A more than 10-year-old wage lawsuit against J.B. Hunt Transport appears to be coming to an end as the Arkansas trucking company and a class of drivers agreed to a $15 million settlement on Oct. 1.
A motion for the order was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. Approval of the settlement was set for Oct. 29.
The lawsuit was originally filed in December 2007 and includes truck drivers Gerardo Ortega and Michael D. Patton as lead plaintiffs. The lawsuit alleged that J.B. Hunt’s compensation system violated California law by failing to pay drivers for meal and rest breaks. In August, a federal judge decertified the class of about 11,000 truck drivers.
“The case has been extensively litigated for 11 years,” the motion from the plaintiffs stated. “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.
According to the motion, no class members will be required to submit claim forms to receive their share of the settlement. All participating class members will have a check mailed to them once the settlement becomes final.
Under the terms of the proposed settlement, J.B. Hunt will pay a gross settlement amount of $15 million, all of which is nonreversionary. The gross settlement amount includes all payments to settlement class members, employee-side payroll taxes, settlement administration costs, attorneys’ fees and costs, and service awards.
“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,” the motion stated.
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