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Daoust v. Maru Restaurant, LLC

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

July 3, 2019

KELSEY DAOUST, on behalf of herself and those similarly-situated, Plaintiff,
v.
MARU RESTAURANT, LLC, MARU DETROIT, LLC, MARU EAST LANSING, LLC, MARU GRAND RAPIDS, LLC, MARU KALAMAZOO, LLC, MARU MIDLAND, LLC and MARU HOSPITALITY, LLC, Domestic Limited Liability Companies, and ROBERT SONG, Individually, Defendants. Installment Payment Paid to Class Counsel Amount Remaining for Participating Class Members

          FINAL ORDER AND JUDGMENT GRANTING FINAL APPROVAL OF THE CLASS ACTION SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT

          TERRENCE G. BERG, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Based upon the facts presented to the Court during the June 19, 2019 Final Approval and Fairness Hearing, the Court's review of the Plaintiff's Memorandum of Law is Support of the Motion for Preliminary Approval, the Declaration of Andrew R. Frisch (“Frisch Declaration”), and all other papers submitted in connection with Plaintiff's Motion for Preliminary Approval, the Court grants final approval of the settlement memorialized in the Settlement Agreement and Release (“Settlement Agreement”) between Plaintiff, KELSEY DAOUST, and Defendants MARU RESTAURANT, LLC, MARU DETROIT, LLC, MARU EAST LANSING, LLC, MARU GRAND RAPIDS, LLC, MARU MIDLAND, LLC, MARU HOSPITALITY, LLC, and ROBERT SONG (“Defendants”) (collectively “the Parties”), and “so orders” all of its terms except as set forth herein.

         Background

         This lawsuit is a hybrid class and collective action asserting wage and hour claims under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) and Michigan's Workforce Opportunity Wage Act (“WOWA”), M.C.L. § 408.411, et seq. It concerns Defendants' use of a tip pool and, later, a service charge. Plaintiff contends the tip pool and service charge were unlawful and should result in Defendants being unable to take a tip credit (i.e., paying the lower tipped minimum wage and taking a credit for tips received to make up for the difference with the regular minimum wage). Defendants denied Plaintiff's allegations.

         The Parties have agreed to a $1, 450, 000 settlement covering 359 class members. The settlement was reached during arms-length negotiations between the Parties, which were conducted by experienced counsel following extensive investigation, and on the basis of mutual recognition of the strengths and weaknesses of each other's positions. The settlement was achieved during mediation with the assistance of the Honorable Steven Rhodes (Retired Chief Judge, U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Michigan). After subtracting for fees, administrative costs and the like, the average payment per class member is approximately $2, 585.

         Certification of the Settlement Class

         1. The Court finds that all requirements of Rule 23(a) and (b)(3) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure are satisfied for settlement purposes.

         2. The Court finally certifies the following class under Fed.R.Civ.P. 23(e), for settlement purposes only (“Settlement Class”):

All tipped server employees who worked for any of the Defendants from November 30, 2014 through June 3, 2018, with the exception of six (6) servers who did not receive the class notice after a remailing and who therefore are excluded from the class definition.

         Approval of the Settlement Agreement

         3. The Court hereby grants the Motion for Final Approval and approves the settlement on behalf of the class as set forth in the settlement Agreement and this Order under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(e).

         4. Under Rule 23(e), a class settlement must be “fair, reasonable, and adequate” under a seven-factor standard. UAW v. General Motors Corp., 497 F.3d 615, 626 (citing Granada Invs., Inc. v. DWG Corp., 962 F.2d 1203, 1205 (6thCir.1992); Williams v. Vukovich, 720 F.2d 909, 922-23 (6th Cir.1983)).

         The Seven Factor Standard is Satisfied

         5. The Sixth Circuit uses the following seven factors to evaluate class action settlements: (1) the risk of fraud or collusion; (2) the complexity, expense and likely duration of the litigation; (3) the amount of discovery engaged in by the parties; (4) the likelihood of success on the merits; (5) the opinions of class counsel and class representatives; (6) the reaction of absent class members; and (7) the public interest. UAW v. General Motors Corp., 497 F.3d 615, 626 (6th Cir. 2007) (citing Granada Invs., Inc. v. DWG Corp., 962 F.2d 1203, 1205 (6th Cir.1992); Williams v. Vukovich, 720 F.2d 909, 922-23 (6th Cir.1983).

         6. These factors were thoroughly reviewed with Class Counsel during the June 19, 2019 Fairness Hearing. The Court finds that all of the factors set forth in UAW, 497 F.3d at 615, which provides the analytical framework for evaluating the ...


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