This class action involving store managers at Samsonite Company Stores, Inc. was filed on March 24, 2009, in the U.S. District Court, California Northern District. The plaintiffs, represented by private counsel, sought class certification (collective class and state classes for New York and ...
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This class action involving store managers at Samsonite Company Stores, Inc. was filed on March 24, 2009, in the U.S. District Court, California Northern District. The plaintiffs, represented by private counsel, sought class certification (collective class and state classes for New York and California plaintiffs) as well as compensatory, declaratory, and injunctive relief, claiming that defendants consistently failed to pay appropriate overtime compensation as required by federal and state law.
The complaint alleged that defendants misclassified plaintiffs as "exempt" from state and federal overtime laws; that defendants failed to pay all wages due and appropriate overtime compensation; that defendants failed to provide or authorize meal and rest periods; that defendants failed to maintain accurate time records; that defendants breached their contracts by promising plaintiffs vacation time based on hours worked, but did not pay for their vacation time based on their overtime hours; and that after filing this suit, certain plaintiffs were retaliated against and received pay cuts.
The requested relief included damages in the amount of their respective unpaid overtime compensation, liquidated damages from 3 years immediately preceding the filing of this action, attorneys fees and costs, restitution of vacation time and other unpaid wages and premiums, and injunctive relief requiring defendants to provide timely, accurate, itemized wage statements as well as payment of meal and rest periods. Plaintiffs that alleged retaliation requested relief for backpay, compensatory damages, and punitive damages.
Pursuant to court order, the parties participated in mediation. During the second mediation session, the mediator made a proposal that both sides accepted on November 5, 2009. A few weeks later, the parties agreed upon a Joint Stipulation of Settlement and Release. The settlement notes that defendants have reclassified all of its store managers nationwide to be non-exempt employees. Defendants, which filed for bankruptcy in September 2009, proposed to pay a lump sum of $850,000 to all 89 of the class members to resolve all outstanding wage and hour claims under the Fair Labor Standards Act and state laws. This is in addition to the amount of $116,251.08 that defendants already voluntarily paid to 30 of the 89 class members since the lawsuit was filed. Specifically, the settlement provides that all class members be paid 10% simple interest on their back overtime wage; that each class member be paid liquidated damages for the full 3 years of his/her FLSA claim; that California class members are paid additional amounts for the state claims raised in the suit, which defendants disputed, and which plaintiffs are waiving in the settlement; that California and New York class members will recover alleged vacation time underpayments; and that plaintiffs will recover for each claim they have for every week in which they were eligible for any recovery, for an average of nearly $6,300 per class member.
In December 2009, the court certified plaintiff's class for settlement purposes and granted preliminary approval of the Joint Stipulation of Settlement and Release.
In April 2010, the court granted final approval of the Joint Stipulation of Settlement and Release. The court also granted attorneys' fees of $241,562.77 and costs of $35,000, which comply with the 9th Circuit's benchmark for attorneys' fees in a class action (attorneys' fees equal 25% of the common fund). Also, based on the standards of Van Vranken v. Atlantic Richfield Co., 901 F.Supp. 294, 299 (N.D.Cal.1995), the court granted enhancements of $5,000 each sought by the representative plaintiffs.Alice Liu - 10/11/2012