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Shaw v. Interthinx, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Colorado

November 21, 2014

CELESTE SHAW; JUDITH VERHEECKE; SHABNAM SHEILA DEHDASHTIAN; MEDHAT GAREEB; and DEJAN NAGL on behalf of themselves and all others similarly situated, Plaintiffs,
v.
INTERTHINX, INC., a California Corporation; and VERISK ANALYTICS, INC., a Delaware Corporation, Defendants

For Celeste Shaw, Judith Verheecke, on behalf of themselves and all others similarly situated, Plaintiffs: Michael Dickson Kuhn, LEAD ATTORNEY, Andrew Edward Swan, Paul Forrest Lewis, Lewis Kuhn Swan PC, Colorado Springs, CO; Caroline Tahmassian Zarneh, David Glenn Spivak, Steven M. Tindall, Spivak Law Firm, Beverly Hills, CA; Jessica Lee Riggin, Rukin Hyland Doria & Tindall LLP, San Francisco, CA; Rowdy Byron Meeks, Rowdy Meeks Legal Group, LLC, Leawood, KS.

For Shabnam Sheila Dehdashtian, Dejan Nagl, on behalf of themselves and all others similarly situated Medhat Gareeb, Plaintiffs: Michael Dickson Kuhn, LEAD ATTORNEY, Lewis Kuhn Swan PC, Colorado Springs, CO; Caroline Tahmassian Zarneh, David Glenn Spivak, Spivak Law Firm, Beverly Hills, CA.

For Verisk Analytics Inc, a Delaware Corporation, Interthinx Inc, a California Corporation, Defendants: Nicholas Anthony Murray, LEAD ATTORNEY, Peter Francis Munger, Jackson Lewis, P.C.-Denver, Denver, CO; Angela Quiles Nevarez, Jackson Lewis, P.C.-Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA; Leila Nourani, Nicky Jatana, Jackson Lewis, LLP-Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA.

ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFFS' UNOPPOSED MOTION FOR PRELIMINARY APPROVAL OF CLASS AND COLLECTIVE ACTION SETTLEMENT AND CERTIFICATION OF SETTLEMENT CLASSES

Robert E. Blackburn, United States District Judge.

The matter before me is Plaintiffs' Unopposed Motion for Preliminary Approval of Class and Collective Action Settlement and Certification of Settlement Classes [#233], [1] filed November 4, 2014. Having reviewed and considered the motion, the Joint Stipulation of Settlement and Release between plaintiffs and defendants (the " Settlement Agreement"), the proposed Notices, and the pertinent portions of the entire record in this litigation to date, I hereby grant the motion, certify the proposed settlement classes, grant preliminary approval of the settlement, and set this matter for a final fairness hearing.

I. BACKGROUND

On October 7, 2014, named plaintiffs Celeste Shaw, Judith Verheecke, Shabnam Sheila Dehdashtian, Medhat Gareeb, and Dejan Nagl, filed a Second Amended Complaint and Jury Demand [#225] against defendants Interthinx, Inc., and Verisk Analytics, Inc., alleging claims on behalf of themselves and all others similarly situated. The Second Amended Complaint alleges specifically that defendants violated a number of California, Colorado, Missouri, and federal wage and hour laws by, among other things, failing to pay Auditors and Underwriters (" AUs") overtime compensation.

Since commencement of this case, counsel for the parties have exchanged thousands of pages of documents; taken and defended multiple depositions; filed and responded to numerous motions; served and responded to discovery (and filed and responded to motions concerning that discovery); attended hearings and other court appearances; and mediated with an experienced class action mediator. These efforts have resulted in the parties agreeing to the Settlement Agreement, attached as Exhibit 1 to Exhibit A to the motion.

II. SETTLEMENT CLASS CERTIFICATION

The Settlement Agreement resolves claims of four proposed settlement classes of AUs employed by Interthinx: (a) those employed in Colorado between May 9, 2010, and June 30, 2014 (" Colorado Class"); (b) those employed in California between June 28, 2009, and June 30, 2014 (" California Class"); (c) those employed in Missouri between May 9, 2010, and June 30, 2014 (" Missouri Class"); and (d) those employed in any other state between May 9, 2010, and June 30, 2014 and who are not members of the California, Colorado, or Missouri Classes (" FLSA Class") (collectively, the " Settlement Classes").

Having considered the arguments and authorities presented, I find and conclude that the proposed parameters of the classes are appropriate. Moreover, the proposed settlement classes are appropriate for class certification for settlement purposes only. The California, Missouri, and Colorado classes all satisfy the prerequisites of Fed.R.Civ.P. 23(a). The classes include numerous individuals, making joinder of the individual claims impracticable. The named plaintiffs' claims are typical of the class members' claims. All class members were subject to defendants' alleged pay practices, including the alleged failure to pay overtime compensation. The named plaintiffs are adequate class representatives and have no conflicts with the class members, and their counsel have significant experience litigating wage and hour class actions. Finally, there are issues common to the class members, including, without limitation (1) whether Interthinx correctly classified its AUs as exempt from overtime; and (2) whether Interthinx regularly required its AUs to work overtime hours. I will, therefore, certify the California Class, Colorado Class, and California Class for the purpose of effectuating the settlement only.

Additionally, the FLSA class satisfies the prerequisites to certify a collective action under the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, 29 U.S.C. § 201 et seq . (" FLSA") for settlement purposes. This litigation involves a bona fide dispute; the proposed settlement is fair and equitable to all parties as set out below; and the proposed settlement contains a reasonable award of attorneys' fees. I therefore will certify the FLSA Class for the purpose of effectuating the settlement only.

III. PRELIMINARY APPROVAL OF THE SETTLEMENT

The Settlement Agreement appears, on preliminary review, to be fair, reasonable, and adequate. The Settlement Agreement is the product of intensive, arm's-length negotiations involving experienced counsel who are well-versed in employment law, class action ...


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