There is no resolution yet in The Wendy Williams Show case and the game changing Black Swan case against Fox Searchlight that started it all still hasn’t heard from the Second Circuit but at least one interns lawsuit is now over. Despite a flurry of last minute objections from some potential class members, the $6.4 million settlement between NBCUniversal and former interns has gotten the fial approval of the court.
“The Court has concluded that the Settlement, as set forth in the Stipulation and Settlement Agreement executed by the parties, is fair, reasonable, and adequate under state and federal laws, including the Fair Labor Standards Act,” said U.S. Magistrate Judge Richard Ellis last week dismissing the case formally (read it here). Originally filed by former Saturday Night Live intern Monet Eliastam and former MSNBC intern Jesse Moore in July 2013, a deal between the parties in the class action seeking case was reached last fall. “The Court finds that the uncertainty and delay of further litigation strongly supports the reasonableness and adequacy of the Settlement Amount.”
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This is an end to one interns lawsuit that at one point looked as if it would come much sooner and then perhaps not for a very long time. Back in March, ex-NBCU intern Dina Agusta filed objections that the settlement by the Comcast-owned company and law firm Outten & Golden was “unfair and inadequate.” That came after the NYC-based Judge Ellis checked off preliminary approval on the settlement on December 15 and had scheduled a May 4 hearing for the final approval. Other plaintiffs soon emerged who were unhappy with the about $500 they were being offered in the settlement, which covers those who interned at NBCU starting on July 3, 2007, in NY State and on February 10, 2010, in California.
For some, the offered sum stung all the more because Eliastam was looking to receive $10,000 and intern specializing lawyers Outten & Golden get paid about $1.4 million. And that’s kind of what is going to happen after all. “Counsel for objector Dina Agusta appeared at the Final Fairness Hearing held on May 4, 2015, but declined to present any evidence in opposition and asked to withdraw his objection,” said the court in handwritten notes on the May 27 approval order. With several other plaintiffs getting payouts of $5,000 and $2,000, the ex-SNL intern will still get $10,000 and the law firm will take home $1.184 million.
It should be pointed out that Outten & Golden represented the former ICM Partners interns who settled their dispute with the agency in mediation in December. They also represented those Black Swan interns in their class action over duties performed on the 2010 Darren Aronofsky movie. Like Fox Searchlight, they are waiting to see what the Second Circuit panel says of the studio’s appeal of the decision granting summary judgment to interns who worked on the pic. The panel heard arguments in the appeal back in February.
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