United States District Court, W.D. Wisconsin
DAVID HOFFMASTER, individually and on behalf of all those similarly situated, Plaintiffs,
COATING PLACE, INC., Defendant.
OPINION AND ORDER
WILLIAM M. CONLEY, DISTRICT JUDGE
behalf of himself individually and others similarly-situated,
plaintiff David Hoffmaster brings this action alleging that
defendant Coating Place, Inc., denied him and other employees
wages for time spent donning and doffing sanitary uniforms in
violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act
(“FLSA”), 29 U.S.C. § 216, and Wisconsin
state law. (Am. Compl. (dkt. #21).) Presently before the
court is the parties' joint stipulation for class
certification under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23 (dkt.
#32), and plaintiffs' unopposed motion for preliminary
approval of class action settlement agreement (dkt. #33.) The
court will grant both motions and set a fairness hearing for
10:00 a.m. on May 11, 2017.
filed this class and collective action on April 20, 2016,
alleging that defendant failed to pay him and the putative
class members for time spent donning and doffing sanitary
uniforms, which were required to perform their jobs, in
violation of the FLSA and Wisconsin state law. (Compl. (dkt.
#1).) Defendant answered the complaint on May 12, 2016,
denying that plaintiff and the putative class members
performed uncompensated work. (Answ. (dkt. #5).)
engaging in discovery, including 30(b)(6) depositions,
plaintiff filed an amended complaint, modifying the class
definitions, and the parties stipulated to conditional
certification of the FLSA collective action. (1st Am. Compl.
(dkt. #16); Parties' Stip. (dkt. #14).) The court
approved the stipulation. (Dkt. #15.) Notice was sent to the
putative class, and a total of 22 current and former
employees opted in to the FLSA collective action. (Dkt.
parties then engaged a mediator to assist the parties in
reaching a final resolution. The mediation focused primarily
on the amount of time spent donning and doffing uniforms,
whether a third-year of damages would be available to the
FLSA opt-in members, and whether liquidated damages would be
awarded. The parties reached a settlement, which is the focus
of the present motions. In brief, the settlement provides for
a $187, 500 settlement fund. The parties agreed to stipulate
to class certification. There will be no claims process;
claim members will receive funds unless they exclude
themselves from the settlement. If class members exclude
themselves from the settlement, their allocated amount will
be re-allocated to the participating class members. If class
members fail to cash their settlement checks, those funds
will revert to defendant. Counsel will petition for
attorneys' fees and costs of one-third of the settlement
fund and a $3000 enhancement payment for the named
plaintiffs. Any unapproved fees and enhancement payment (or
portion of payment) or amounts allocated to individuals who
opt-out of the class will be re-allocated to the
participating class members. (Pl.'s Br. (dkt. #34) 4-5.)
the settlement, after accounting for attorneys' fees,
costs and an enhancement payment, all participating class
members will be paid for 12 minutes of donning and doffing
for each shift worked during the statutory period at their
overtime rates. The average claim value for a
participating class member is $1, 512.59. Those individuals
who opted into the FLSA collective action will recover for
the full three-year period available under the FLSA.
Preliminary Settlement Approval
Based upon the court's review of plaintiff's
unopposed motion for preliminary approval of class action
settlement (dkt. #33), as well as plaintiff's brief in
support and other materials submitted in connection with the
motion, preliminary approval of the settlement is GRANTED.
court concludes that at this preliminary stage, the proposed
settlement “is within the range of possible
approval.” Armstrong v. Bd. of Sch. Dirs. of City
of Milwaukee, 616 F.2d 305, 314 (7th Cir. 1980),
overruled on other grounds by Felzen v. Andreas, 134
F.3d 873 (7th Cir. 1998), and finds that it was reached as a
result of vigorously-contested litigation to resolve bona
fide disputes, see Lynn's Food Stores, Inc. v. United
States, 679 F.2d 1350, 1353 n.8 (l1th Cir. 1982).
court finds that the proposed settlement appears to be the
result of extensive, arm's-length negotiations by counsel
well-versed in the prosecution and defense of wage-and-hour
class action lawsuits.
While the court is satisfied that the settlement is facially
reasonable, it intends to scrutinize plaintiff counsel's
application for attorneys' fees when the time comes for
final approval of the settlement. Specifically, the court may
use counsel's ...