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Law Firms Net $1M in Fees in Scotts OT Action

May 25, 2021 | Posted in : Contingency Fees / POF, Expenses / Costs, Fee Allocation / Fee Apportionment, Fee Award, Fee Award Factors, Fee Jurisprudence, FRCP, Hours Billled, Practice Area: Class Action / Mass Tort / MDL, Settlement Data / Terms

A recent Law 360 story by Matt  Perez“Scott OT Suit Nets More Than $1M in Atty Fees,” reports that a Florida federal judge has approved over $1 million in fees for attorneys at law firms Morgan & Morgan PA, Cohen Rosenthal & Kramer LLP and Gallup Auerbach who successfully brought a proposed class action against Scotts Co. LLC to a $3.1 million settlement.  U.S. District Judge Rodney Smith in the Southern District of Florida gave final approval for $1,028,332.96 in attorney fees and $39,715.30 for costs and expenses. The payment amounts to just over 33% of the settlement figure.

The order also approved the $3,084,999 settlement — aside from the service awards that were stricken from the agreement — between The Scotts Co. and hundreds of lawn care workers, who accused the company of shorting them of overtime pay by using a "fluctuating workweek" methodology.  Plaintiffs Antonio Ervin, Kyle Borgailo, Colin Rogers, Matthew Shedron, Alexander Ramirez and Michael Melchior were designated class representatives, per the order.

Members of the settlement class will receive an award of $100 or more before taxes, making up an average 83% of the back wages they're owed before attorney and other fees.  Ervin alleged in his 2018 complaint that Scotts paid him just $4 to $5 an hour in overtime, despite his hourly pay rate being $13.75.  The final approval order released the defendants of any claims related to unpaid wages prior to Dec. 31, 2016.

"The court finds that the prerequisites for a class action under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23 have been satisfied for settlement purposes for each settlement class member," the order said.  The court approved the attorneys' awards due to the 1,700 hours of work required, the complex substantive issues of the case that presented "significant risk of nonpayment," the "excellent monetary results" for the plaintiffs and the level of skill required to work through the lawsuit. The court also felt the percentage cut from the settlement was consistent with other class action settlements in its jurisdiction.