P.F. Chang’s Gets OK On $6.5M Calif. Wage-And-Hour Deal
By RJ Vogt
Law360 — P.F. Chang’s China Bistro Inc. has agreed to pay $6.5 million to a class of approximately 17,000 current and former workers who accused the restaurant chain of wage and hour violations, according to a California federal judge who affirmed the settlement on Monday.
The deal includes classes from three separate lawsuits, with a class period spanning from July 2009 through Monday. The restaurant chain denies any wrongdoing, while the class estimates P.F. Chang’s potential liability exposure is over $13 million; U.S. District Judge Janis L. Sammartino said Monday that $6.5 million is a reasonable compromise.
“The settlement amount represents approximately half the value of the class members’ most probable claims,” the judge wrote. “Additionally, the settlement is the result of arm’s-length negotiations conducted over five years, including each party’s individual discovery and valuation of the case and two full-day mediation sessions before an experienced mediator.”
The case began in November 2012, when Linda Andrade and Liliana Avila filed a proposed class action alleging the Chinese restaurant chain violated California Labor and Business and Profession Codes. Joy Pearson filed her own proposed class action over the same claims in July 2013, and a third was originally filed in state court in January 2015.
All three suits accused P.F. Chang’s of failing to provide meal and rest periods or set wage-related policies for things like overtime and minimum wage. The suits also claimed P.F. Chang’s failed to pay split-shift premiums or issue timely pay to employees when discharging them from employment.
According to Monday’s order, the parties engaged in voluminous discovery and arbitration over the course of five years. They also engaged in two full-day mediations, the judge said.
Judge Sammartino also said she could approve the settlement for the state court case despite not having subject matter jurisdiction because the claims in that suit arise from the same “common nucleus of operative fact” as their federal court counterparts.
Monday’s filing noted class counsel will receive up to $2.17 million, or one-third of the total deal.
Counsel for the class declined to comment on Tuesday. Counsel for the restaurant did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The class is represented by Tyler Jay Belong, Jeffrey L. Hogue, and Erik Dos Santos, of Hogue & Belong APC.
P.F. Chang’s China Bistro Inc. is represented by Evan Reed Moses and Alexander M. Chemers of Ogletree Deakins Nash Smoak & Stewart PC.
The federal cases are Pearson v. P.F. Chang’s China Bistro Inc. et al., number 13-cv-02009, and Andrade et al. v. P.F. Chang’s China Bistro Inc. et al., number 12-cv-02724, both in the U.S. District Court for Southern California. The state case is Kidner v. P.F. Chang’s, number RIC1500355 in the Superior Court of California, Riverside County.
–Editing by John Campbell.
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