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Karen Fenn, On Behalf of Herself and Others v. Hewlett-Packard Company

December 21, 2012

KAREN FENN, ON BEHALF OF HERSELF AND OTHERS SIMILARLY SITUATED, PLAINTIFF,
v.
HEWLETT-PACKARD COMPANY, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: B. Lynn Winmill Chief Judge United States District Court

MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER

INTRODUCTION

The Court has before it Plaintiff's Motion for Preliminary Approval of Settlement Class, and Approval of the Proposed Notice of Settlement (Dkt. 73). The motion is unopposed. The Court will grant the motion as explained below.

ANALYSIS

The Eleventh Circuit's decision in Lynn's Food Stores, Inc. v. United States, 679 F.2d 1350 (11th Cir. 1982) is widely accepted for the proposition that all FLSA settlements must be approved by the Department of Labor or a court. A proposed settlement which involves a compromise by an employee will be approved only after the court determines that the settlement is a "fair and reasonable resolution of a bona fide dispute over FLSA provisions." Lynn's Food Stores, Inc. v. United States, 679 F.2d 1350, 1354 (11th Cir. 1982). In this sense, settlement of an FLSA claim is similar to Rule 23 settlements.

However, courts have also indicated that "[p]reliminary approval of a class action settlement, in contrast to final approval, is at most a determination that there is what might be termed 'probable cause' to submit the proposal to class members and hold a full-scale hearing as to its fairness." Davis, 775 F.Supp.2d at 607 (conditionally certifying both a Rule 23 class and a collective action under the FLSA for settlement purposes only); see also In re Traffic Executive Association--Eastern Railroads, 627 F.2d 631, 634 (2d Cir.1980). Thus, a proposed class action settlement should "be preliminarily approved where it appears to be the product of serious, informed, non-collusive negotiations, has no obvious deficiencies, does not improperly grant preferential treatment to class representatives or segments of the class and falls within the range of possible approval." Id. (Internal citation omitted).

Here, the Court finds that it appears the proposed settlement is, in fact, the product of serious, informed, non-collusive negotiations, has no obvious deficiencies, does not improperly grant preferential treatment to class representatives or segments of the class, and falls within the range of possible approval. The Court preliminarily finds that the proposed settlement appears to be a fair and reasonable resolution of a bona fide dispute. It appears that counsel have reasonably evaluated their respective positions, and that settlement will likely avoid substantial additional costs to the parties. Accordingly, the Court will preliminarily approve the settlement. However, the Court stresses that this is "preliminary" approval, and the Court expects to conduct a fairness hearing before finally approving the settlement. Accordingly,

IT IS ORDERED:

1. Plaintiff's Motion for Preliminary Approval of Settlement Class, and Approval of the Proposed Notice of Settlement (Dkt. 73) is GRANTED. This ...


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