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Sibley v. Sprint Nextel Corp

United States District Court, D. Kansas

June 28, 2018

ROXIE SIBLEY, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
SPRINT NEXTEL CORPORATION, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          KATHRYN H. VRATIL UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter is before the Court on Plaintiffs' Amended Motion For Preliminary Approval Of Settlement (Doc. #817) filed March 7, 2018[1] and Plaintiffs' Second Supplemental Motion For Preliminary Approval Of Settlement (Doc. #831) filed May 21, 2018. Plaintiffs' unopposed motions seek (1) preliminary approval of the proposed settlement agreement; (2) approval of service payments to new class representatives; and (3) a final settlement hearing date. For reasons below, the Court sustains plaintiffs' motions in part.

         Procedural Background

          On May 9, 2018, the Court sustained in part plaintiffs' motion for preliminary approval of the settlement.[2] Memorandum And Order (Doc. #829). The Court held that (1) it could not grant preliminary approval because the parties had not demonstrated that they deemed the settlement fair and reasonable, id. at 9-17, and (2) subject to objections and the more searching inquiry of final approval, the parties requested attorneys' fees, litigation costs and service payments were reasonable, id. at 17-20. The Court did not address the adequacy of plaintiffs' proposed settlement notice plan or set a final settlement hearing date. The Court directed the parties as follows:

[O]n or before Monday, May 21, 2018, the parties shall file (1) a motion for preliminary approval of a revised settlement; (2) a motion for approval of the proposed class notice; (3) a motion to join additional class representatives to represent class members who were correctly paid or overpaid, class members who only worked in Period 65 and class members who had insufficient data to calculate underpayment and (4) a joint proposed amendment to the pretrial order which sets forth these new claims.

Id. at 20-21 (emphasis omitted).

         On May 21, 2018, plaintiffs filed Plaintiffs' Second Supplemental Motion For Preliminary Approval Of Settlement (Doc. #831) and Plaintiffs' Motion For Approval Of Adequacy Of Settlement Notice Process (Doc. #833). Plaintiffs also appointed three additional class representatives to represent the aforementioned groups of class members. Plaintiffs' Second Supplemental Memorandum In Support Of Preliminary Approval Of Settlement (Doc. #832) filed May 21, 2018 at 3-4. Plaintiffs did not indicate, however, whether they intended to create subclasses or merely appoint class representatives to represent the interests of some class members.

         On June 4, 2018, the Court ordered the parties to create subclasses comprised of class members who were correctly paid or overpaid, class members who only worked in Period 65 and class members who had insufficient data to calculate underpayment and revise the settlement agreement and notice of settlement accordingly. Memorandum And Order And Order To Show Cause (Doc. #836) at 2-3. On June 18, 2018, the parties filed a motion to certify settlement subclasses, a revised settlement agreement and a revised notice of settlement. Plaintiffs' Motion For Certification Of Settlement Subclasses (Doc. #839); Settlement Agreement in Declaration Of Michele Fisher In Support Of Motion For Certification Of Settlement Subclasses (Doc. #840-1) at 4-53. On June 27, 2018, the Court sustained plaintiffs' motion to certify settlement subclasses; sustained in part plaintiffs' motion for approval of proposed settlement notice process; and ordered the parties to revise the notice of settlement to comply with Rule 23(c)(2)(B), Fed.R.Civ.P. Memorandum And Order (Doc. #844) at 13-14.

         Analysis

          As noted, the pending motions seek (1) preliminary approval of the parties' settlement agreement; (2) approval of service payments to new class representatives; and (3) a final settlement hearing date.

         When determining whether to grant preliminary approval of a settlement, the Court considers the following factors:

(1) whether the proposed settlement was fairly and honestly negotiated;
(2) whether serious questions of law and fact exist, placing the ultimate outcome of the litigation in doubt;
(3) whether the value of an immediate recovery outweighs the mere possibility of future relief after protracted and ...

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