United States District Court, S.D. New York
R. Frisch Morgan & Morgan, P.A. Counsel for Plaintiffs
MEMORANDUM & OPINION
S. Broderick United States District Judge
Hope Escort and Anthony Barratt bring this action against
Defendants Citigroup, Inc., Citibank, N.A., Citigroup
Technology, Inc., Baha Industries Corp. d/b/a Open Systems
Technologies, and Princeton Information Ltd. (collectively
“Defendants”) on behalf of themselves and a
putative class of similarly situated employees of Defendants.
Plaintiffs allege that Defendants failed to pay them overtime
wages in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act, 29 U.S.C.
§ 201 et seq. (the “FLSA”), and New
York Labor Law § 190 et seq. The parties
reached a settlement. Before me is Plaintiffs' unopposed
motion for: (1) preliminary approval of a class settlement
agreement; (2) conditional certification of the proposed
class; (3) approval of the proposed notice of the settlement;
and (4) appointment of class counsel. For the reasons set
forth herein, Plaintiff's Motion is GRANTED as to
requests (1), (2), and (4), and DENIED without prejudice as
to request (3).
Factual and Procedural Background
and members of the settlement class are current and former
employees of various third-party staffing vendors who
performed work on behalf of an affiliate of Defendant
Citigroup Inc. (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 47-48.) Plaintiffs and
members of the settlement class worked as “Know Your
Customer Analysts” between June 10, 2009 and the
present. Plaintiffs allege that Defendant Citigroup Inc. and
various third-party staffing vendors violated the FLSA and
wage and hour laws of New York by failing to pay them
overtime wages for all hours worked in excess of 40 in all
workweeks. (Id. . ¶ 1.)
Hope Escort commenced this action by filing her Complaint on
June 10, 2015. (Doc. 1.) Plaintiff Anthony Barratt joined the
action as a named plaintiff on August 5. (Doc. 20.) On
September 14, Plaintiffs filed their Amended Complaint. (Doc.
27.) Between September 28 and November 10, Defendants filed
their Answers. (Docs. 31, 33, 48.) Defendant Princeton
Information Ltd. also filed Counterclaims against Plaintiff
Escort alleging conversion and unjust enrichment, (Doc. 33),
and Plaintiff Escort filed her Answer to the Counterclaims on
December 10, (Doc. 51).
a status conference on December 11 at which I granted the
parties' request for a 60 day stay of all proceedings to
facilitate settlement negotiations. (Doc. 52.) On January 4,
2016, the parties met for an in-person settlement conference
in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Doc. 53.)
April 11, 2016, the parties reported that they had settled.
(Doc. 64.) After receiving two extensions of time, (Docs. 67,
69), on June 17, Plaintiffs filed the instant motion, (Doc.
70), which is unopposed by Defendants.
Preliminary Approval of the Class
courts have discretion to approve proposed class action
settlements. Maywalt v. Parker & Parsley Petroleum
Co., 67 F.3d 1072, 1079 (2d Cir. 1995). The parties and
their counsel are in a unique position to assess the
potential risks of litigation, and thus district courts in
exercising their discretion often give weight to the fact
that the parties have chosen to settle. See Yuzary v.
HSBC Bank USA, N.A, No. 12-CV-3693, 2013 WL 1832181, at
*1 (S.D.N.Y. Apr. 30, 2013).
of a proposed settlement generally involves preliminary
approval followed by a fairness hearing. Silver v. 31
Great Jones Rest., No. 11 CV 7442 (KMW)(DCF), 2013 WL
208918, at *1 (S.D.N.Y. Jan. 4, 2013). To grant preliminary
approval, a court need only find “probable cause to
submit the [settlement] proposal to class members and hold a
full-scale hearing as to its fairness.” In re
Traffic Exec. Ass 'n-E R.R.s, 627 F.2d 631, 634 (2d
Cir. 1980) (internal quotation marks omitted). Preliminary
approval is typically granted “where the proposed
settlement appears to be the product of serious, informed,
non-collusive negotiations, has no obvious deficiencies, does
not improperly grant preferential treatment to class
representatives or segments of the class and falls within the
range of possible approval.” Silver, 2013 WL
208918, at *1 (quoting In re Initial Pub. Offering Sec.
Litig., 226 F.R.D. 186, 191 (S.D.N.Y. 2005)) (internal
reviewed Plaintiffs' submissions, including the
Settlement Agreement and the Declaration of Andrew Frisch, I
conclude that the settlement is the result of substantial
investigative efforts, (Frisch. Decl. ¶¶
32-42; Pls.' Mem. 10-12), arm's length
negotiations, (Frisch. Decl. ¶¶ 43-47; Pls.'
Mem. 12), and that its terms are within the range of possible
settlement approval, (Frisch. Decl. ¶ 54).
Conditional Certification of the Proposed Class and
Appointment of Class Counsel, Class ...