United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
BARBARO ROSAS and GUADALUPE TAPIA, as individuals and on behalf of all other similarly situated persons, Plaintiffs,
SARBANAND FARMS, LLC et al., Defendants.
C. COUGHENOUR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter comes before the Court on Plaintiffs' unopposed
motion for preliminary approval of a class action settlement
pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(e) (Dkt. No.
158). Having thoroughly considered the motion and the
relevant record, the Court finds oral argument unnecessary
and hereby ORDERS as follows:
the Court is Plaintiffs' unopposed motion for preliminary
approval of class settlement and the proposed settlement
agreement itself. Because the parties have proposed a
settlement that was produced through non-collusive
negotiations, lacks deficiencies, is reasonable, and treats
all members of the class, the subclass, and the class
representatives fairly, the Court GRANTS preliminary
APPROVAL OF SETTLEMENT
protect the interests of all class members, Federal Rule of
Civil Procedure 23(e) requires the Court to review the
parties' proposed settlement agreement and approve it.
“The Court considers the settlement as a whole, rather
than its components, and lacks the authority to delete,
modify or substitute certain provisions.” Hanlon v.
Chrysler Corp., 150 F.3d 1011, 1026 (9th Cir. 1998).
Rather, “[t]he settlement must stand or fall in its
this stage of the proceedings, the Court must initially
consider whether to grant preliminary approval of the
settlement as a first step toward final approval. See In
re Syncor ERISA Litig., 516 F.3d 1095, 1100 (9th Cir.
granting preliminary approval, the Court considers whether
the settlement agreement appears to be the product of
serious, informed, non-collusive negotiations; has no obvious
deficiencies; does not grant preferential treatment to class
representatives; and falls within the range of possible
approval. See Harris v. Vector Mktg. Corp., 2011 WL
1627973, slip op. at 7 (N.D. Cal. 2011).
Court finds that the settlement agreement was the result of
informed, non-collusive, protracted, and arm's-length
negotiations between competent counsel and assisted by Judge
Paris K. Kallas. The parties engaged in two separate and
lengthy negotiation sessions with Judge Kallas, and the Court
concludes that the parties engaged in good faith efforts to
resolve the case in the best interest of their clients.
See Satchell v. Fed. Exp. Corp., 2007 WL 1114010,
slip op. at 4 (N.D. Cal. 2007) (“The assistance of an
experienced mediator in the settlement process confirms that
the settlement is non-collusive.”). Further, the
extensive briefing on substantive and procedural issues, as
well as the Court's orders, helped insure that the
parties' decisions were well-informed and based on a
solid legal framework. Thus, the parties were capable of
arriving at a fair settlement agreement.
parties have proposed creating a total fund of $3, 750, 000
with $2, 962, 500 set aside to compensate class members for
all claims. Class members are eligible for a minimum payment
of over $4, 300 if all eligible 519 class members file
claims, and subclass members would receive another minimum
payment of over $10, 384 if all eligible 65 subclass members
file claims. If all class and subclass members do not file
claims, their shares will be divided equally amongst those
who do file claims.
Given that the total settlement fund is well within the range
of estimated damages the Plaintiffs would have sought at
trial (between $2 million and $6 million), these financial
amounts strike the Court as within the range of
reasonableness. Thus, class members are treated fairly within
this settlement, with subclass members receiving an
additional sum in compensation for additional alleged harm.
There is no obvious deficiency in this proposed payment
Named Plaintiffs and class representatives Barbaro Rosas and
Guadalupe Tapia would be paid $10, 000 each for their
services as class representatives. Service awards to named
plaintiffs do not render a settlement unfair or unreasonable.
See Stanton v. Boeing Co., 327 F.3d 938, 977 (9th
Cir. 2003). So long as named Plaintiffs are otherwise
compensated in a manner identical to other class members,
this consideration passes muster.
Defendant CSI Visa Processing S.C. has also agreed to
injunctive relief to ensure transparency in the recruitment
and hiring process for class members seeking employment in
the United States in 2020. That injunctive relief contains an
alternative dispute resolution process to quickly address
problems as well as a mechanism to mediate disputes through
this Court that includes the possibility of additional
relief, including, but not limited to, statutory damages.
Strength of Plaintiffs' Case: Plaintiffs' case was
sufficiently strong to justify a valuable settlement. Rulings
on class certification and partial summary judgment, in part,
on three of the five FLCA claims indicate that
Plaintiffs' claims were plausibly meritorious.
Risk, Expense, Complexity, and Likely Duration of Further
Litigation: A multi-week jury trial representing the
interests of over 500 class members epitomizes the risk and
complexity of litigation. Given the many motions filed,
including Plaintiffs' motion for reconsideration, the