Rogers et al. v. Recovery Centers of King County
In December 2014, along with The Hanley Law Firm, PLLC, Rekhi & Wolk, P.S. filed a class action in King County Superior Court on behalf of employees who were employed by Recovery Centers of King County (“RCKC”) from December 2011. The lawsuit is known as Rogers, et al. v. Recovery Centers of King County, King Co. Case No. 14-2-32248-8 SEA.
What is the Lawsuit About?
Plaintiffs Lisa Rogers, Tracy Dunn, Jazmin Carter-Allen, Gerald Calloway and Karis Bjerke claim RCKC violated Washington State law by failing to provide or pay employees for all the work they performed, including pay for straight time, overtime, rest breaks to which they were entitled, and work performed during meal breaks for which they were not paid, and by failing to meet its timekeeping and/or recordkeeping requirements. RCKC denies Plaintiffs’ claims.
In May 2015, RCKC filed a petition for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. By filing the petition, the King County case was automatically stayed. In August 2015, the Bankruptcy Judge ordered that the automatic stay be lifted so that the King County Judge could determine whether or not to certify the proposed class.
On March 22, 2016, Judge Bradshaw certified the proposed class which includes “all employees who worked for Recovery Centers of King County at any time from December 1, 2011 through the date of final disposition of this action.”
Excluded from the Class are RCKC any entity in which RCKC has a controlling interest or which has a controlling interest in RCKC, RCKC’s current and former CEO(s), CFO(s), and Executive Director(s), and RCKC’s legal representatives, assignees, and successors. Also excluded from the Class are the Judge to whom the case is assigned and any member of the Judge’s immediate family.
See the Judge’s March 22, 2016 Order here: 2016.3.22 ORDER Granting Plaintiffs’ Motion for Class Certification
Before obtaining certification, Plaintiff Lisa Rogers amended her complaint by adding other named Plaintiffs: Karis Bjerke, Jazmin Carter, Tracy Dunn, and Gerald Calloway. These former employees, along with Ms. Rogers, are the class representatives, which means they have sued RCKC on behalf of the class for the specific claims set forth in the amended complaint. The lawyers at Rekhi & Wolk, P.S. and The Hanley Law Firm, PLLC are class counsel, which means that they are acting as legal counsel on behalf of the class claims.
Recently, RCKC and the Class Representatives Agreed to Settle the Lawsuit on behalf of the Class. See the Settlement Agreement here: 2016.8.12 Signed RCKC Settlement
The Superior Court has Preliminarily Approved the Settlement Agreement. See the Judge’s September 7, 2016 Order here: 2016.9.7 ORDER Granting Motion for Preliminary Approval for Class Action Settlement
However, the Agreement Still Needs to be Finally Approved by the Superior Court. The Superior Court will hold a hearing on November 4, 2016 before finally approving the Settlement Agreement. The Bankruptcy Court will also need to approve disbursements from the Estate of RCKC before any payments will be made.
BELOW IS IMPORTANT INFORMATION AND DOCUMENTATION FOR ALL EMPLOYEES OF RCKC EMPLOYED FROM DECEMBER 1, 2011 TO THE PRESENT
To settle this action, pursuant to approval by the Superior Court and a Bankruptcy Court, the Estate of Defendant Recovery Centers of King County (“RCKC” or “Defendant”) will pay a total of the greater of either (1) the funds which remain in Defendant’s possession after payment of all other allowed claims in the bankruptcy case, or (2) $1,950,000.
Class Members must fill out and return a Claim Form no later than October 31, 2016, in order to receive money from the settlement. See a Copy of the Claim Form here: Claim Form
See a copy of the Notice here: Notice
Below is information contained in the Notice.
Why is there a settlement?
The Court did not decide in favor of Plaintiffs or RCKC. Instead, both sides agreed to a settlement after extensive litigation. This allows the parties to avoid the risks and costs of a trial and entitles the Class Members to receive compensation without undue delay. Plaintiffs and their attorneys (“Class Counsel”) think the settlement is fair, reasonable, adequate, and in the best interests of the Class Members.
What claims are resolved by the settlement?
The settlement will resolve all claims that Class Members could have brought against RCKC regarding RCKC’s alleged failure to provide or pay employees for the work they performed, as set forth above, during the period from December 10, 2011 to April 30, 2015.
What are the basic terms of the settlement?
Subject to Court approval, the essential terms of the settlement are as follows:
Settlement Payments: The estate of RCKC will make the following payments, which total the greater of (1) the funds which remain in Defendant’s possession after payment of all other allowed claims in the bankruptcy case, or (2) $1,950,000. As part of the settlement: (a) a payment to each named Plaintiff in an amount up to $5000 (for a total of $20,000) to compensate Plaintiffs for their services in representing the Class; (b) a payment of up to $20,000 for settlement administration costs; (c) a payment of approximately $487,500 to Class Counsel for their attorneys’ fees; (d) a payment of approximately $17,000 to reimburse Class Counsel for the litigation expenses they have incurred since November 2014 in representing Plaintiffs and Class Members; and (e) a payment of approximately $1,405,500 (or more, if the remaining funds in the estate after the other allowed claims to be paid out is greater than $1,950,000) to the Class (the “Class Fund”), which will be distributed to those Class Members who submit valid and timely Claim Forms.
Distribution of Settlement Fund: Each Class Member who submits a valid and timely Claim Form will receive a proportional share of the Class Fund. Those shares will be based on RCKC’s timekeeping and payroll records.
Tax Treatment of Settlement Payments: Fifty percent (50%) of each award to a Class Member will be treated as wages and subject to normal payroll tax withholdings and payments. The other fifty percent (50%) of each award to a Class Member will be treated as prejudgment interest/exemplary damages on which there will be no tax withholding. Please consult an accountant regarding the taxes you may owe if you receive money from the settlement.
Class Counsel’s Fees and Expenses: The settlement provides a process for the King County Superior Court to review and approve a payment out of the gross settlement amount to Class Counsel for the attorneys’ fees they have incurred in relation to the lawsuit. Class Counsel is seeking payment of 25% of the gross amount or approximately $487,500 for their fees. Subject to approval by the King County Superior Court, Class Counsel will also be reimbursed for the expenses that they have incurred in representing Plaintiffs and the Class. Class Counsel is seeking a payment of approximately $17,000 to reimburse them for these costs. These payments are separate from and in addition to the Class Fund payment. Class Counsel have been working on this case since November 2014 but have not yet received anything for their efforts.
Class Representative Service Award: The settlement provides for service awards to the Plaintiffs and Class Representatives, Lisa Rogers, Tracy Dunn, Jazmin Carter-Allen, Gerald Calloway and Karis Bjerke, in the amount of up to $5000 each or $20,000 total.
Release of Claims: Upon final approval by the Court, Class Members will release Defendant from all claims brought against Defendant in this lawsuit. The release specifically includes any claims for unpaid wages, exemplary damages, interest, fees, costs, attorneys’ fees and all other claims and allegations that were made in the lawsuit or could have been made in the lawsuit, including all claims under federal, state, or local laws pertaining to unpaid wages, breach of contract, failure to comply with any timekeeping or recordkeeping requirements, failure to allow rest and meal periods that comply with WAC 296-126-092, violations of the Workers Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act, and including exemplary damages, or any assertion of rights relating to any of the foregoing. For the full language of the release, and to review the entire settlement agreement please see above.
Dismissal of Action: Upon Final Approval the Court will enter a Judgment of Dismissal of the Lawsuit with prejudice but may retain jurisdiction to enforce the terms of the settlement. In addition, the Bankruptcy Court will need to approve the settlement.
How can I get a payment?
To get a payment, you must complete and return a Claim Form to the following address:
Rogers v. RCKC Claims Administrator
Post Office Box 1638
Tallahassee, FL 32302-1638
A Claim Form is attached to the Notice sent out to Class Members. Read the instructions carefully, fill out the Claim Form, sign it, and mail it to the address above postmarked by October 31, 2016. A copy of the Claim Form is available above. Please contact Rekhi & Wolk if you are a Class Member but have not obtained a Claim Form.
When will I get my payment?
As noted above, the only way to get money from the settlement is to complete and return a timely Claim Form. The Superior Court will hold a hearing on November 4, 2016 to decide whether to approve the settlement. If the Court approves the settlement, the parties will then have to wait to see whether there is an appeal. This will take at least 30 days and, if there is an appeal, can take up to a year or more to resolve. In the event of an appeal, information regarding its progress will be posted here. If there is no appeal, payments will then need to be approved by the Bankruptcy Court. We do not know when the Bankruptcy Court will approve the amount to be paid to Class Members arising from the settlement. Please be patient.
Do I have a lawyer in this case?
The Superior Court has decided that lawyers from Rekhi & Wolk, P.S. and The Hanley Law Firm, PLLC are qualified to represent you and all Class Members. Together the lawyers are called “Class Counsel.” You will not be charged for these lawyers. If you want your own lawyer, you may hire one at your own expense.
If I don’t like the settlement how do I tell the Court?
If you are a Class Member and you do not like the settlement, you can object. If you object, you must do so in writing and you must state the reasons why you think the Court should reject the settlement. The Superior Court will consider your views. If you send a letter, be sure to include the following information: your name, address, and telephone number; the name of the case: Rogers, et al. v. Recovery Centers of King County, King County Superior Court Civil Case No. 14-2-32248-8 SEA; the reasons you object to the settlement; and your signature. You must mail a copy of the objection letter postmarked by October 15, 2016 to Rekhi & Wolk, P.S., 1411 4th Ave., #1101, Seattle, WA 98101.
When and where will the Court decide whether to approve the settlement?
The Court will hold a Fairness Hearing at 10:00 a.m. on November 4 2016, at the King County Superior Court, 516 Third Avenue, Seattle, Washington, 98104, in Courtroom W-965 of Judge Timothy Bradshaw. At this hearing, the Court will consider whether the settlement is fair, reasonable, and adequate. If there are objections, the Court will consider them. You do not have to come to the hearing.
What happens if I do nothing at all?
If you do not submit a Claim Form postmarked by October 31, 2016, you will NOT receive a share of the settlement but you will release all claims against Defendant.
If you would like more information, please contact the lawyers at Rekhi & Wolk, P.S.