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McArthur v. Edge Fitness, LLC

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

February 20, 2019

MELISSA MCARTHUR, individually and on behalf of others similarly situated individuals
v.
EDGE FITNESS, LLC

          ORDER GRANTING FINAL APPROVAL OF CLASS ACTION SETTLEMENT FOLLOWING RULE 23 FAIRNESS HEARING

          Robert M. Spector United States Magistrate Judge

         Before the Court is the Proposed Order Granting Final Approval to a Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) Collective and Rule 23 Class Action Settlement. (Doc. No. 104, Ex.1). On November 6, 2018, the parties consented to the jurisdiction of this United States Magistrate Judge, and the case was transferred accordingly. (Doc. No. 98). Upon consideration of the Parties' Joint Motion for Modified Order to Approve FLSA and Rule 23 Connecticut Wage Act Settlement (Doc. No. 101; see Doc. Nos. 92, 97), all of the supporting materials filed in connection therewith, the Proposed Order Granting Final Approval to a FLSA Collective and Rule 23 Class Action Settlement (Doc. No. 104, Ex. 1D), the Settlement Agreement (Doc. No. 104, Ex. 1), the distribution charts (Doc. No. 104, Exs. 1A-1B), the Modified Notice to the Class (Doc. No. 104, Ex. 1E), and the Declaration of Class Counsel (Doc. No. 104, Ex. 3), the Court, having heard from the parties at the February 12, 2019 Fairness Hearing and, for the reasons stated in open court on February 12, 2019, hereby enters this order granting Final Approval of the Settlement.

         I. STANDARD

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(e) provides that the “claims, issues, or defenses of a certified class may be settled, voluntarily dismissed, or compromised only with the court's approval.” Pursuant to Rule 23(e),

(1) The court must direct notice in a reasonable manner to all class members who would be bound by the proposal.
(2) If the proposal would bind class members, the court may approve it only after a hearing and on finding that it is fair, reasonable, and adequate.

Fed. R. Civ. P. 23(e)(1)-(2).

         To properly approve the settlement, the Court must find that the settlement provides “reasonable notice to the class members of the settlement proposal and the settlement must be procedurally and substantively fair, reasonable, and adequate.” O'Connor v. AR Resources, Inc., No. 3:08 CV 1703(VLB), 2012 WL 12743, at *2 (D. Conn. Jan. 4, 2012).

         Notice requirements, as defined in Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(c)(2)(B), provide as follows:

the court must direct to class members the best notice that is practicable under the circumstances, including individual notice to all members who can be identified through reasonable effort. . . . The notice must clearly and concisely state in plain, easily understood language:
(i) the nature of the action;
(ii) the definition of the class certified;
(iii) the class claims, issues, or defenses;
(iv) that a class member may enter an appearance through an attorney if the member so desires;
(v) that the court will exclude from the class any member who requests exclusion; and
(vi) the binding effect of a class judgment on members under Rule 23(c)(3).

Fed. R. Civ. P. 23(c)(2)(B).

         “To determine procedural fairness, courts examine the negotiating process leading to the settlement.” Matheson v. T-Bone Restaurant, LLC, No. 09 Civ. 4214, 2011 WL 6268216, at *3 (S.D.N.Y. Dec. 13, 2011) (citing Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. Visa U.S.A., Inc., 396 F.3d 96, 113 (2d Cir. 2005) (additional citation omitted)). “To determine substantive fairness, courts determine whether the settlement's terms are fair, adequate, and reasonable according to the factors set forth in City of Detroit v. Grinnell Corp., 495 F.2d 448 (2d Cir. 1974).” Matheson, 2011 WL 6268216, at *3. The Grinnell factors are:

(1) the complexity, expense and likely duration of the litigation; (2) the reaction of the class to the settlement; (3) the stage of the proceedings and the amount of discovery completed; (4) the risks of establishing liability; (5) the risks of establishing damages; (6) the risks of maintaining the class action through the trial; (7) the ability of the defendant[] to withstand a greater judgment; (8) the range of reasonableness of the settlement fund in light of the best possible recovery; [and] (9) the range of reasonableness of the settlement fund to a possible recovery in light of all the attendant risks of litigation.

Grinnell Corp., 495 F.2d at 463 (internal citations omitted), abrogated on other grounds byGoldberger v. Integrated Res., 209 F.3d 43 (2d Cir. 2000). “Courts examine procedural and substantive fairness in light of the ‘strong judicial policy in favor of settlement[]' of class action suits.” Matheson, ...


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