A California federal judge, U.S. District Judge Cathy Ann Bencivengo, granted preliminary approval after changes to the $2 million settlement between Costco and the proposed class of truck drivers while holding on to lingering concerns about the class counsel’s representation. The class of truck drivers originally alleged they were denied proper meal breaks and overtime pay.
The updated settlement agreement made adjustments to accommodate most of the issues that led to it being denied preliminary approval to the deal twice, but the judge still questioned whether or not the proposed class counsel was acting in the best interest of the drivers and whether or not the $2 million settlement amount/deal was a fair one.
One reason the judge first denied approval to the deal was that members of the class were required to release their FLSA claims. Proposed class counsel William Turley responded that is was okay that the drivers’ FLSA claims were dropped because they were basically worthless. In the updated settlement deal the drivers are split into a Rule 23 class and an FLSA collective that any drivers who wish to can opt in to. The Rule 23 settlement is estimated at $1,320,750. The FLSA settlement is estimated at $146,750. The settlement amounts clearly show that Turley’s argument that the FLSA claims were basically worthless was wrong. This situation led the judge to question Mr. Turley’s motivation for the false statement and the potential that he may have sought to keep the funds himself through an excessive attorney fee request. The judge also questioned Turley’s credibility in identifying the settlement amount as “fair.”
After the judge granted preliminary approval, she made it clear that doing so would not keep her from revisiting the questions she still had about the case during the hearing seeking final approval.
Unpaid overtime is one of the most common concerns in the American workforce. If you have concerns about unpaid overtime or if you are misclassified as exempt, please get in touch with one of the experienced California employment law attorneys at Blumenthal Nordrehaug Bhowmik De Blouw LLP.