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Howard v. Southwest Gas Corp.

United States District Court, D. Nevada

June 10, 2019

EBONY HOWARD, individually, and on behalf of all others similarly situated, Plaintiff,
v.
SOUTHWEST GAS CORPORATION, Defendant.

          ORDER GRANTING FINAL APPROVAL OF CLASS AND COLLECTIVE ACTION SETTLEMENT

          Honorable Jennifer A. Dorsey United States District Judge.

         Plaintiff brought claims under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”), 29 U.S.C. §201, et seq. and Nev. Rev. Stat. Ann. (hereinafter “N.R.S.”) §§ 608.016 and 608.018 for alleged overtime violations on behalf of herself and similarly situated dispatchers who worked at Defendant's dispatch centers. After the parties reached a class-wide settlement through private mediation, I preliminarily approved the parties' settlement, certified the proposed Settlement Class pursuant to 29 U.S.C. § 216(b) and Fed.R.Civ.P. 23, and directed the parties to send out the class notice. ECF No. 23. The parties' Joint Motion for Final Approval of Class and Collective Action Settlement was heard on June 10, 2019, and no opposition thereto was filed or voiced.

         Having fully reviewed the Final Approval Motion, the supporting Memorandum of Points and Authorities, and the supporting declarations, I HEREBY MAKE THE FOLLOWING FINDINGS, CONCLUSIONS, AND ORDERS:

         1. This Order Granting Final Approval of Class and Collective Action Settlement (“Final Approval Order”) incorporates the Amended Settlement Agreement and Release and Exhibits filed in this action on February 21, 2019 (“Settlement”). ECF No. 22-3.

         2. Consistent with the definitions provided in the Stipulation of Settlement and Release and the Court's Preliminary Approval Order, and except as provided herein, the Settlement Class includes:

For purposes of the FLSA settlement, the “Settlement Class” consists of all current or former hourly-paid dispatchers who work or worked for Defendant at any time between June 22, 2015 and October 1, 2018 and who have filed timely consents to participate in the Action.
For purposes of the Rule 23 Nevada settlement, the “Settlement Class” consists of all current or former hourly-paid dispatchers who work or worked for Defendant in the state of Nevada at any time between June 7, 2016 and October 1, 2018 and who have not timely submitted Opt Out Forms in the Action.

         3. Adequate notice has been disseminated and all potential Settlement Class members have been given an opportunity to opt out of this lawsuit. Accordingly, this court has jurisdiction over the subject matter of this proceeding and over all parties to this proceeding, including all Settlement Class members, and personal jurisdiction over the Settlement Class for the Settlement.

         4. Distribution of the Class Notice to the Settlement Class, as set forth in the Amended Settlement Agreement and Release, has been completed in conformity with the Preliminary Approval Order, including individual notice to all Settlement Class members who could be identified through reasonable efforts, and the best notice practicable under the circumstances. The Class Notice provided due and adequate notice of the proceedings and of the matters set forth in the Preliminary Approval Order, including the proposed Settlement and, therefore, fully satisfied the requirements of all applicable federal and state laws and the United States Constitution. The Class Notice also provided due and adequate notice to Settlement Class members of their right to exclude themselves from the Settlement, as well as their right to object to any aspect of the proposed Settlement.

         5. No. Settlement Class member (and more broadly, no one at all) filed an objection to the proposed Settlement, and no Settlement Class member appeared at the noticed Final Approval Hearing to object to the Settlement. Two Settlement Class members properly and timely submitted requests to be excluded from the Settlement. The Settlement Class therefore does not include those 2 individuals who properly and timely excluded themselves from the Settlement.

         6. I conclude that the Settlement is fair, reasonable, and adequate to the class: (a) the proposed Settlement Fund amount of $635, 000.00 is fair and reasonable to the Settlement Class Members when balanced against the probable outcome of further litigation in relation to potential decertification of an FLSA collective action, certification of a state Rule 23 class, liability issues, damages issues and potential appeals; (b) significant investigation, formal and informal discovery, research, and litigation have been conducted such that counsel for the parties at this time are able to reasonably evaluate their respective positions; (c) settlement at this time will avoid substantial costs, delay, and risks that would be presented by the further prosecution of the litigation; (d) the proposed settlement has been reached as the result of intensive, serious and non-collusive negotiations between the parties facilitated by an experienced wage-and-hour mediator; and (e) no one has objected to the Settlement.

         7. Accordingly, good cause appearing, parties' Joint Motion for Final Approval of Class and Collective Action Settlement is hereby GRANTED, the settlement (as reflected in the Amended Settlement Agreement and Release) is deemed to be in good faith, fair, reasonable, and adequate.

         8. I confirm the appointment of Jason T. Brown and Nicholas Conlon of Brown, LLC as Class Counsel for the Settlement Class, and find that Class Counsel has adequately represented the Settlement Class for purposes of entering into and implementing the Settlement.

         9. I approve and order payment of $173, 750.00 to Class Counsel for reasonable fees and costs as provided in the Settlement. Payment of Class Counsel's Fees and Costs must be made separately from and in addition to the Opt-In and Rule 23 Funds in ...


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