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Doe v. Deja Vu Services, Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division

February 7, 2017

JANE DOE 1, individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated, Plaintiff,
DEJA VU SERVICES, INC., et al., Defendants.


          STEPHEN J. MURPHY, III United States District Court Judge

         During a January 30, 2017 hearing, the parties appeared before the Court, presented an oral motion for preliminary approval of Class Action Settlement, described the claims and defenses, reviewed the class certification elements under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23, and advised the Court as to the settlement efforts that led to the parties' settlement term sheet. Following the hearing, the parties filed a joint motion seeking preliminary approval of the proposed settlement. Mot., ECF No. 29.

         Obtaining court approval of a class-action settlement involves a three-step process: (1) preliminary approval of the proposed settlement at an informal hearing; (2) dissemination of mailed and/or published notice of the settlement to all affected class members; and (3) a formal fairness hearing or final approval hearing, at which class members may be heard regarding the settlement, and at which evidence and argument concerning the fairness, adequacy, and reasonableness of the settlement is presented. See Fussell v. Wilkinson, No. 1:03-CV-704, 2005 WL 3132321, at *3 (S.D. Ohio Nov. 22, 2005) (citing Williams v. Vukovich, 720 F.2d 909 (6th Cir. 1983)); see also Manual on Complex Litigation, Fourth, § 21.63. This procedure, commonly employed by federal courts and endorsed by a leading class action commentator, see 2 Newberg on Class Actions, § 11.25 et seq., serves the dual function of safeguarding class members' procedural due process rights, and enabling the Court to fulfill its role as the guardian of the interests of the class.

         First, the Court must ascertain whether there is any reason to notify the class members of the proposed settlement and to proceed with a fairness hearing. Id. In this regard, the settlement agreement should be preliminarily approved if it (1) "does not disclose grounds to doubt its fairness or other obvious deficiencies, such as unduly preferential treatment to class representatives or of segments of the class, or excessive compensation for attorneys, " and (2) "appears to fall within the range of possible approval." Sheick v. Auto. Component Carrier, LLC, No. 09-14429, 2010 WL 3070130, at *11 (E.D. Mich. Aug. 2, 2010) (quotations omitted).

         Here, the parties have jointly moved for preliminary approval of a class action settlement pursuant to Rule 23 and 29 U.S.C. § 216(b) of the Fair Labor Standards Act. Mot., ECF No. 29. The attorneys representing the parties have presented the Court with a comprehensive description of the claims and defenses, a description of the settlement goals and efforts made to achieve those goals by the parties, and a detailed outline of the final settlement terms. See Settlement Agreement, ECF No. 29-2. Also, the Court draws upon its experience and familiarity with a prior case involving the same issues and some of the same Defendants, Doe v Cin-Lan, Inc., et al., Case No. 08-cv-12719, in which the Court presided over a class action settlement and retained ancillary jurisdiction.

         The Court finds that the elements of Rule 23(a) are met, including that (1) the class is so numerous that joinder of all members is impracticable; (2) there are questions of law or fact common to the class; (3) the claims or defenses of the representative parties are typical of the claims or defenses of the class; and (4) the representative parties will fairly and adequately protect the interests of the class. Fed.R.Civ.P. 23(a)

         Additionally, pursuant to Rule 23(b)(3), the Court finds that the questions of law or fact common to class members predominate over any questions affecting only individual members, and that a class action is superior to other available methods for fairly and efficiently adjudicating the controversy. Id. The Court has considered (a) the class members' interests in individually controlling the prosecution or defense of separate actions; (b) the extent and nature of any litigation concerning the controversy already begun by or against class members; (c) the desirability or undesirability of concentrating the litigation of the claims in the particular forum; and (d) the likely difficulties in managing a class action. Id.

         Based on the parties' motion and the Court being otherwise fully advised on the premises, the Court finds that the proposed settlement is a fair, reasonable, and adequate resolution of a bona fide dispute between Defendants and Plaintiffs Jane Doe 1 and Jane Doe 2 and all other class members. Specifically, the Court finds that this Class meets the requirements of Fed.R.Civ.P. 23(a), Fed.R.Civ.P. 23(b)(3), and 29 U.S.C. § 216(b).


         WHEREFORE it is hereby ORDERED that:

         1. The parties' motion for preliminary approval of class action settlement [29] is GRANTED and the Settlement Class defined below is preliminarily certified for settlement purposes pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 23 and 29 U.S.C. § 216(b). The Settlement Class is defined as follows:

All current and former entertainers who worked for Defendants at any time during the Class Period and today's date at any of the "Déjà Vu affiliated clubs" listed on Exhibit A to the Settlement Agreement.
The Class Period as agreed by the parties shall cover three time periods, as follows:
"Class Period" means the period commencing (a) for Entertainers who Performed at Deja Vu Saginaw or at any of the Clubs located in the State of Michigan, March 10, 2013, (b) for Entertainers who performed at Clubs located outside of the State of Michigan and who are not a putative class member in any of the Pending Proceedings, the date upon which the statutes of limitations period under their applicable state labor laws began to run prior to March 10, 2016, or (c) for any Entertainers who are a putative class member on any of the Pending Proceedings, the earliest date of ...

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