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Barrett v. Nestle USA Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. Arkansas, Jonesboro Division

March 19, 2019

SKY BARRETT, Individually and on Behalf of All Others Similarly Situated PLAINTIFF
v.
NESTLE USA, INC.; and NESTLE PREPARED FOODS COMPANY DEFENDANTS

          ORDER

          D.P. Marshall Jr. United States District Judge

         1. The Court appreciates the parties' response, No. 17, to the Court's recent Order, No. 15, as well as counsels' billing records through the end of January, No. 16. The Court understands now why notice by text message wasn't proposed. The Court also appreciates the parties' revisions of all the proposed documents to address the Court's questions and concerns. On the Notice, No. 17-1 at 22-23, one follow-up, and one tweak.

         The follow-up. The heading caption at the top of the box (in dark gray) should read "YOUR OPTIONS AND LEGAL RIGHTS". The first box (in light gray) on the left margin should be restored to the original text proposed. It should read "FILL OUT THE CLAIM FORM".

         The possible tweak. In the middle box of the Notice, [*] No. 17-1 at 23, "and/or" is used twice. This mischievous expression can cause confusion. The Court suggests a re-write: "you may state your objections to the Court, or file the Opt-Out Form, or do both. To do so, you must mail a letter to counsel for the Parties stating why you object to the Settlement, or mail the Opt-Out Form to the Claims Administrator, or do both, by__, 2019." This is a suggestion because the Court may not have accurately captured the parties' understanding. And the Court authorizes counsel to revise this part of the Notice to eliminate "and/or" while faithfully capturing the parties' proposed agreement.

         2. The Court certifies the following group as a collective action for settlement purposes, and as a Settlement Class:

All current or former hourly paid production employees who work or worked at the Nestle processing factory located in Jonesboro, Arkansas, at any time between 1 January 2016 and 1 July 2018.

         The 858 members of this group are similarly situated. As a result of a common Nestle policy they may not have received all the monthly and annual bonuses to which they are entitled. Buford v. Superior Energy Services, LLC, 2018 WL 6441097, at *2 (E.D. Ark. 1 June 2018). Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23's requirements are satisfied: common claims predominate; the group is numerous; Barrett's claim is typical; and she will adequately represent the Settlement Class. The Court appoints Joshua West and Joshua Sanford of the Sanford Law Firm, PLLC, as class counsel because they are able and experienced.

         3. The proposed settlement of the collective action and the class action is, the Court tentatively concludes, fair and reasonable. The Court is likely to be able to give its final approval in due course. FED. R. CIV. P. 23(e); Melgar v. OK Foods, 902 F.3d 775, 779-80 (8th Cir. 2018) (FLSA group); Van Horn v. Trickey, 840 F.2d 604, 606-07 (8th Cir. 1988) (Rule 23 class). The deal reflects a good faith compromise of the disputed bonuses. Given the lawyer time already spent through January 2019, and expected to be spent thereafter, the target amount of attorney's fees is a reasonable estimate, which the Court will revisit with more information at the fairness hearing.

         4. The Court appoints JND Legal Administration as the Claims Administrator.

         5. The Court schedules the fairness hearing for 1:30 p.m. on Monday, 8 July 2019 in courtroom 324 at the E.C. "Took" Gathings Federal Building, 615 South Main Street, Jonesboro, Arkansas 72401.

         6. The Court approves the form and content (as revised by this Order) of the Notice of Proposed Settlement, Claim Form, and Opt-Out Form as proposed and revised by the parties, No 17-1.

         7. Here's the schedule:

• 1 May 2019 - Deadline for claims administrator to complete Notice mailing.
• 31 May 2019 - Deadline for any objector's lawyer to file an ...

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