Over a year and a half after a quartet of production assistants launched a class action lawsuit against Paramount Pictures, Leonardo DiCaprio’s Appian Way, Red Granite Pictures and others over not being paid minimum wage and overtime, everyone today is asking a federal judge to sign off on the six-figure settlement they’ve reached.
In case you’ve not heard, this was the lawsuit where the P.A.’s claimed in their initial January 21, 2016 filing that “many of the plaintiffs are forced to urinate and defecate into bottles and buckets in their vehicles.” Working on flicks like The Wolf Of Wall Street, the NYC-based P.A.’s primary duty was, as the January 2016 jury demanding complaint said, “secure sets, lots and streets” for the movies they were working on.
Needless to say, this risked becoming a messy business for the studio and the production companies if it went to trial and revealed some of the dirty side of the industry.
On Friday, after months of negotiations and preliminary proposals, the plaintiffs submitted Unopposed Motion for Final Approval of the Class and Collective Action Settlement that would see $700,000 put into a fund by Paramount and Red Granite.
That’s $700,000 that lawyers at Valli Kane & Vagnini LLP will get $233,333.33 of if there are no 11th hour objections and U.S. Magistrate Judge James Francis gives the settlement the green light after a September 19 “fairness hearing.”
In an accompanying memorandum of law, the attorneys make a point of saying that “Class Counsel contends that this request for one-third (1/3) of the Settlement Amount for attorneys’ fees, costs and expenses is reasonable and is within the accepted range typically awarded in contingency fee common fund and FLSA cases” (read it here). Valli Kane & Vagnini LLP also notes “not a single objection was received to Class Counsel’s request for attorneys’ fees, costs and expenses.”
Additionally, settlement administrators Kurtzman, Carson Consultants, LLC will be paid just under $22,000 to handle the day-to-day stuff once the deal is given formal approval.
With what’s left, the settlement is to cover the approximately 393 class members “who provided parking production assistant services” on any production from Paramount and the other defendants.
If given final approval by the NYC based judge, the settlement ensures that not one of the claimants will receive anything less than $50 from the agreement. Initial plaintiffs Christian Pellot, Joselyn Wint, Ali Muhammed and Johnathan Tucker will get $2,500 each and mediation participants Corey Leach, Priamo Fermin and Ray Delgadillo will get $1,000 each.
“The Settlement confers substantial benefits on the Settlement Class Members without the risk and uncertainty of litigation,” states the proposed judgment and final approval order that was submitted today to Judge Francis (read it here). “Settlement Class Members are recovering the equivalent of 100% of their alleged overtime damages and substantial relief on their other claims, after attorney fees, service awards, claims administration,” it goes on to say.
Paramount and Red Granite, who have other on-going legal issues with the Department of Justice over the alleged ill-gotten finances via Malaysia, are represented by Seth Pierce of L.A’s Mitchell, Silberberg & Knupp LLP.