AUTOZONE, INC. Claims Administrator.
c/o Rust Consulting, Inc.
PO Box 1235
Minneapolis, MN 55440-1235
IMPORTANT LEGAL MATERIALS ENCLOSED
NOTICE OF PENDENCY CLASS ACTION LAWSUIT
AND SETTLEMENT OF CLAIMS
Edgar Martinez, et al. v. AUTOZONE , Inc., Superior Court of the State of California, County of Los Angeles
Case No, BC 311443
THIS NOTICE MAY AFFECT YOUR RIGHTS
PLEASE READ ALL OF IT CARFULLY
TO: ALL PERSONS WHO, AT ANY TIME FROM MARCH 2 , 2000 TO JULY 28 2005, WHERE EMPLOYED BY AUTOZONE IN A NON-EXEMPT RETAIL POSTION IN CALIFORNIA INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, STORE MANAGERS, ASSIST STORE MANAGERS, PART S SALES MAMAGERS, COMERCIAL SPECILIST AUTOZONERS, DIAGNOSTIC SPECILIST, SALES, SENIOR SALES, CUSTOMER SERVICE REPRESTIVES AND DRIVERS.
You are a member of the Settlement Class in this case of this Notice contains important information as to your rights under the proposed settlement. As a qualifying Class Member, you are entitled to receive a cash payment and in return will give upcertian potential claims against AutoZone, Inc, and related parties.
This Notice is not intended to be, and should not be construed as, an expression of any opinion by the Court with the respect to the merits of any of the claims of defenses asserted in the action.
I. What are the critical dates?
A.If you are willing to be bound by the settlement and want to receive your share of the settlement money, the last date due to mail your claim form is September 24, 2005. B.If you wish to be excluded from the settlement because you are not willing to be bound by and do not want to receive any money, the last date to mail your Request for Exclusion is September 29, 2005. C.The last date to mail a written objection to the Settlement is September 29, 2005. D.The hearing on any objections and to give final approval to the Settlement is November 4, 2005. E.The appropriate date payment processing begins if there are no objections, appeals, or court ordered extensions is January 4, 2006; settlement checks shall be mailed by January 24, 2006.
II. Why Should You Read This Notice?
This Notice is given pursuant to an order of the Superior Court of California and for the County of Los Angeles (the “Court”), dated June 23, 2005. The purpose of this Notice is to inform you of the Settlement of a Class Action lawsuit (hereafter referred to as “the Action”) relating alleged violations of California’s wage-and-hour related laws. The Action is entitled Edgar Martinez, et al. v, AutoZone, Inc. The Settlement is subject to final approval by the Court. If this occurs, the Settlement will result, among other things, in (a) the distribution of money to Class Members who remain in the Class and timely submit the required Claim Forms and (b) the dismissal of the pending Action and the release of certain potential or actual claims which Class Members may have against AutoZone, Inc. and/or related parties. The material terms of the Settlement are described below in more detail.
III. What Is The Action About?
Suing for themselves and on behalf of all other persons similarly situated, the Named Plaintiffs in the action are Edgar Martinez, Ronald Carillo and Edwin Cano (“Plaintiffs”). The Defendant in the Action is AutoZone, Inc. (AutoZone). The Action asserts claims against AutoZone for a variety of alleged wage and hour violations, including missed and/or interrupted meal and rest periods, unlawful deductions from bonuses, failure to reimburse for mileage expenses, unpaid wages and related alleged unlawful business practices. AutoZone has denied Plaintiffs’ allegations of wrongdoing. In addition to asserting numerous affirmative defenses, AutoZone asserts that its policies and practices are in compliance with all applicable law and that all employees have been timely and fully paid for all work performed.
IV. What Has Occurred In The Action?
This Action has been pending since March 2004 and has been litigated. Challenges to the legal and factual sufficiency of the Action are contemplated by AutoZone, but have been deferred due to the pendency of this potential Settlement. Following discovery, and factual and legal investigation, the Parties participated in settlement discussions which resulted in the Settlement Agreement to settle the Action on the terms outlined in the Notice. The proposed Settlement Agreement was presented to the Court for Preliminary Approval at a hearing on June 23, 2005. At that time, the Court Preliminarily approved the Settlement Agreement; certified the Class for settlement purposes only; appointed Class Counsel; approved this Class Notice and the procedures for finalizing the settlement approval process; and set November 4, 2005 as the date for a hearing on whether to grant Final Approval of the Settlement.
V. What Are The Terms Of The Settlement?
A. The Settlement provides for AutoZone to pay certain sums to or for the benefit of the Class (the “Settlement Payments”) in return for a release of actual or potential claims by the Class Members (“the Released Claims”). AutoZone shall pay an aggregate sum not to exceed One Million Dollars ($1,000,000.00) (“Maximum Settlement Amount”), to be allocated as follows:
1.Attorneys’ fees of up to Three Hundred Thousand Dollars ($300,000); 2.Attorneys’ cost of up to Seven Thousand Dollars ($7,000); 3.Claims Administration costs of up to Fifty Thousand Dollars ($50,000); 4.Net Settlement Fund is set as at least Six Hundred Thirty-Two Thousand Five Hundred B.The proposed incentive payment to Named Plaintiffs Edgar Martinez, Ronald Carillo and Edwin Cano, subject to the Court’s approval, is up to Three Thousand Five Hundred Dollars ($3,500) each. 1.This payment is made in recognition of the substantial risk taken by the Named Plaintiffs in representing the Class and the benefits conferred on Class Members. The payments are also made to compensate the Names Plaintiffs for the time and the potential financial risks to which they were exposed. The incentive payment also reflects California’s strong public policy in favor of payment of wages due employees and encourages employees to take the steps necessary for the enforcement of California’s comprehensive statutory scheme to ensure the proper payment of wages.
C. Payment to Class Members
1.Each member of the Class shall be eligible for a portion of the Net Settlement Fund which will be calculated by the total number of work weeks validly claimed during the class period from March 2, 2000 through July 28, 2005 by all Class Members who submit timely claims. This total number of work weeks will be divided into the Net Settlement Fund. This will yield the amount to be paid to validly claiming Class Members per work week worked during the class period. Class Members who file valid and timely claims will be paid settlement awards based on the number of weeks they worked during the class period as calculated. When calculating work weeks, any work week wherein the Class Member performed no work due to any time-off from work (including vacation, sick leave, leave of absence, or other time-off) will not be counted toward that particular Class Member’s total number of work weeks. The Class Members will be issued one check each and no taxes will be withheld. An IRS Form 1099 will be issued to each Class Member reflecting the payment. VI. What Are The Released Claims?
In return for the respective Settlement Payments, Class Members will be releasing AutoZone and its related parties from a range of claims that Class Members may have pertaining to their employment. In particular, each Class Member will be releasing all claims, debts, liabilities, demands, obligations, guarantees, costs, expenses, attorneys’ fees, damages, action or causes of action for, or which relate to, the nonpayment of wages under the Fair Labor Standards Act, the California Labor Code and any other applicable federal, state or local law, penalties under the California Labor Code (Including, but not limited to, penalties under Labor Code sections 201, 202, 203, 226, 226.7, 558, 2699 and under Wage Orders 4 and 7 of the Industrial Welfare Commission), claims for missed meal and rest periods, unlawful deductions from any bonus plans, mileage and expense reimbursement, and any other claims alleged in this case, including without limitation all claims for restitution and other equitable relief, liquidated damages, punitive damages, waiting time penalties, penalties and any nature whatsoever, retirement or deferred compensation benefits claimed on account of unpaid overtime, attorneys’ fees and costs from March 2, 2000 up to and including July 28, 2005, arising from employment by AutoZone within California. Each Class Member must also agree that he or she will not institute, nor accept payment for unpaid wages or back pay, meal and rest period penalties, liquidated damages, punitive damages, penalties of any nature, attorneys’ fees and costs, or any other relief from any other suit, class, or collective action, administrative claim or other claim of any sort or nature whatsoever against AutoZone, for any period from March 1, 1000 up to and including July 28, 2005, relating to the Claims being settled and claims based on the same operative facts as the claims being settled, for the time period they were employed by AutoZone during the class period.
VII. Why Is Class Counsel Recommending This Settlement?
Relative to the risks and costs of continuing the litigation, Class Counsel believes this Settlement provides a favorable recovery which is in the best interests of the Class. Class Counsel’s evaluation in this regard is based on the investigation and discovery they have undertaken; and upon their experience prosecuting similar cases against national retailers with operations in California.
Absent settlement, Plaintiff’s would have to secure Class certification on the claims set forth in the Action over the strenuous opposition of AutoZone. Additionally, at trial, Plaintiffs would have the burden of proof to establish liability and the amount of damages. In Class Counsel’s judgment, were this case to proceed, there is a significant risk of an adverse result both at the certification stage and at trial in these respects. The case involves many unresolved factual and legal issues, some of which could be decided against Plaintiffs at or before trial, and which would jeopardize Plaintiffs’ ability to certify a Class or to obtain a favorable judgment and preserve it on appeal.
In addition, settling the case now has the further advantage of avoiding the very substantial additional costs and delay that further litigation would involve. AutoZone has made it clear that it would seek appellate review before trial of any grant of Class certification outside the settlement context, and that it would appeal any final adverse result at trial. This absent settlement, it is likely to be years before the litigation ends and Class Members receive a monetary recovery, if any. Given the costs involved in further litigation and the time-value of money, even if a favorable judgment were obtained at trial, it could well produce less net recovery to the Class Members than the present settlement.
VIII. What Are The Procedures For Participating In The Settlement?
If you fall within the description of the persons to whom this Class Notice is directed and you want to participate in the Settlement and receive a share of the settlement proceeds, you must submit a Claim Form.
All Class Members who timely return a Claim Form will be bound by the Settlement. As a Class Member, you may enter a legal appearance individually or through your own counsel at you own expense. Otherwise, Class Counsel will represent your rights at no separate expense to you.
A.Submission of a Claim Form.
To receive a share of the settlement proceeds, you must complete and sign the Claim Form included with this Class Notice and mail it by First-Class or Equivalent mail to the Claims Administrator at P.O. Box 1235, Minneapolis, MN 55440-1235 with a postmark not later than September 29, 2005.
IX. What If You Do Not Wish To Participate In The Settlement?
If you do not fall within the description of persons to whom this Class Notice is directed on Page One, you are not a member of the Class and will not participate in the Settlement despite your receipt of this Class Notice. You need do nothing further.
If you wish to be excluded from the Settlement, you must complete and sign the Request For Exclusion Form included with this Class Notice and mail it by first-class or equivalent mail to the Claims Administrator at P.O. Box 1235, Minneapolis, MN 55440-1235, with a postmark of not later than September 29, 2005.
X. What If You Do Nothing?
If you do not take any action – that is, if you decline to submit a Claim Form, and decline to submit a Request for Exclusion form, or fail to make a written objection as set forth in Section XI below – you will not be entitled to a share of the settlement monies and you will waive any objections to the Settlement Agreement. However, you will be bound by the terms of the Agreement, even though you will not receive any money.
XI. Final Hearing:
A final hearing will be held on November 4, 2005 at 8:30 a.m. before the Honorable Judge Edward A. Ferns in Department 69 at the Los Angeles Country Superior Court, 111 North Hill Street, Los Angeles, California 90012 (the “Final Hearing”) to determine whether the settlement is fair, reasonable and adequate. The court will also be asked to approve Class Counsel’s request for attorneys’ fees, reimbursement of costs and Names Plaintiffs’ enhancement awards. The Final Hearing will conclude the case by dismissal and permit the distribution of money as set-out above.
Subject to the conditions set forth below, any member of the Class may appear and be heard at the Final Hearing, including for the purpose of objecting to the proposed settlement. However, no Class Member wishing to object to the Settlement will be heard, unless his or her objection or opposition is made in writing and is filed with the Court no later than September 29, 2005, along with proof of service by mail of copies to the following counsel:
Michael A. Gould Jeremy A. Roth Gould & Associates Littler Mendelson, P.C. 12832 Valley View Street 701 B Street Garden Grove, CA 92845 San Diego, CA 92101 (714) 379-6240 (619) 232-0441
Unless otherwise ordered by the Court, any Class Member who does not make his or her objection or opposition in the manner provided shall be deemed to have waived all objections and opposition to the fairness, reasonableness and adequacy of the proposed settlement, the distribution of Settlement payments to and among Class Members, the fee and expense application, and the incentive payment application, and will have no other chance to object or oppose any of these items.
The Court may suspend or reschedule the Final Hearing without further notice to the Class.
XII. Dismissal, Releases and Distribution of Settlement Shares.
If the Settlement is approved by the Court and not otherwise terminated, the Court will dismiss the Action with prejudice, and bar and permanently enjoin the named Plaintiffs and each Class Member from prosecuting the Released Claims. As a result, once the judgment of Court in accordance with this Settlement has become final (the “Final Effective Date”), each of the Class Members and their legal successors-in-interest shall be deemed to forever given up any Released Claims against AutoZone and the other released parties.
The payment of Settlement proceeds to each Class Member shall be made as approved by the Court as promptly as possible following the Final Effective Date of the Settlement.
XIII. Where Can I Find Additional Information?
This Class Notice contains only a summary of the Action of terms of the proposed Settlement. For more detail, the pleadings in the Action and the full Settlement Agreement are available for inspection by you or your representative during regular business hours at the Office of the Clerk of the Superior Court, 111 North Hill Street, Los Angeles, California 90012.
Inquiries regarding the Action or this Settlement would be addressed to: Michael A. Gould Gould & Associates
12832 Valley View Street
Suite 211 Garden Grove, CA 92845 (714) 379-6240
PLEASE DO NOT CONTACT THE COURT REGARDING THIS NOTICE
By Order of The Honorable Edward A. Ferns Judge of the Superior Court
PROOF OF CLAIM
Edgar Martinez, et al. v. AutoZone, Inc., Superior Court of the State of California, County of Los Angeles
Case No. BC 311443
IN ORDER FOR YOU CLAIM TO BE VALID, YOU MUST COMPLETE, SIGN UNDER PENALTY OF PERJURY, AND MAIL THIS DOCUMENT BY U.S. MAIL WITH A POSTMARK DATED NO LATER THAN SEPTEMBER 29, 2005 TO:
AUTOZONE, INC. CLAIMS Administrator
Rust Consulting, Inc.
PO Box 1235
Minneapolis, MN 54440-1235
A. CLAIMANT IDENTIFICATION: Please Make any Name/Address Corrections Below:
__________________________________________ __________________________________________ __________________________________________ _________-______-__________________________ (_______) ________-_______________(The Internal Revenue Service requires this information.
Telephone Number Failure to Provide it will result in the delay of your payment.)
B. EMPLOYMENT INFORMATION:
1. Were you employed by AutoZone. Inc., in California between March 2, 2000 to
July 28, 2005 in the position of Store Manager, Assistant Store Manager, Parts ____YES ______NO
Sales Manager, Commercial Specialist, Commercial AutoZoner, Diagnostic
Specialist, Sales, Senior Sales, Customer Service Representative and/or Driver?
2. AutoZone, Inc.’s records indicate that you were employed as follows between
March 2, 2000 and July 28, 2005: Start Date: _______ - End Date: _________ a. Do you agree with these dates? _____YES ______NO
3. AutoZone, Inc.’s records further indicates that you worked the following number
of weeks between March 2, 2000 and July 28, 2005, excluding weeks in which
you did not perform any work due to time-off from work (i.e., vacation, sick leave,
leave of absence and/or other time off):_____________________
a. Do you agree with this number of weeks? ______YES _____NO
4. If you answered “no,” to questions numbers 1,2 and/or 3, please provide documentation to support your belief as
to your position, dates of employment, and/or your belief as to the number of work weeks between March 2,
2000 and July 28, 2005 (excluding weeks in which you did not perform any work due to time-off). Write all
facts in the space provided below (attach additional pages if you need more space). Please Note: Failure to
provide this information may result in the rejection of your dispute.
5. Do you believe you should be paid under the terms of the settlement and is it your decision to accept this settlement?
Accept this settlement? _____YES _____NO
C. SUBMISSION TO JURISDICTION OF COURT, AGREEMENT WITH SETTLEMENT, ETC.
I have received the Notice of Pendency of Class Action Lawsuit and Settlement of Claims. I submit this Proof of Claim under the terms of the Proposed Settlement described in the Notice. I also submit to the jurisdiction of the Los Angeles County Superior Court with respect to my claim as a Class Member and for purposes of enforcing the release of claims stated in the Settlement Agreement. The full and precise terms of the Proposed Settlement are contained in the Joint Stipulation of Settlement and Release between Plaintiffs and Defendant as filed with the Court. I further acknowledge that I am bound by the terms of any Court judgment that may be entered in this Class Action. I agree I furnish additional information to support my claim if required to do so.
D. RELEASE OF CLAIMS
Upon receipt of my share of the Settlement Amount, I hereby fully release and discharge Defendant AutoZone, Inc., its present and former parent companies, owners, subsidiaries, related or affiliated companies, shareholders, officers, directors, employees, agents, attorneys, insurers, successors and assigns, and any individual or entity which could be jointly liable with Defendant or any of them, from any and all claims, debts, liabilities, demands, obligations, guarantees, costs, expenses, attorneys’ fees, damages, action or causes of action for, or which relate to, the nonpayment of wages under the Fair Labor Standards Act, the California Labor Code and any other applicable federal, state, or local law, penalties under the California Labor Code (including, but not limited to, penalties under Labor Code Sections 201, 202, 203,226.7, 558,2699 and under Wage Orders 4 and 7 of the Industrial Welfare Commission), claims for missed meal and rest periods, unlawful deductions from any bonus plans, mileage and expense reimbursement, and any other claims alleged in this case, including without limitation all claims for restitution and other equitable relief, liquidated damages, punitive damages, waiting time penalties, penalties of any nature whatsoever, retirement or deferred compensation benefits claimed on account of unpaid overtime, attorneys’ fees and costs or any other relief from any other suit, class or collective action, administrative claim or other claim of any sort or nature whatsoever against AutoZone, for any period from March 2, 2000 up to and including July 28, 2005, relating to the Claims being settled herein and claims based on the same operative facts as the claims being settle herein, for the time period I was employed by AutoZone during the class period.
E. I verify that I have not assigned or purported to assign any of the claims described in Paragraph D above.
F. NO RETALIATION
AutoZone, Inc. will not retaliate against any person who submits a Proof of Claim in connection with this Settlement.
G. DECLARATION UNDER PENALTY OF PERJURY
I declare under penalty of perjury under the laws of the State of California that the foregoing information is true and accurate. Executed this ________day of __________, __________, at _________________, _____________.
[month] [year] [city] [state] ___________________________________________________________
Last First Middle
Reminder check list:
1.Sign and date directly above. 2.Keep a copy for your records. 3.Send Proof of claim via U.S. Mail postmarked no later than September 29, 2005, to the address listed on Page 1 of this Claim Form. AUTOZONE, INC. CLAIMS Administrator C/O Rust Consulting, Inc. Minneapolis, MN 54440-1235