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Carrel v. Medpro Group Inc.

United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Fort Wayne Division

July 30, 2018

GRETCHEN B. CARREL, on behalf of herself and others similarly situated, Plaintiff,
v.
MEDPRO GROUP, INC., Defendant.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          CHIEF JUDGE THERESA L. SPRINGMANN UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT

         This matter is before the Court on the Plaintiff's Motion for Final Approval of Class-Wide Settlement of Family and Medical Leave Act Claim [ECF No. 87] and Motion for Attorney Fees and Costs on FMLA Claim [ECF No. 75]. The Plaintiff moves for a final order approving the Settlement Agreement and Full and Final Release [ECF No. 70-1], entered into between the Named Plaintiff Gretchen B. Carrel, on behalf of herself and the Settlement Class, and the Defendant MedPro Group, Inc. For the reasons stated herein, the Court finds that the Settlement Agreement is fair, reasonable, and adequate.

         BACKGROUND

         The Plaintiff, on behalf of herself and others similarly situated, filed suit against her former employer, Defendant MedPro Group, Inc., alleging that the Defendant engaged in a policy that violated the Family Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA), 29 U.S.C. § 2601, by reducing employees' Paid Time Off (PTO) when an employee took FMLA leave.

         On October 12, 2016, the Plaintiff Gretchen B. Carrel sought class certification on her FMLA claim at issue in this matter [ECF No. 35]. On April 26, 2017, the Court granted the motion and certified the FMLA claim for the following class:

All current or former MedPro Group, Inc. employees who took FMLA leave after or through March 30, 2013, and whose annual allotment of PTO was adversely affected by taking such leave.

[ECF No. 57]. After the Court granted the Plaintiff's Motion for Class Certification, the parties reached a proposed settlement that would resolve all claims in this case. On August 11, 2017, the Plaintiff filed a Motion for Preliminary Approval [ECF No. 70] of the class-wide settlement of the FMLA claim, as well as the Settlement Agreement and Full and Final Release [ECF No. 70-1]. The Settlement requires the Defendant to pay $2, 000 to the Plaintiff as an incentive award, $72, 330.78 in attorney's fees and litigation expenses, and the amounts included in Exhibit A of the Settlement, which were calculated as follows:

         Class Members were divided into two groups: (1) Class Members who used all of their PTO in the same year that their PTO was reduced as a result of taking FMLA (Settlement Class I); and (2) Class Members who did not use all their PTO in the same year that their PTO was reduced as a result of taking FMLA (Settlement Class II). The anticipated recovery for the members of Settlement Class I is 1.75 multiplied by their hourly rate of pay and the number of hours their PTO was reduced. The anticipated recovery for members of the Settlement Class II is 1.5 multiplied by their hourly rate of pay and the number of hours their PTO was reduced.

         The Court granted preliminary approval [ECF No. 73] on November 6, 2017, and in connection with the preliminary approval, the Court ordered that class members be sent a notice of the proposed settlement, which included a sixty-day cut-off date to opt out of the class or to object to the proposed settlement. The Court also confirmed Matthew C. Elliott as Class Counsel for the Class Representative and the Class.

         The Court conducted a Fairness Hearing on March 21, 2018 [ECF No. 85], to consider: (i) the fairness, reasonableness, and adequacy of the settlement; (ii) the contents of the Final Order of Approval of Settlement; and (iii) the application of Class Counsel for attorney's fees and costs.

         DISCUSSION

         Pursuant to Rule 23, the Court will evaluate the notice provided to the class members, the adequacy of the settlement agreement, and the propriety of the attorney's fees and the additional payment to the Named Plaintiff.

         A. Notice

         Rule 23 requires that the Class Members receive “the best notice that is practicable under the circumstances, including individual notice to all members who can be identified through reasonable effort.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 23(c)(2)(B). Reasonable notice is required to all ...


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