United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Harrison Division
DALE SHEPARDSON, Individually and on Behalf of All Others Similarly Situated PLAINTIFF
MIDWAY INDUSTRIES, INC.; TOOL STEEL SERVICE, INC; and TOOL STEEL SERVICE OF CALIFORNIA, INC. DEFENDANTS
OPINION AND ORDER
TIMOTHY L. BROOKS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
before the Court is the parties' Amended Joint Motion for
Stipulated Collective Action Settlement and Settlement
Approval (Doc. 26). The parties previously requested Court
approval of a settlement agreement on March 6, 2019. See
Docs. 20-21. However, the Court found the parties'
proposed settlement deficient in a number of ways and denied
the motion in a Memorandum Opinion and Order issued on July
1, 2019 (Doc. 24). In that Order, the Court explained its
concerns regarding the settlement in some detail, including
the following: that the proposed settlement agreement
contained insufficient opt-in procedures; that the proposed
settlement agreement did not adequately advise class members
of their rights concerning Rule 23 claims made pursuant to
the Arkansas Minimum Wage Act ("AMWA"); that the
proposed settlement agreement's proposal for a common
recovery fund did not properly disaggregate Fair Labor
Standards Act ("FLSA") claims from AMWA claims; and
that the Court could not reasonably determine, given the
information provided by the parties at the time, whether the
proposed settlement fully compensated all of the settlement
class members for their claims or whether the settlement
instead constituted a compromise of the class members'
appears the parties took the Court's criticisms to heart
and have submitted a revised settlement agreement for
approval. Upon review of the revised agreement (Doc. 26-1),
the Court is satisfied that its previous concerns have now
been addressed. First, the revised settlement agreement no
longer attempts to settle claims on a class-wide basis for
purported violations of the AMWA pursuant to a Rule 23
"opt-out" class action procedure. Instead, the
parties seek only the certification of an "opt-in"
settlement class under the FLSA. Second, the parties have
revised the process by which settlement class members may opt
into the class. The class members will now receive a form
advising them of the terms of the settlement and their
opportunity to opt in. Then they will be instructed to fill
out an opt-in consent form (Doc. 26-2) and send that form to
class counsel by a date certain. Any class members who do not
timely complete their opt-in forms will not participate in
the settlement and will not release any potential claims
against Defendants. Third, the parties have calculated the
total amount of unpaid overtime premiums to be paid to the
sixteen known class members-plus Plaintiff-and have included
in that calculation an amount of liquidated damages pursuant
to the FLSA. Accordingly, Defendants have agreed to a class
settlement fund of $5, 344.42, which represents a full,
uncompromised settlement amount. Finally, the parties have
separately negotiated the amount of class counsel's
attorney's fees, and the payment of class counsel's
fees will not impair or reduce the Plaintiffs or the
THEREFORE ORDERED that the Amended Joint Motion for
Stipulated Collective Action Settlement and Settlement
Approval (Doc. 26) is GRANTED. In granting the motion, the
Court makes the following specific findings:
Plaintiff and Defendants engaged in a bona fide dispute that
was contested, litigated, and ultimately settled as a result
of arms'-length negotiations.
collective action pursuant to the FLSA is certified for
settlement purposes only, with the settlement class defined
All current and former employees of Midway who received paid
time off in exchange for working overtime hours between
October 5, 2015, and the date of execution of this Settlement
Court has reviewed the proposed Settlement Agreement (Doc.
26-1) and finds it to be fair, just, reasonable, and adequate
to the class.
notice (Doc. 26-2) and opt-in procedures (Doc. 26-1 at 2)
that have been submitted by the parties comport with due
process and appropriately inform the class as to the claims
at issue. Accordingly, the notice and opt-in forms are
approved by the Court, and they should be distributed in the
manner set forth in the Settlement Agreement.
Court appoints Josh Sanford of Sanford Law Firm, PLLC, to
serve as class counsel. The Court believes class counsel will
fairly and adequately protect the interests of the class.
per the parties' Settlement Agreement, Defendants are to
pay class counsel the total sum of $9, 900.00 for
attorney's fees, costs, and expenses related to the
lawsuit. This payment of fees, costs, and expenses is
separate from the total amount of funds that Defendants agree
to pay to the class in settlement. Consequently, the parties
aver that the amount class counsel will receive in fees and
costs will not undercut Plaintiff's or the class's
Defendants agree to pay the total sum of $5, 344.42 to the
class members in settlement of their claims. Defendants will
deliver the settlement checks to class counsel after the
ninety-day opt-in period specified in the Settlement
Agreement has expired. See Doc. 26-1 at 3. Class
counsel will then distribute the checks to the class members.
Defendants also agree to deliver to class counsel a separate
check in the amount of $2, 000 for Plaintiff Dale Shepardson.
Plaintiff agrees that this payment will fully resolve any and
all claims he has separately asserted in this lawsuit against
Defendants, including his individual claims for wrongful
termination and denial of employment benefits. A separate
settlement agreement will be executed between Plaintiff and
Defendants concerning Plaintiff's non-wage-and-hour
claims. Accordingly, Plaintiff's separate claims are
DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE due to settlement.
case is CLOSED, but the parties may move to
reopen it if some aspect of the settlement and/or
distribution of funds to Plaintiff, the class, or class
counsel are not ...