A medical clinic and workers who say it failed to pay them overtime secured final approval for their $875,000 settlement, but a federal judge awarded the workers’ lawyers a lower fee amount than requested.
The NMCI Medical Clinic Inc. medical assistants, physician assistants, and nurse practitioners in the state-law class and Fair Labor Standards Act collective will receive approximately $5,600 on average, with at least one worker recovering nearly $44,000, the US District Court for the Northern District of California said.
That’s a “significant payout, particularly considering the scale of the alleged harm,” Judge Beth Labson Freeman said Monday.
The workers say they had to perform off-the-clock work, including medical charting and other work-related paperwork, costing them regular and overtime pay for those hours. They accuse NMCI of claiming they were exempt from federal and California overtime protections and discouraging or prohibiting them from logging overtime hours.
The deal allocates $20,000 for the FLSA claims and another $20,000 for claims under California’s Private Attorneys General Act. PAGA allows workers to recover on behalf of the state for violations, with 75% of the funds stemming from those claims going to a California labor agency and the remainder distributed to aggrieved employees.
Only one worker requested exclusion from the settlement class, which includes approximately 100 people, and none objected to the deal, Freeman’s order said.
Class counsel Sommers Schwartz PC requested $262,500—30% of the settlement’s value—in attorneys’ fees. But the lodestar multiplier the firm used is “too high for a fairly routine” case, Freeman said, noting that the attorneys achieved “excellent results” for the workers.
Instead, an award of $236,250 is “reasonable and in line with rates approved in this District for attorneys of similar skill and experience,” according to the order. Freeman approved the firm’s request for more than $14,000 more as reimbursement for litigation costs.
Fisher & Phillips LLP represents NMCI.
The case is Kulik v. NMCI Med. Clinic Inc, 2023 BL 80994, N.D. Cal., No. 5:21-cv-03495, final settlement approval 3/13/23.
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