Untited States District Court Judge Saundra B. Armstrong (Northern District of California) granted in part and denied in part the unopposed motion of plaintiffs for an award of incentive payments and attorney's fees. In re Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. Wage and Hour Litigation, 2011 WL 31266 (N.D.Cal. Jan. 05, 2011). Counsel requested 33.3% of the maximum settlement amount of $86 million. The Court agreed that a departure from the 25% benchmark in the Ninth Circuit was appropriate but not to that degree. The Court awarded a fee equal to 27% of the maximum settlement amount.
On the requested enhancement awards, the Court said:
Upon review of the record in this case, the Court finds that Plaintiffs are entitled to a reasonable incentive payment. However, the Court finds the requested award of $25,000 per named Plaintiff to be excessive, in view of the nature of their assistance in this case. First, the Court notes that the named Plaintiffs have not indicated in their declarations the total number of hours they spent on this litigation. Rather, they generally explain that they were deposed, responded to written discovery, and assisted and met with counsel. Second, in arguing that $25,000 is an appropriate award, Plaintiffs cite to cases that are clearly distinguishable. For instance, in Brotherton v. Cleveland, 141 F.Supp.2d 907 (S.D.Ohio 2001), the court awarded $50,000 to a single named plaintiff, finding that “she has spent approximately 800 hours working on this litigation.” Id. at 914. By contrast, here, there is no evidence that the named Plaintiffs' involvement reached anywhere near this level.
Slip op., at 4. The Court awarded $5,000 to each plaintiff.