San Francisco CA June 27 2017 -- A certified class of U.S. Security Associates Inc. security guards asked a California federal court Friday to preliminary approve a $21 million deal that would resolve allegations the company failed to give guards meal breaks and violated multiple labor statutes and end eight years of litigation.
Under the deal, class attorneys indicated that they would likely request the maximum 33 percent of the settlement fund to account for more than 7,000 hours of time they spent over the past eight years representing the security guards. Meanwhile, the 17,000 possible class members would receive $1,235 on average before all deductions.
“The settlement will result in the class members receiving substantial sums and represents an outstanding resolution of a heavily contested eight-year long lawsuit,” the class’ motion for preliminary settlement approval says.
If approved, the deal would mark an end to a class action that lead plaintiff Muhammed Abdullah launched in January 2009, alleging the company violated multiple state and federal labor statutes. The suit alleged the company didn’t provide security guards with meal and rest breaks, compelled guards to make certain purchases, failed to pay guards for missed vacation time, failed to pay workers upon termination and more.
In 2011, the district court certified a class of California security guards in Abdullah’s action, but shortly after, U.S. Security Associates appealed the ruling to the Ninth Circuit. In September 2013, the appellate court upheld the lower court's certification order and later denied the company’s bid for an en banc rehearing.
U.S. Security Associates then filed a petition for writ of certiorari in the U.S. Supreme Court, but the high court refused to take up the case. The Ninth Circuit decision was not only critical to this case, but to the bench and bar generally, the security guards noted in their motion. In less than three years following the Ninth Circuit’s 2013 ruling, the decision has been cited in more than 140 decisions, they said.
As Abdullah was fighting the company's appeals, plaintiffs Juan-Leal Cardenas and Robert Stone filed two other putative class actions against the company in May 2013 and January 2015, respectively, alleging similar labor statute violations and also asserting claims under the Private Attorneys General Act. By April 2015, both cases were related to Abdullah's action.
After extensive mediation, in December, the parties filed a notice that a settlement had been reached, and on Friday, the details of the proposed deal became public. Under the terms, the parties agreed to an opt-out, non-reversionary settlement that would resolve all of the claims brought in the Abdullah action and the wage PAGA claims asserted in the Stone action.
Class members would receive a payment depending on how many shifts they worked, and they wouldn’t have to submit claim forms to receive their share of the settlement proceeds, the motion says.
A hearing on the motion for preliminary settlement approval is scheduled for Aug. 14.
Counsel for both parties didn’t immediately respond Monday to requests for comment.
The security guards and officers are represented by Stanley D. Saltzman and Cody R. Kennedy of Marlin & Saltzman, Peter M. Hart and Peter Choi of the Law Offices of Peter M. Hart, Kenneth H. Yoon, Larry W. Lee of Diversity Law Group and Peter R. Dione Kindem of The Dion-Kindem Law Firm.
U.S. Security Associates is represented by Julie E. Patterson, Brian A. Sher and Mariangela M. Seale of Bryan Cave LLP.
The case is Muhammed Abdullah et al. v. U.S. Security Associates, case number 2:09-cv-09554, in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.