United States District Court, D. New Jersey
ALEJANDRO LUPIAN, JUAN LUPIAN, ISAIAS LUNA, JOSE REYES and EFRAIN LUCATERO, individual and on behalf of all others similarly situated, Plaintiffs,
JOSEPH CORY HOLDINGS, Defendant.
WILLIAM J. MARTINI, U.S.D.J.
MATTER comes before the Court upon Plaintiff's Motion for
Preliminary Approval of a Class Action Settlement, ECF No.
[50-1] (“Motion”), filed on April 30, 2019.
Defendant consents to the Motion. For the reasons set forth
below, the Motion is
Factual Background and Procedural Posture
Joseph Cory Holdings LLC (“Cory” or
‘Defendant”) provides delivery services for
various national furniture retailers in Illinois. ECF No. 
¶ 13. Plaintiffs Alejandro Lupian, Isaias Luna, Jose
Reyes, and Efrain Lucatero (“Plaintiffs”) worked
for Defendant as delivery truck drivers. Id. ¶
13-14. Plaintiffs were paid a set wage, did not receive
overtime, and had certain amounts deducted from their
paychecks for insurance, unsatisfactory deliveries, and other
expenses. Although Plaintiffs each signed a contract which
stated that they were independent contractors, Plaintiffs
allege that they should have been classified as employees
under Illinois law and that the amounts Defendant deducted
from their wages were impermissible. Plaintiffs further allege
that they worked more than forty hours a week but were not
paid overtime in compliance with state law.
on these facts Plaintiffs initially filed this action on
August 25, 2016, alleging violations of the Illinois Wage
Payment and Collections Act (“IWPCA”), 820 Ill.
Comp. Stat. 115/9; the New Jersey Wage Payment Law, N.J.
Stat. §§ 34:11-4.2, 24:11-4.4; and the New Jersey
Wage and Hour Law, N.J. Stat. §§ 34:11-56a(4).
Plaintiffs also asserted a count for unjust enrichment.
subsequently moved to dismiss, arguing that (1) the Federal
Aviation Administration Authorization Act
(“FAAAA”), 49 U.S.C. § 14501(c), preempts
the state wage law claims; (2) Plaintiffs lack standing to
bring the New Jersey law claims; and (3) Plaintiffs'
unjust enrichment claim fails because a contract governs the
relationship of the parties. ECF No. . On March 7, 2017,
the Court granted in part and denied in part Defendant's
motion to dismiss. ECF No. . Specifically, the Court
granted Defendant's motion to dismiss with prejudice the
New Jersey state law claims and the unjust enrichment claim
based on contract and choice of law principles. Id.
The Court further found IWPCA was not preempted by the FAAAA
and denied Defendant's motion to dismiss that claim.
Defendant moved the Court to certify an order for
interlocutory appeal concerning the issue of whether the
FAAAA preempts the IWPCA, which the Court granted. ECF No.
. The Third Circuit appeal ensued.
February 5, 2019, the mandate issued from the Third Circuit
affirming this Court's preemption holding. ECF No. ,
Lupian v. Joseph Cory Holdings LLC, 905 F.3d 127 (3d
Cir. 2018). The parties subsequently participated in
mediation and reached a proposed class-wide settlement. Now
they jointly move for certification of a settlement class.
ECF No. .
action may be certified if: (1) the class is so numerous that
joinder is impracticable (“numerosity”); (2)
there are questions of law or fact common to the class
(“commonality”); (3) the claims or defenses of
the representative parties are typical of the claims or
defenses of the class (“typicality”); and (4) the
representative parties will fairly and adequately protect the
interests of the class (“adequacy”). In re
Constar Int'l Inc. Sec. Litig., 585 F.3d 774, 780
(3d Cir. 2009) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 23(a)).
addition to Rule 23(a), a plaintiff must also meet one of the
requirements set forth in Rule 23(b). Id.
Plaintiff's here seek certification of a settlement class
under Rule 23(b)(3), which permits certification only if (1)
questions of law or fact common to class members predominate
over individual questions (“predominance”), and
(2) a class action is the superior method for fairly and
efficiently adjudicating the controversy
(“superiority”). Fed.R.Civ.P. 23(b)(3). To
determine predominance and superiority, the Court considers:
“(A) the class members' interests in individually
controlling the prosecution or defense of separate actions;
(B) the extent and nature of any litigation concerning the
controversy already begun by or against class members; (C)
the desirability or undesirability of concentrating the
litigation of the claims in the particular forum; and (D) the
likely difficulties in managing a class action.”
Amchem Prod., Inc. v. Windsor, 521 U.S. 591, 615-16
Rule 23 requirement must be established by a preponderance of
the evidence. In re Blood Reagents Antitrust Litig.,
783 F.3d 183, 187 (3d Cir. 2015). While the class
certification analysis may “entail some overlap with
the merits of the plaintiff's underlying claim, ”
the court considers merits questions only to the extent they
are relevant to performing the “rigorous
analysis” required to determine whether the Rule 23
prerequisites are met. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v.
Dukes, 564 U.S. 338, 351 (2011).
requirements of Rule 23 apply to both classes certified for
trial and classes certified for settlement. Amchem,
521 U.S. at 615. In the case of a settlement class, the
district court may consider the proposed settlement agreement
in determining whether certification is appropriate. In
re Prudential Ins. Co. Am. Sales Practice Litig., 148
F.3d 283, 308 (3d Cir. 1998). However, for settlement
classes, Rule 23's manageability inquiries are somewhat
diminished, while the analysis of the fairness to the class
and protection of absentee members is equally rigorous.
Id. (citing Amchem, 521 U.S. at 620).
The Rule ...