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Swiger v. Utz Quality Foods, Inc.

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

June 14, 2017

JASON SWIGER and JULIO CRUZ, on behalf of themselves and others similarly situated, Plaintiffs,
v.
UTZ QUALITY FOODS, INC. Defendant.

          CHASTITY L. CHRISTY (0076977), ANTHONY J. LAZZARO (0077962), HANS A. NILGES (0076017), SHANNON M. DRAHER (0074304) NILGES DRAHER LLC

         BRIAN P. DOWNEY PEPPER HAMILTON LLP, RICHARD J. REIBSTEIN PEPPER HAMILTON LLP, CHRISTOPHER J. MORAN LEE E.TANKLE, KALI T. WELLINGTON-JAMES PAPER HAMILTON LLP

          CHIEF JUDGE CHRISTOPHER C. CONNER

          ORDER APPROVING FLSA SETTLEMENT

         This matter is before the Court on the Parties' Joint Motion for Final Approval of FLSA Settlement ("Joint Motion") pursuant to § 16(b) of the Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA"), 29 U.S.C. § 216(b). The Joint Motion asks the Court to approve, as fair and reasonable, the proposed FLSA Settlement reached by the Parties and memorialized in the Joint Stipulation of FLSA and Class Action Settlement and Release ("Settlement" or "Agreement") attached to the Joint Motion as Exhibit 1.

         Having reviewed the Joint Motion, the Agreement and its Exhibits, the Declarations of Anthony J. Lazzaro and Hans A. Nilges, and the pleadings and papers on file in this Action, and for good cause established therein, the Court enters this Stipulated Order Approving the FLSA Settlement, the Agreement as it applies to the FLSA, the proposed FLSA Notice, the proposed Consent and Release Form, the proposed Service Awards to the FLSA Class Representatives Jason Swiger and Julio Cruz, and the proposed attorneys' fees and expense reimbursements to Class Counsel, as follows:

         1. The captioned Action asserts wage-and-hour claims under the FLSA, 29 U.S.C. §§ 201-219, on behalf of Route Sales Professionals (RSPs) of Defendant Utz Quality Foods, Inc. ("Utz") who were not paid overtime compensation at the rate of one and one-half their regular rate of pay for all hours they worked over 40 each workweek.

         2. On September 15, 2015, Brian Jurden ("Mr. Jurden"), an individual, on behalf of himself and others similarly situated, filed this Action as a collective action under the Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA"), 29 U.S.C. §§ 201-219 against Defendant Utz Quality Foods, Inc. ("Utz") in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, Case No. 2:15-cv-2833.

         3. On September 22, 2015, the Complaint was amended to include Jason Swiger and Julio Cruz as named Plaintiffs.

         4. On October 29, 2015, by stipulation of the Parties, the Complaint was amended to dismiss Brian Jurden. Jason Swiger and Julio Cruz remain named Plaintiffs and representatives of those similarly situated to them.

         5. On November 17, 2015, the action was transferred to the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania and docketed at Case No. 1:15-cv-2196.

         6. Consistent with the terms of the Parties' Settlement Agreement and by Stipulation, Plaintiffs Third Amended Complaint to add Rule 23 Class Action claims for relief for alleged violations of wage and hour laws in Maryland, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey and adds as additional named plaintiffs Julia Williams (as class representative of the Maryland class), Tom Holt (as class representative of the North Carolina class), Nicholas DeRose (as class representative of the New Jersey class), and Julio Cruz as class representative of the Pennsylvania class was attached to the Parties Motion as Exhibit 4. The Parties also attached, as Exhibit 5, Defendant's Answer to Third Amended Complaint. The Parties moved this Honorable Court to grant Plaintiff leave to file Plaintiffs' Third Amended Complaint.

         7. Between December 2015 and January 2017, the Parties engaged in informal and formal comprehensive discovery regarding Plaintiffs' claims and Defendant's defenses to such claims. This included written discovery, including interrogatories and exchanging thousands of documents, multiple depositions, and a complete analysis of each FLSA Class Member's overtime damages.

         8. The Parties engaged in extensive legal discussion and correspondence surrounding the Parties' positions, providing legal authority and arguments on both sides, which included numerous and lengthy discussions and written communications.

         9. In February and March 2017, the Parties engaged in mediation that began at a formal mediation in New York City on February 7, 2017, with the assistance of Mediator Michael D. Young of JAMS. The mediation extended several weeks thereafter under the Mediator's auspices, which led to a proposed ...


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