Dewitt v. Securitas Security Services USA Inc et al
MEMORANDUM OPINION: Re 32 Joint Motion, The Court intends to give final approval and unseal the settlement documents promptly on 30 November 2012 unless the parties advise the Court before then that making the details public means there is no settlement and the cases should therefore stay on the docket for adjudication. Signed by Judge D. P. Marshall Jr. on 11/16/2012. (mcz)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF ARKANSAS
DAVID DELOCK; ALISHA
MEREDITH; ERIC MOTLEY;
STEPHEN CARLSON; DEBORAH
GOLDHORN; JOHNNY BROWN;
BOBBY WALKER; TIMOTHY PIERCE;
BRIAN PEASE; CHRIS WILSON;
NICHOLE LEDFORD; BRIAN
HATHAWAY; and STEVE BUCKER,*
all individually and on behalf of others
SECURITAS SECURITY SERVICES
USA, INC. and SECURITAS SERVICES,
CONNIE DEWITT, individually and
on behalf of others similarly situated
SECURITAS SECURITY SERVICES USA
INC. and SECURITAS SERVICES, INC.
* Bucker is not listed on the docket sheet as a party. He was added by
stipulation. Document No. 64. The Court directs the Clerk to add him.
With one exception, the proposed settlement is fair, reasonable, and
adequate based on all the material circumstances.
When approving a
settlement, a District Court must consider: (a) the probability of success in the
litigation; (b) the difficulties associated with collecting the award; (c) the
complexity of the litigation involved, and the inconvenience and delay
necessarily attending it; and (d) the interests of the parties and a proper
deference to their reasonable views in the premises. In re Flight Transportation
Corp. Securities Litigation, 730 F.2d 1128, 1135 (8th Cir. 1984) (Richard S.
Plaintiffs' counsel reports that the proposed Settlement
Agreement pays each plaintiff for all time worked" off-the-clock," satisfying
their interests and achieving the primary goal of the litigation. Defendants
will bear attorney's fees without conceding fault. And settlement avoids the
substantial costs and delays of a trial.
The Court notes that the portion of the settlement devoted to attorney's
fees might appear generous; but the Court has reviewed the billing records,
which show a substantial reduction between the time spent and this part of
the recovery. The Court is also mindful that this agreed number is the
product of an arm's length compromise. The parties know their case better
than the Court does. In sum, the fees are not excessive given all the material
Overall, each factor weighs in favor of the proposed
settlement's fairness, reasonableness, and adequacy. 730 F.2d at 1128.
The one exception. No compelling reason has been demonstrated to
keep the proposed settlement confidential.
The parties' joint motion,
Document No. 65, points to a number of cases supporting the notion that
federal courts routinely approve confidential settlements. This may be so.
But no controlling authority exists on this point. Ibid. The parties also say
that settlement would not have been possible without an agreement to keep
the terms confidential. Ibid. Maybe or maybe not. The spur to settle provided
by confidentiality, though, does not overcome the public's right of access to
court records. Arkansas Best Corp. v. General Electric Capital Corp., 317 Ark. 238,
247, 878 S.W.2d 708, 713 (1994).
"One of the basic principles of a democracy is the people have a right
to know what is done in their courts." Arkansas Dept. Of Human Services v.
Hardy,316Ark.119, 123,871 S.W.2d352,355 (1994). And thepressmusthave
access to the judicial process to subject that process to public scrutiny and
comment. Arkansas Television Co. v. Tedder, 281 Ark. 152, 154,662 S.W.2d 174,
175 (1983). Our law "favors a policy of maximum public access" because
secret judicial proceedings could defeat this vital "synergy of the peoples'
right and the press's function." Hardy, 316 Ark. at 123,871 S.W.2d at 355; see
also Sheppard v. Maxwell, 384 U.S. 333,350,86 S. Ct. 1507,1515-16 (1966) (when
court business is conducted in private, it becomes impossible to expose
corruption, incompetence, inefficiency, prejudice, and favoritism). In keeping
with these venerable principles and traditions favoring open court records,
the Court concludes that any settlement agreement should be public.
The Court intends to give final approval and unseal the settlement
documents promptly on 30 November 2012 unless the parties advise the
Court before then that making the details public means there is no settlement
and the cases should therefore stay on the docket for adjudication.
D.P. Marshall Jr.l/
United States District Judge
/w NfNeM-Mt 1!11
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