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Cope v. Let's Eat Out Inc.

United States District Court, W.D. Missouri, Southern Division

September 6, 2019

OLIVIA COPE, on behalf of herself and all others similarly situated, known and unknown, Plaintiff,
v.
LET'S EAT OUT, INCORPORATED d/b/a BUFFALO WILD WINGS, JEREMY BOYER, individually, JAMES BRUNO, Individually, BRUNO MANAGEMENT COMPANY, INC., BRUNO ENTERPRISES, INC. TOO, WING BACKS, INC., SOONERS OR LATER, INC., HOT TEX, INC., and SPREADING OUR WINGS, INC. Defendants.

          AMENDED ORDER GRANTING FINAL APPROVAL OF SETTLEMENT

          STEPHEN R. BOUGH UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         On September 5, 2019, the Court heard an Unopposed Motion for Final Approval of Class and Collective Action Settlement by Named Plaintiff Olivia Cope (“Class Representative”), on behalf of herself, the Opt-in Plaintiffs, and two classes of similarly-situated employees. The Court has read and considered the Motion, the supporting memorandum of law, and other related materials submitted by the Class Representative, has heard the Parties' presentation at the hearing on final approval, and is otherwise fully informed with respect to the premises supporting final approval;

         NOW, THEREFORE, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED:

         1. Unless otherwise defined herein, all terms used in this Order (the “Final Approval Order”) will have the same meaning as defined in the Class and Collective Action Settlement Agreement (“Settlement Agreement”). The terms of the Settlement Agreement (ECF No. 316-2) are hereby incorporated by reference into this Order.

         2. This Court has jurisdiction over the subject matter of this action and over all Parties to the action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331 and 28 U.S.C. § 1367, including the Opt-in Plaintiffs and the Class Members, certified by Order dated May 10, 2017. (ECF No. 172).

         3. The Class Members as defined in the Order Preliminarily Approving the Settlement Agreement (ECF No. 317) are co-extensive with the classes previously certified by the Court on May 10, 2017 (ECF No. 172) and are as follows:

a. All current and former servers and bartenders working at any of Defendants' Buffalo Wild Wings restaurants in Missouri who, at any time from February 10, 2014 until May 31, 2015, were paid sub-minimum, tip-credit rates of pay (the “Missouri Minimum Wage Act Class”); and
b. All current and former servers and bartenders working at any of Defendants' Buffalo Wild Wings restaurants who, at any time from February 10, 2011 until May 31, 2015, were paid sub-minimum, tip-credit rates of pay (the “Missouri Common Law Class”).

         4. The Court finally approves the Settlement Agreement and the Settlement of the Missouri Minimum Wage Act Class and the Missouri Common Law Class claims as fair, reasonable, and adequate. Defendants shall pay a total of $650, 000.00, plus the employers' share of payroll taxes as set forth in the Settlement Agreement, to resolve this litigation.

         5. The Court finds that no Class Member excluded himself or herself from the Settlement following the issuance of Class Notice and no Class Member objected to the Settlement. The absence of any objections to the Settlement by Class Members supports approval of the Settlement.

         6. The Settlement of the Fair Labor Standards Act collective action is approved as a fair and equitable resolution of a bona fide wage and hour dispute. The Settlement is also a fair, reasonable, and adequate resolution of the class action claims. The Settlement is equitable to all parties and is the result of arm's length negotiations by experienced counsel after extensive discovery and motion practice. Settlement was reached weeks before trial on a class-wide basis was scheduled to begin and after Defendants informed Class Counsel that Defendants intended to file for bankruptcy to avoid the trial of this matter. Thus, the stage of the litigation and the risks of proceeding to trial warrant approval of the Settlement. Likewise, the Settlement has the support of Class Counsel and Defendants' Counsel, both of whom have significant experience representing parties in complex class actions.

         7. The formula for allocation of Settlement Payments as set forth in the Settlement Agreement is approved as a fair, equitable, and reasonable measure for calculating and distributing the settlement payments to the Class Representative, Opt-in Plaintiffs, and Class Members.

         8. The Notice of Settlement sent to Opt-in Plaintiffs and the Class Notice and Claim Form sent to Class Members via First Class Mail and electronic mail adequately informed the Opt-in Plaintiffs and the Cl ass Members of the terms of the Settlement Agreement, the process available to them to obtain monetary relief, their right to request exclusion from the Settlement and pursue their own remedies, and their opportunity to file written objections and appear and be heard at the Final Approval Hearing. The Notice of Settlement and Class Notice and Claim Form also adequately informed Opt-in Plaintiffs and Class Members of additional resources available to obtain further information, including the telephone number of Class Counsel and the Settlement Administrator. The Court finds that the Notice of Settlement and Class Notice and Claim Form satisfied the requirements of Rules 23(c)(2)(B) and 23(e)(1).

         9. At the timing specified in the Settlement Agreement, Defendants shall deposit into the Qualified Settlement Fund Four Hundred and Seventy-Five Thousand Dollars ($475, ...


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