANTING FINAL APPROVAL OF RULE 23 CLASS ACTION
AND FLSA COLLECTIVE ACTION SETTLEMENT
J. CONRAD, JR., UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
MATTER comes before the Court on the parties'
Joint Motion for Final Approval of Class Action Settlement
Agreement and Approval of Attorneys' Fees and Costs,
(Doc. No. 26). The Court conducted the Final Fairness and
Approval Hearing on June 25, 2019. The attorneys for Named
Plaintiff Bonnie Jones and Class Members (collectively,
“Plaintiffs”) and Defendant Chicago Bridge &
Iron Company - Delaware (“Defendant”) request
approval of the Class Action Settlement Agreement
(“Agreement”) reached between the parties.
alleged that Defendant failed to pay her and similarly
situated employees promised and earned overtime premium
compensation in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act, 29
U.S.C. § 201 et seq. (“FLSA”); the
North Carolina Wage and Hour Act, N.C. Gen. Stat. §
95-25.1, et seq. (“NCWHA”); the
Massachusetts Payment of Wages Act, G.L. c. 149, § 148,
et seq. (“MPWA”); and the Massachusetts
Minimum Fair Wage Law, G.L. c. 151, et seq.
(“MMFWL”). Defendant denies any liability or
wrongdoing of any kind under the FLSA and NCWHA, MPWA and
MMFWL and pled various defenses. This Court preliminarily
approved the parties' Agreement on March 29, 2019. Notice
was provided to the Class Members. There were no objections
to the settlement and only four Class Members excluded
themselves from the settlement. There are disputes between
the Parties as to the underlying facts and the controlling
law. Nonetheless, the Parties believe the settlement reached
and agreed upon is a fair and reasonable settlement of their
dispute, given the uncertainty as to liability and damages
and the estimated future costs of litigation.
parties routinely seek judicial approval of a proposed
settlement to ensure fairness and to give effect to the FLSA
releases. Courts generally approve FLSA settlements when they
are reached as a result of contested litigation to resolve
bona fide disputes. See Lynn's Food Stores, Inc. v.
United States, 679 F.2d 1350, 1353 n.8 (11th Cir. 1982);
Clark v. Ecolab, Inc., 2010 WL 1948198, at *7
(S.D.N.Y. May 11, 2010). If the proposed settlement reflects
a reasonable compromise over contested issues, the settlement
should be approved. Lynn's Food Stores, Inc.,
679 F.2d at 1354. Courts generally approve Rule 23 class
action settlements when they are fair, reasonable, and
adequate pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 23(e).
due consideration and inquiry into the circumstances
surrounding the proposed settlement of Plaintiffs'
collective FLSA claims and Rule 23 class claims under North
Carolina and Massachusetts law against Defendant, and review
of the Agreement, the Court finds and concludes that the
proposed settlement in this case meets the standard for
approval as it reflects a reasonable compromise of a bona
fide dispute. The proposed settlement is just and reasonable
and in the best interest of the parties. Further, the Court
finds that the settlement has been reached in good faith, and
the parties' Agreement is fair, reasonable, and adequate
under Fed.R.Civ.P. 23(e). The class representative, Named
Plaintiff Bonnie Jones, and Class Counsel have adequately
represented the class, and the settlement proposal was
negotiated at arm's length. The Court determines that the
relief provided for the class is adequate, taking into
account (i) the costs, risks, and delay of trial and appeal;
(ii) the effectiveness of the proposed method of distributing
relief to the class; (iii) the terms of the proposed award of
attorney's fees, including timing of payment; and (iv)
the parties' Class Action Settlement Agreement. The Court
also finds that the settlement proposal treats class members
equitably relative to each other. See Fed. R. Civ.
P. 23(e)(2)(A)- (D).
IS THEREFORE ORDERED THAT:
parties' Joint Motion for Final Approval of Class Action
Settlement Agreement and Approval of Attorneys' Fees and
Costs, (Doc. No. 26), is GRANTED.
parties' Class Action Settlement Agreement is finally
approved as fair, reasonable, and adequate pursuant to
Fed.R.Civ.P. 23(e), and a fair and reasonable resolution of a
bona fide dispute under the FLSA. As a result, the
terms of the parties' Class Action Settlement Agreement
are approved and incorporated herein, (see Doc. No.
settlement purposes only, the following Settlement Class is
finally certified pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 23 and 29 U.S.C.
Non-exempt employees working a “9/80 plan” in
Defendant's Power Division for the 2 years preceding the
filing of the Complaint (July 18, 2015 through July 18, 2017)
who were located in Charlotte, North Carolina and Canton,
Plaintiff Bonnie Jones is approved as the Representative of
the Settlement Class, and the proposed service award as
outlined in the Agreement to Plaintiff Jones for her service
to the Settlement Class is approved;
Gibbons Leis, PLLC and Stephan Zouras, LLP are approved as
Class Counsel to the Settlement Class;
Plaintiff's unopposed request for attorneys' fees and
costs is granted, and fees and costs as outlined in the
Agreement are approved;
Gibbons Leis, PLLC is approved as Settlement Administrator
and the costs of the settlement administration shall be paid