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O'Connor v. Worthington PJ, Inc.

United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Fort Myers Division

January 2, 2018

RONALD O'CONNOR, individually, and on behalf of others similarly situated Plaintiff,
v.
WORTHINGTON PJ, INC., Defendant.

          PRELIMINARY APPROVAL ORDER [1]

          Sheri Polester Chappell, Judge

         This case involves claims relating to alleged minimum wage violations under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) 29 U.S.C. § 201 et seq., the Florida Minimum Wage Act, Fla. Stat. § 448.110, and the Florida Constitution, Art. X, § 24, as both a collective action and Rule 23 class action. The terms of the settlement are set out in the Settlement Agreement fully executed by the proposed Class Representatives, Ronald O'Connor and Jordan Garrett, and Defendant Worthington PJ, Inc. Pursuant to the parties' Joint Motion for Preliminary Approval, the Court has preliminarily considered the Settlement to determine, among other things, whether the Settlement Agreement is sufficient to warrant the issuance of notice to members of the proposed Settlement Class. As discussed below, the Court preliminarily approves the parties' settlement in this Preliminary Approval Order and sets the following schedule for the further approval and administration of the settlement:

Event

Deadline

Defendants must provide the Settlement Notice Administrator with addresses for Class Notice to be mailed

January 16, 2018

Deadline for Defendants to mail CAFA notices

January 12, 2018

Deadline for the Settlement Administrator to mail Class Notice, Claim Forms, and Opt-Out Forms (“Mailing Date”)

January 30, 2018

Deadline for Potential Claimants to post-mark Opt-Out Forms and Objections (“Opt-out Deadline”)

March 16, 2018

Deadline for Potential Claimants to post-mark Claim Forms (“Claim Deadline”)

April 2, 2018

Deadline for Parties to file response to objections

April 9, 2018

Deadline for Settlement Administrator to provide list of Claimants to Parties

April 12, 2018

Deadline for Settlement Administrator to provide list of Claimants to Parties

April 17, 2018

Motion for Final Approval

April 20, 2018

Final Fairness Hearing

TBD by United States Magistrate Judge Mac R. McCoy

Entry of Final Approval Order

TBD by Court

Effective Date

Within the later of 30 days after (1) the Final Approval Order; (2) the dismissal of any timely filed appeal; or (3) a final appellate judgment

Deadline for Defendant to Fund Claims

Within 14 days of Effective Date

Deadline for Settlement Administrator to mail individual payments to each Participant Claimant

Within 30 days of Effective Date

         Upon reviewing the parties' Settlement Agreement and the corresponding papers, it is ORDERED as follows:

         1. Class Findings: Solely for the purposes of the Settlement, the Court finds that the requirements of Fed.R.Civ.P. 23, the United States Constitution, the Rules of this Court, and any other applicable law have been met as to the Settlement Class defined in paragraph 2 below, in that:

a. The Court preliminarily finds, for purposes of settlement only, that the Plaintiff Ronald O'Connor and Opt-in Plaintiff Jordan Garrett have standing to represent the Settlement Class because they have potentially suffered damages and are members of the Settlement Class;
b. The Court preliminarily finds, for purposes of settlement only and as required by Fed.R.Civ.P. 23, that the Settlement Class is ascertainable from records kept by Defendant with respect to its employees and from other objective criteria, and that the members of the Settlement Class are so numerous that their joinder before the Court would be impracticable;
c. The Court preliminarily finds, for purposes of settlement only and as required by Fed.R.Civ.P. 23, that there are one or more questions of fact and/or law common to the Settlement Class;
d. The Court preliminarily finds, for purposes of settlement only and as required by Fed.R.Civ.P. 23, that Plaintiffs' claims are typical of the claims of the Settlement Class;
e. The Court preliminarily finds, for purposes of settlement only and as required by Fed.R.Civ.P. 23, that Plaintiffs will fairly and adequately protect the interests of the Settlement Class in that (i) the interests of the Plaintiffs and the nature of their alleged claims are consistent with those of the members of the Settlement Class, (ii) there appear to be no conflicts between or among Plaintiffs and the Settlement Class, and (iii) Plaintiffs and the members of the Settlement Class are represented by qualified, reputable counsel who are experienced in preparing and prosecuting large, complex consumer class actions; and
f. The Court preliminarily finds, for purposes of settlement only and as required by Fed.R.Civ.P. 23, that maintaining Plaintiffs' claims as a class action is superior to other available means of adjudication in promoting the convenient administration of justice.

         2. Class Certification: The Court, in conducting the settlement approval process required by Fed.R.Civ.P. 23 certifies, for purposes of settlement only, the following Settlement Class:

All persons who worked for Worthington PJ, Inc. at its Papa John's franchises as delivery drivers at any time from August 4, 2012 through the date of this Order.

         The Court also appoints the named Plaintiff Ronald O'Connor and Opt-in Plaintiff Jordan Garret to be representatives for the Settlement Class, and it appoints Sommers Schwartz, P.C. and Butcher & Associates, P.L. as Class Counsel for the Plaintiffs and the Settlement Class. This certification of a preliminary Settlement Class pursuant to the terms of the Settlement Agreement shall not constitute and does not constitute, and shall not be construed or used as an admission, concession, or declaration by or against ...


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