When most people go to work and put in their time completing their assigned responsibilities, there’s an expectation that there will be some sort of compensation for any work completed. Unfortunately, there are occasions when this doesn’t happen, and lawsuits are filed as a result, and sometimes those lawsuits end with settlements. For example, after more than a decade spent locked in a dispute over wages, J.B. Hunt Transport finally agreed to a $15 million settlement with a class of drivers. The agreement was announced earlier this month on October 1 and final approval of the settlement is scheduled for October 29.
The lawsuit itself was originally filed back in December 2007 against J.B. Hunt Transport, an Arkansas trucking company. The plaintiffs in the case included “truck drivers Gerardo Ortega and Michael D. Patton.” Together, the plaintiffs argued in their suit that “J.B. Hunt’s compensation system violated California law by failing to pay drivers for meal and rest breaks.”
A motion from the plaintiffs stated the following:
“The case has been extensively litigated for 11 years. It involved novel and cutting-edge legal theories relating to class certification, liability under California’s wage and hour laws, and federal preemption. In fact, the case was previously dismissed based on federal preemption grounds, reinstated by the Ninth Circuit, and finally decertified six weeks before the scheduled class trial. At the time of decertification, this court had also rendered two critical rulings on the parties’ motions for partial summary judgment…Against this very complex backdrop, the parties were finally able to reach a proposed classwide settlement in the amount of $15 million.”
How can potential class members get a share of the settlement? It’s easy. According to the motion, “no class members will be required to submit claim forms to receive their share of the settlement.” Anyone participating in the class action suit will eventually “have a check mailed to them once the settlement becomes final.”
What’s included in the proposed settlement agreement, though? What will the funds cover? For starters, “J.B. Hunt will pay a gross settlement amount of $15 million, all of which is nonreversionary,” and the funds will be used to pay all the class members, as well as “employee-side payroll taxes, settlement administration costs, attorneys’ fees and costs, and service awards.” Additionally, according to the motion:
“Each class member who does not opt out of the settlement will be entitled to receive a proportionate share of the total net settlement fund based upon his or her respective share of the total class’ workweeks.”