Frequently Asked Questions

 

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  • The Lawsuit is a class action and representative action, meaning a lawsuit where the claims and rights of many people are decided in a single court proceeding.

    Lawsuit was commenced on May 24, 2019 as a class action and representative action on behalf of employees of Melo Dairy through filing a complaint against Melo Dairy in Torres v. Melo Dairy, et al. in the Superior Court of California, County of Kern, Case No. BCV-19-101450. representative action was brought under the California Private Attorney General Act (PAGA).

    The Lawsuit alleges various wage and hour claims on behalf of the named Plaintiff, Mr. Torres, and on behalf of other current and former employees of Melo Dairy who were employed by Melo Dairy in California and were paid by Melo Dairy any time between May 24, 2015 and February 3, 2021. Specifically, the Lawsuit alleges Melo Dairy failed to pay minimum wages and overtime wages, failed to provide meal periods and rest periods or pay the premium pay for missed meal and rest periods, failed to pay all wages upon termination and/or resignation, violated California’s Business and Professions Code section 17200 et seq., and seeks representative action treatment and penalties under PAGA.

    Melo Dairy denies the allegations. Melo Dairy expressly denies any and all charges of wrongdoing or liability arising out of the alleged acts, omissions, facts, matters, transactions, or occurrences alleged, or that could have been alleged, in the Lawsuit. Melo Dairy contends that it has complied with applicable state and federal laws, including but not limited to paying its non-exempt hourly employees all wages and reimbursements due, issuing accurate, itemized wage statements, timely paying its non-exempt employees all wages owed upon termination.

    Accordingly, Plaintiff and Melo Dairy have agreed to settle the Lawsuit, subject to Court approval, upon the terms set forth in the Stipulation for Class Action Settlement and Release (the “Stipulation” or “Settlement Agreement”). The Settlement is a compromise. Melo Dairy, by settling the Lawsuit, does not admit, concede or imply any fault, wrongdoing, or liability.

  • Melo Dairy’s business and employment records indicate you were/are an employee at Melo Dairy during the Applicable Period and are entitled to receive a payment under the distribution formula described in the section below. Based upon these records, you appear to be a Class Member who may participate in this Settlement.

  • Plaintiff and Melo Dairy disagree as to whether there is any liability, including but not limited to: (1) whether this lawsuit is appropriate for treatment as a class action; (2) whether the Settlement Class Members are owed any unpaid wages, compensation, or penalties; and (3) the amount of wages or penalties owed, if any. Melo Dairy has raised numerous defenses to Plaintiff’s claims and those defenses could significantly reduce or even eliminate any liability or damages owed to the Settlement Class Members. Class Counsel has conducted an extensive investigation into the facts of the class action and the Plaintiff’s and Class Members’ claims, including through formal discovery, informal disclosures between the Parties, and other investigations undertaken by counsel for Plaintiff and the proposed Class Members. Furthermore, the Parties engaged in extensive negotiations and exchange of data, documents, information and mediation with mediator Hon. Judge Howard Broadman (Ret.). As a result, Class Counsel have concluded that the Settlement Agreement is fair, reasonable, and adequate and is in the best interest of the Settlement Class in light of all known facts and circumstances, including the likely damages, risk of significant delay, risk that the Action would not proceed on a class action basis, defenses asserted by Melo Dairy, and numerous potential appellate issues. The Settlement ends the continued expense of further litigation, the risk and uncertainty of possible negative future outcomes and attendant delay. The terms of the Settlement were reviewed by the Court and preliminarily approved as being fair and reasonable to the Class Members. The Court has not ruled on the merits of Plaintiff, Mr. Torres’s claims.

  • In a class action lawsuit, one or more persons sue on behalf of other people who have similar claims. Mr. Torres is the court-appointed Class Representative in the Lawsuit, and asserts claims on behalf of himself and similarly situated individuals. A class action allows the Court to resolve the claims of all the class members at the same time. Unless a class member requests to be excluded, he or she is bound by the determination or judgment entered in the case, whether the class wins or loses, and may not file his or her own lawsuit on the same claims that were alleged and released. A class action allows one court to resolve all of the issues in a lawsuit for all the class members who choose not exclude themselves from the class.

  • Do nothing and you will receive your share of the Settlement Amount for the general class claims.

  • You can ask the Court to deny final approval of the Settlement by filing an objection to the Settlement. You cannot ask the Court to order a larger settlement, or to change the terms of the settlement; the Court can only approve or deny the proposed Settlement. If the Court denies final approval of the Settlement, no settlement payments will be made to anyone and the Lawsuit will continue. If that is what you want to happen, you must object.

    If you wish to object to the proposed Settlement for the general class claims, you must mail a written objection to the Court and to the Settlement Administrator regarding the final approval of the proposed Settlement Agreement, including any objection to Class Counsel’s motion for attorneys’ fees and costs. Such objection and any supporting briefs or other materials must be mailed, via First Class U.S. Mail, to the Court and to the Settlement Administrator and postmarked no later than April 19, 2021. Class Members who opt-out of the Settlement may not file and serve an objection or otherwise object to this Settlement Agreement.

    postmark date of the mailing of an objection shall be deemed the exclusive means for determining that the objection is timely. An objection must be dated, signed, and must state the case name and number, the participating Class Member’s name, current address and telephone number, each objection and the basis or reason for each objection, and whether the participating Class Member intends to appear at the Final Fairness Hearing.

    To Court:
    Hon. Judge David R. Lampe
    1415 Truxtun Avenue, Dept. 11
    Bakersfield, CA 93301

    To Claims Administrator:
    Torres v. Melo Dairy et al.
    c/o JND Legal Administration
    PO Box 91348
    Seattle, WA 98111

    You do not need to appear for the Final Approval Hearing in order to have your objection considered. If you have submitted a valid and timely Notice of Objection, then you have the right to appear before the Court at the Final Approval Hearing currently scheduled for May 17, 2021. at 8:30 a.m. in department 11 the Kern County Courthouse located at 1415 Truxtun Avenue, Dept. 11 Bakersfield, CA 93301. You may appear at the Final Approval Hearing either in person or through your own attorney. If you appear through your own attorney, you are responsible for paying that attorney. You may both object to the Settlement and participate in it. Filing an objection will not exclude you from the Settlement. If you wish to be excluded from the Settlement, then you must follow the procedure below by opting out.

  • You have the right not to participate in this Settlement. If you do not want to participate in the Settlement and receive payment, you must timely return a completed Request for Exclusion to the court-appointed Settlement Administrator at Torres v. Melo Dairy, c/o JND Legal Administration, PO Box 91348, Seattle, WA 98111.

    The completed Request for Exclusion must (1) include a clear statement of your intention to be excluded from the settlement; (2) include your full name, address, and telephone number; (3) be signed and dated; (4) be returned by U.S. Mail to the Claims Administrator at the specified address; and (5) must be postmarked no later than April 19, 2021.

    You must mail your completed Request for Exclusion by no later than April 19, 2021. Requests for exclusion that are not timely submitted or complete will be disregarded. Any person who excludes themselves from the Settlement will not be entitled to any portion of the Settlement Amount. All Class Members who have not opted to exclude themselves will be bound by the Settlement.

  • Without admitting any wrongdoing, Melo Dairy has agreed to pay Three Hundred and Seventy Five Thousand Dollars and no cents ($375,000.00) (the “Settlement Amount”) to fully resolve the individual, class, and representative claims asserted by Plaintiff, Mr. Torres, in this action, for Class Counsel’s attorneys’ fees and costs in this Class Action, for Service Awards to Plaintiff as the Class Representative for his efforts on behalf of other Class Members, and for the costs of claims administration. The Net Settlement Amount may vary if the Court does not approve the requested amount for fees, litigation expenses, or class representative service payments. No portion of the Settlement Amount will revert to Melo Dairy.

  • Subject to Court approval, distributions will be made from the Settlement Amount as follows:

    First, a Service Award payment of Fifteen Thousand Dollars and no cents ($15,000.00) to Plaintiff, Enrique Juarez Torres, in exchange for his general release and other valuable consideration.

    Second, Class Counsel will ask the Court to award up to One Hundred and Fifty Thousand Dollars and no cents ($150,000.00) in reasonable attorneys’ fees for work performed on behalf of Class Members and up to Eight Thousand Dollars and no cents ($8,000.00) in litigation costs. The Court will determine the actual amount awarded.

    Third, payment to the Settlement Administrator for the costs of administration of no more than $21,000 for administration of the settlement

    Fourth, the remaining amount (the “Net Settlement Amount”) will be distributed to Class Members who do not exclude themselves from the Settlement as described below.

  • If you are a Class Member and you do not exclude yourself from this Settlement before April 19, 2021, you become a “Participating Settlement Class Member,” entitled to a Settlement Payment. Your Settlement Payment shall be calculated on a “pro rata” basis based on the “pro rata” number of weeks worked by each Participating Settlement Class Member during the Applicable Period.

    Your Notice included an estimated amount of your award based on your number of Work Weeks.

    If you dispute the information provided in the Notice regarding the number of Work Weeks you worked for Melo Dairy in California during the Class Period, then you must timely submit a letter to the Settlement Administrator, stating that you are challenging the number of Work Weeks, provide the number of Work Weeks you believe your worked, and provide supporting documentation to the Settlement Administrator by April 19, 2021. If you fail to timely challenge this information or timely submit supporting documentation, then your Settlement Payment will be based on Melo Dairy’s records, which are presumed to be correct.

  • 1/3 of your settlement payment share is treated as wages that are subject to the normal payroll taxes, withholdings and W-2 reporting. Another 1/3 will be treated as penalties that are not subject to payroll taxes and are subject to IRS Form 1099 reporting. The remaining 1/3 will be treated as interest that are not subject to payroll taxes and are subject to IRS From 1099 reporting. You are solely and exclusively responsible for remitting to state and/or federal taxing authorities any applicable other taxes that you are personally responsible.

  • Class Counsel have not yet received any payment for the services that they have provided in this litigation on behalf of Plaintiff and the Settlement Class, nor have they been reimbursed for their out-of-pocket expenses incurred on behalf of the Settlement Class, which are expected not to exceed $8,000.

    Class Counsel will file a motion with the Court to approve payment of attorneys’ fees to Class Counsel in the amount of $150,000.00, plus reimbursement of the litigation costs they advanced, all of which would be paid to Class Counsel from the $375,000.00 Settlement Amount. The attorneys’ fees and costs must be approved by the Court.

    These fees will serve to compensate Class Counsel for their efforts achieving the settlement for the benefit of the Settlement Class and for the risk in undertaking this representation on a contingency basis. Class Counsel have already spent many hours litigating this case, conducting discovery, investigating Class Members’ claims, and negotiating this Settlement. You can review Class Counsel’s motion for attorneys’ fees and costs, which will be filed with the Court by April 22, 2021, on the settlement website.

  • In exchange for these payments, Plaintiff, Mr. Torres and the Participating Settlement Class Members, including their heirs, assigns, and estates, agree to release all claims that were asserted and settled in the Lawsuit against Melo Dairy with prejudice. This means that all members of the Settlement Class who do not opt out will be barred from seeking, among other things, any other relief on any and all claims pertaining to overtime and minimum wage claims arising from or related to your employment with Melo Dairy; wage statement claims (California Labor Code §226) arising from pay periods in which the Participating Settlement Class Member was employed during; waiting time penalties (California Labor Code §203); rest and meal break claims (California Labor Code §226.7); PAGA claims, including unpaid overtime and minimum wage claims, meal and rest break claims, wage statement claims, and waiting time penalty claims; Bus. & Prof. Code §17200, et seq. claims, including but not limited to unpaid overtime and minimum wage claims, meal and rest break claims, wage statement claims, and waiting time penalty claims; and any other claims that were alleged or could have been alleged under any state, municipal or federal statute, ordinance, regulation, order or common law based on the same factual predicate as those claims alleged in the operative Complaint, except those specifically provided for under the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, as amended (29 U.S.C. §§201, et seq.). This includes all claims that were asserted in the pleadings or could have been asserted in the pleadings based on the same factual predicate as those claims alleged during the Class Period except those specifically provided for under the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, as amended (29 U.S.C. §§201, et seq.). Participating Settlement Class Members will be bound by this release, even if they take no action in response to this Notice. (You may read a fuller description of the types of claims in the parties’ Stipulation of Settlement and Release, as noted below).

  • The Court will hold a hearing in the California Superior Court for the County of Kern, Department 11, located at 1415 Truxtun Avenue, California 93301, on May 17, 2021, at 8:30 a.m. to decide whether to finally approve the Settlement as fair, reasonable, and adequate. At that time, the Court also will be asked to approve Class Counsel’s request for attorneys’ fees and reimbursement of litigation costs, and the Service Awards for Plaintiff. If you wish to appear at the hearing you must file and mail your written comments pursuant to the procedure described above, no later than April 19, 2021. It is possible that the hearing date or time will be changed, so you should check the Court’s calendar before attending, if you plan to attend. If you mail written comments, it is not necessary for you to appear at this hearing.

  • The Notice only summarizes the Lawsuit, the Settlement, and related matters. The pleadings and other documents in this Lawsuit may be examined during regular business hours at the Office of the Clerk, located at 1415 Truxtun Avenue, California 93301. Settlement related documents, dates, deadlines and other information will be posted to this Website.

    The Notice has been reviewed and approved by Hon. Judge David R. Lampe of the California Superior Court for the County of Kern. If you have any questions regarding this lawsuit and how it affects your rights, please contact Class Counsel or the Settlement Administrator and ask about the Melo Dairy Settlement.

    Torres v. Melo Dairy, et al.
    c/o JND Legal Administration
    PO Box 91348
    Seattle, WA 98111

    or

    Class Counsel:
    Evan Selik
    Christine Zaouk
    McCathern, LLP
    523 W. Fifth Street, Suite 830
    Los Angeles, California 90014
    Telephone: 213-225-6150
    Email: eselik@mccathernlaw.com
    Email: czaouk@mccathernlaw.com

For More Information

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Mail
Torres v. Melo Dairy et al.
c/o JND Legal Administration
PO Box 91348
Seattle, WA 98111