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Simpkins v. Oak Grove 70 Truckstop, Inc.

United States District Court, W.D. Missouri.

January 26, 2017

CARLTON SIMPKINS, Individually and On Behalf of All Others, Plaintiffs,
v.
OAK GROVE 70 TRUCKSTOP, INC., and IOWA 80 GROUP, INC., Defendants.

          ORDER

          NANETTE K. LAUGHREY United States District Judge

         The parties notified the Court that they reached a settlement in this case, and Plaintiff Carlton Simpkins filed an unopposed motion for preliminary approval of class settlement, to certify the class for purposes of settlement, and for approval of the proposed notice plan. [Doc. 33].

         Rule 23(e) directs that the claims of “a certified class may be settled, voluntarily dismissed, or compromised only with the court's approval.” A proposal that binds the class members may only be approved “after a hearing and on finding that it is fair, reasonable, and adequate.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 23(e)(2). This generally involves a two-step process, in which the Court first makes a preliminary inquiry into the terms of the settlement. Once satisfied that there is a plausible basis to approve the settlement, the Court directs notice and solicits the views of class members. Following the close of any opt-out and comment deadline, the Court holds the hearing required by Rule 23(e) and issues a final finding on whether the settlement is fair, reasonable and adequate. This case now comes to the Court on the first step - preliminary approval and issuance of a court-authorized notice of settlement.

         The Court has reviewed the motion, the parties' Settlement Agreement, and the proposed notice of settlement, claim, and request for exclusion (opt-out) forms. The Court grants the motion, Doc. 33, and specifically finds and orders as follows:

         1. The Settlement Agreement, including its provision for an award of attorneys' fees and costs to Class Counsel and an incentive award to Plaintiff, is preliminarily approved pending objections from Settlement Class members and approval from the Court, and on the condition that:

a. The settlement checks will be good for 180 days rather than the 90 days provided in Paragraphs 4 and 5 in Doc. 33-2, p. 10; and
b. The last sentence of Paragraph 5 “Residual Funds” is replaced with the following: The parties shall report to the Court the sum of all checks that are undeliverable after one skip trace for the Court to make a final determination regarding whether a second distribution of the settlement to the located plaintiffs is feasible. If the Court determines that a second distribution is not feasible, the settlement funds remaining due to undelivered checks will be distributed to the parties' identified cy pres recipient, Goodwill Industries International, Inc.; and
c. The Notice document's “Do Nothing” box within the “Summary of Your Rights and Options” box, [Doc. 33-3, p. 1], is edited to replace the likely typo “bout” with “bound, ” so that it reads, “You will be bound by judgments and orders . . .”

         2. There are two settlement classes (the “Settlement Classes”) as defined below. Composition of the Settlement Classes in all cases shall be based exclusively upon Defendant's records.

         3. The Settlement Classes are conditionally certified for settlement purposes only, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(b)(3).

a. The “Disclosure Class” shall include all employees or prospective employees of Defendants, during the claims period of November 9, 2013 and July 28, 2016, from whom Defendants obtained written consent, using an Inquirehire Disclosure and Authorization for Consumer Reports Form, to conduct a background check and upon whom Defendants subsequently obtained a background check subject to the consent.
b. The “Adverse Action Class” shall include all employees or prospective employees of Defendants in the United States that suffered an adverse employment action between November 9, 2013 and July 28, 2016, that was based, in whole or in part, on information contained in a consumer report, and who were not provided a copy of such report, a reasonable notice period in which to challenge any inaccuracy in the consumer report, and/or a written description of their rights in accordance with the FCRA in advance of said adverse employment action.

         4. Any person who previously settled or released all of the claims covered by this settlement, or any person who previously was paid or received awards through civil or administrative actions for all of the claims covered by this settlement, or any person who excludes him/herself from either class shall not be a member of the Settlement Class.

         5. Jason Brown and Jayson Watkins are designated as Class Counsel for the Settlement Class. Carlton Simpkins is designated ...


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