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Bailes v. Lineage Logistics, LLC

United States District Court, D. Kansas

October 20, 2017

BRYAN BAILES, Individually and on Behalf of All Others, Plaintiff,
v.
LINEAGE LOGISTICS, LLC, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          Daniel D. Crabtree United States District Judge

         Plaintiff Bryan Bailes brings this lawsuit on behalf of himself and putative class members alleging that defendant, Lineage Logistics, LLC, violated the Fair Credit Reporting Act (“FCRA”), 15 U.S.C. §§ 1681-81x. The parties met, negotiated, and agreed to a compromise. On May 9, 2016, they asked the court to approve the result of their efforts: a proposed class settlement. Doc. 24-1. On August 19, 2016, the court denied their motion and gave the parties time to renegotiate. Doc. 25. The parties met, negotiated, and agreed to a new proposed class settlement. On December 15, 2016, the court approved this new proposed settlement agreement and certified the settlement class. Doc. 32. The court later approved the parties' proposed notice and notice plan. Doc. 35. The parties filed their Joint Motion for Order for Final Approval of Class Action Settlement on April 19, 2017, and plaintiff filed a Motion for Attorney Fees and Costs the same day. Docs. 38, 39. The court held a final fairness hearing on April 25, 2017.

         For reasons explained in the court's June 6, 2017 Order, the court denied both the parties' Joint Motion for Order for Final Approval of Class Action Settlement and plaintiff's Motion for Attorney Fees and Costs. Doc. 41. But, the court's June 6 Order denied these motions without prejudice. So, on July 28, 2017, the parties filed a Joint Motion for Order for Final Class Certification and Approval of Class Action Settlement. Doc. 46. That same day, plaintiff filed a renewed Motion for Attorney Fees and Costs. Doc. 47. The court has reviewed the parties' submissions and, for reasons explained below, grants both motions.

         Proposed Settlement Agreement and Class Notice Details [1]

         Once the court granted the parties' motion for preliminary approval, the settlement administrator, Analytics Consulting, LLC, began sending out the court-approved notice to potential class members. The parties initially expected the class to consist of 3, 400 members, but the actual number decreased slightly to 3, 356. After the initial mailing, the settlement administrator ran a skip trace and re-mailed notices to 694 class members. The administrator then ran a second skip trace, and re-mailed notices to 29 class members. All told, the parties were unable to locate 425 of the 3, 356 class members. Of the 2, 931 members who received notice, none opted out and none objected.

         The parties have agreed to settle the class's claims for a total of $149, 205. They propose to distribute this sum in this fashion: attorneys' fees and costs of $49, 237 (should the court approve the amount); settlement administrator costs of $16, 500; a $2, 500 incentive award for Bryan Bailes, the named plaintiff (should the court approve the amount); and then the remainder, $80, 968, to be distributed among the 2, 931 class members “to whom notice was sent and not returned as undeliverable.” Doc. 46-2 at 6-7, 9. So, each class member who received notice will recover about $27.62. If finally approved, the settlement agreement requires the administrator to mail settlement checks to all class members “to whom notice was sent and not returned as undeliverable.” Doc. 46-2 at 9. Any checks not cashed within 120 days of issuance will pass to Goodwill Industries International, Inc. as a cy pres beneficiary.

         In addition to the monetary considerations detailed above, the parties have agreed not to publicize the settlement. Plaintiff and all class members also have agreed to release all claims they may have against the defendant based on plaintiff's First Amended Complaint.

         Analysis

         I. Joint Motion for Order for Final Class Certification and Approval of Class Action Settlement

         A. Final Class Certification

         Class certification is appropriate if, after rigorous analysis, the court finds that the proposed class satisfies the requirements of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. Dukes, 564 U.S. 338, 350-51 (2011). To certify a class seeking damages for a common injury-as this proposed class seeks-a plaintiff must meet six requirements. Four are found in Rule 23(a) and two come from Rule 23(b)(3). Namely, the court must find that:

(1) the class is so numerous that joinder of all members is impracticable;
(2) there are questions of law or fact common to the class;
(3) the claims or defenses of the representative parties are typical to the claims or defenses of the class; and
(4) the representative parties will fairly and adequately protect the interests of the class.

         Fed. R. Civ. P. 23(a)(1)-(4). And, to satisfy Rule 23(b)(3), the court must also find that:

(1) the common questions of law or fact predominate over individualized questions; and
(2) a class action is the superior method for adjudicating the controversy. In order, these six requirements are called numerosity, commonality, typicality, adequacy, predominance, and superiority.

         Initially, the court was persuaded that all six requirements are met. The parties' representations during the fairness hearing and in their briefing convinces the court that its initial, conditional class certification analysis still applies and, thus, the court grants the parties' request to certify the settlement class. The court certifies the following class for settlement purposes only:

all individuals from whom, Lineage obtained written consent between February 5, 2013 and March 26, 2015, using a form titled Disclosure and Authorization Regarding Obtaining Consumer and/or Investigative Reports for Employment, to conduct a background check and upon whom Lineage subsequently obtained a background check.

Doc. 46-2 at 3.

         B. Final Approval of ...


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