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CASE RESULTS

$5 Million Settlement Reached in Sex Harassment Case on Behalf of Nine Women

The Spencer Law Firm reached as $5 Million settlement on behalf of nine women who were subjected to unwanted hugging and kissing by the general manager of a popular Orange County restaurant. The case was filed in 2014. However, the restaurant declared bankruptcy in 2015 on the eve of trial. The Spencer Law firm then pursued claims against the individual and related entities alleged to be the equitable owners and alter egos of the bankrupt restaurant. The Spencer Law Firm successfully defeated a Motion for Summary Judgment on the alter ego claims and the case proceeded to trial. The alter ego case was tried in January of 2018 before the Honorable William Claster in Orange County Superior Court, who found the individual entities were the equitable owners and alter egos of the restaurant. The case settled after the alter ego verdict.

LENSCRAFTERS CLASS ACTION

Meal & Rest Breaks/Overtime
$10,000,000 recovered for employees of Lenscrafters. California Employees of Lenscrafters retained The Spencer Law Firm to represent them in a class action against Lenscrafters alleging a statewide practice of failing to provide meal and rest breaks and pay overtime compensation to its California employees. The case was aggressively litigated and involved a successful motion to remand the case from Federal Court to State Court and a published opinion by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Babasa v. Lenscrafters (9th Cir. 2007) 498 F.3d 972. The case was settled for $10 Million dollars.

MAJOR RETAILER EMPLOYEE MISCLASSIFICATION

Unpaid Overtime/Misclassification
$1,700,000 recovered for employees of a major national retailer. The Spencer Law Firm was hired to represent 60 Area Sales Managers of a major national retailer who were mis-classified as overtime exempt and were denied overtime compensation. The case settled for $1.7 Million.

SBC DSL CLASS ACTION

False Advertising
$65,000,000 recovered for Pacific Bell/SBC DSL customers When Pacific Bell/SBC started offering DSL internet service in California it engaged is an aggressive advertising campaign regarding the speed of its internet connection. The Spencer Law Firm was retained by a consumer who did not receive the advertised internet speeds to prosecute a class action against Pacific Bell/SBC. The case was consolidated into the In Re SBC litigation. Attorney Jeffrey Spencer of the Spencer Law Firm was on the Steering Committee, and Settlement Committee and along with other members of the settlement committee successfully negotiated the $65,000,000 settlement on behalf of the AT&T customers.

GNC CLASS ACTION

Meal Rest Breaks/Overtime
$4,600,000 recovered for employees of GNC The Spencer Law Firm was retained by GNC employees to prosecute a class action against GNC to recover unpaid overtime compensation and meal and rest period compensation. The case was settled for $4.6 Million dollars with some class members receiving in excess of $15,000. As the result of the lawsuit GNC reclassified Store Managers and Senior Store Managers as non-exempt and entitled to overtime compensation.

REALNETWORKS CLASS ACTION

Internet Spying / Internet Privacy Violations
$20,000,000 recovered for customers of RealNetworks. A RealNetworks customer hired The Spencer Law Firm to file the first class action lawsuit in the nation against RealNetworks for secretly attaching spyware to its RealJukebox software and assigning a GUID (Globally Unique Identifier) to its customers which could be matched to the customers personal information. The plaintiffs contended the secret spyware recorded all of the customers usage history and secretly transmitted it back to RealNetworks. If the consumer were to use RealJukebox offline, as soon as the consumer went back on line the information would be transmitted to RealNetworks. The plaintiffs contended the GUID, permitted RealNetworks to match the usage history to the consumer and create a profile of the user. After extensive litigation The Spencer Law Firm negotiated a settlement worth $20 Million for the RealNetworks customers.

EZ LUBE CLASS ACTION

Meal & Rest Breaks/Overtime
$3,000,000 recovered for employees of EZ Lube Employees of EZ Lube employed in non-salary positions hired The Spencer Law Firm to represent them in a class action against EZ Lube to force it to allow them to take meal and rest breaks, pay meal and rest period compensation and to pay for off the clock work. The case was settled for $3 Million dollars.

NATIONAL RETAILER EMPLOYEE MISCLASSIFCATION

Unpaid Overtime/Misclassification
$324,976 recovered for employees of a major national retailer. The Spencer Law Firm was hired to represent 9 Area Sales Managers of a major national retailer who were mis-classified as overtime exempt and were denied overtime compensation. The case settled for $324,976.

STAMPS.COM CLASS ACTION

Unfair Business Practices
$14,000,000 recovered for customers of Stamps.com The Spencer Law Firm was hired by customers of Stamps.com to prosecute claims that they were not provided an effective means of closing their accounts and whose final bills were not pro-rated when they terminated the service. The case settled for $14 Million and caused Stamps.com to significantly modify its business practices to better protect its customers.

CLASS ACTION involving a major national bank

Meal and Rest Breaks and unpaid wages
$2,000,000. Hourly employees of a major national bank hired the Spencer Law Firm to represent them in a class action to recover unpaid meal and rest period compensation and unpaid wages. The case was extensively litigated over several years. After the Court granted a contested Motion for Class Certification the Spencer Law Firm negotiated a $2,000,000 settlement on behalf of the employees.

EVERGREEN ROYALE CLASS ACTION

Tenant Rights
$2,300,000. The Spencer Law Firm was hired by tenants of a residence motel to prosecute claims that it violated California Civil Code 1940.1 by requiring the tenants to leave by the 28th day of occupancy and return the next day in order to deprive the tenants of their rights as long term tenants. The Spencer Law Firm obtained a $2,300,000 settlement on behalf of the tenants.

HEALTH STORE RETAILER EMPLOYEE MISCLASSIFICATION

Unpaid Overtime/Meal & Rest Period Violations
$220,500 recovered for employees of a major national retailer. The Spencer Law Firm was hired to represent 9 Store Managers and Assistant Managers of a major national retailer of vitamins and health care products who were mis-classified as overtime exempt and were denied overtime compensation and meal and rest period compensation. The case settled for $220,500.

AUREATE CLASS ACTION

Internet Privacy
$2,000,000 judgment obtained for customers of Aureate Media Inc. Customers of Aureate Media Inc. hired the Spencer Law Firm to file a class action to stop Aureate Media's practice of secretly embedding spyware in its shareware programs that allowed it to track consumers’ internet usage without their authorization and to recover damages. The Spencer Law Firm successfully obtained a $2,000,000 judgment against Aureate Media Inc.

CLASS ACTION involving major retailer of health products

Meal and Rest Breaks 
$1,500,000 recovered for employees of a major retailer of health products. Employees hired the Spencer Law Firm to represent them in a class action to recover unpaid meal and rest period compensation. The case was extensively litigated over several years. The case settled for $1,500,000.

3M Class Action

Meal Breaks
$980,000 recovered for employees of 3M Hourly workers at 3M Company's Ontario Warehouse hired The Spencer Law Firm to recover unpaid meal and rest period compensation. The case alleged that 3M systematically required the employees to work more than 5 hours before they were provided meal periods. The case settled for $980,000 and 3M changed its meal period practices so that the employees received timely meal periods.

UNITED HEALTH GROUP CLASS ACTION

Identity Theft
$750,000 recovered for University of California Irvine (UCI) Students The Spencer Law Firm represented UCI graduate students in a class action against United Health Group Inc. the provider of their graduate student health insurance policies for damages arising out of the theft of their confidential information by an employee of United Health Group Inc. The case was settled for $750,000.

VERANO AT TALEGA CLASS ACTION

Construction Defect – Breach of Fiduciary Duty
The Spencer Law Firm has been retained by residents of the Verano at Talega development in San Clemente California to prosecute claims against developer Lennar Homes of California for construction defects including leaking copper pipes and soils issues and against the Verano at Talega Homeowners Association for breach of fiduciary duty arising out of its attempts to settle the homeowners claims without authority. This case is ongoing in the Orange County Superior Court Ramirez v. Lennar Homes of California et. al.,Orange County Superior Court Case No. 30-2013-00644699.

VITAMIN SHOPPE CLASS ACTION

Meal & Rest Breaks
$840,000 recovered for employees of Vitamin Shoppe Hourly employees of the Vitamin Shoppe in California hired the Spencer Law Firm to represent them in a class action to recover unpaid meal and rest period compensation. The case was extensively litigated over several years. The case settled for $840,000.

TALENT TREE CLASS ACTION

Unpaid Overtime/Meal & Rest Breaks
$500,000 recovered for employees of Talent Tree staffing company.

HATFIELD v. TUESDAY MORNING

Misclassification – unpaid overtime
$140,000 trial verdict. A single manager of retailer Tuesday Morning hired the Spencer Law Firm to represent her in a claim for unpaid overtime wages. The case was tried before Orange County Superior Court Judge Ronald L. Bauer. After a three week trial The Spencer Law Firm obtained a $140,975.86 trial verdict on behalf of the employee.

TARGET OPTICAL AND SEARS OPTICAL CLASS ACTION

Meal & Rest Breaks
$500,000 recovered for employees of Target Optical and Sears Optical.

Oil Field Injury

$2,700,000 recovered for an employee of an oil well servicing company. An oil field employee suffered severe injuries while pressure testing oil well tubes in Signal Hill, California. The case settled for a $2.7 Million recovery for the employee.

Automobile Accident

$500,000 recovered against an automobile manufacturer for damages caused by a defective seat back.

Illegal Employment Screening Reports

$395,000 recovered for individual employees who were the subjects of employment screening reports that did not comply with California law. The case settled in for $395,000.

$100,000 recovered for a single employee against an employment screening company who inaccurately reporting the plaintiff had a felony conviction.

Bicycle/Car Accident

$100,000 policy limits recovered for the plaintiff who suffered a broken leg after being struck by a car while riding her bicycle.

Credit Report Violations

$600,000 on behalf of individual renters against a national tenant screening company. The Spencer Law Firm was retained by individuals who who were the subjects of inaccurate tenant screening reports that improperly reported that they had previously been evicted, causing them to be denied rental opportunities. The case settled for $600,000.

Dog Bite

Confidential policy limits settlement recovered for the plaintiff who suffered lacerations to his leg after being bitten a dog while working in his yard.

Insurance Bad Faith / Broker Negligence

$750,000 recovered on behalf of plaintiffs against an insurance company and broker for insurance bad faith and broker negligence.

Cemetery Litigation

$400,000 confidential settlement against a cemetery in Los Angeles for mishandling of human remains and desecrating grave sites. The Spencer Law Firm has extensive experience litigating improper maintenance and improper handling of human remains cases against cemeteries and mortuaries over the past decade. Attorney Jeffrey Spencer had extensive involvement in the Paradise Memorial Park Cemetery Consolidated litigation. Most recently the Spencer Law Firm obtained a confidential $400,000 settlement for the family members and relatives of persons whose grave sites were desecrated by the owners and operators of a cemetery in Los Angeles, California.

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Vitamin World Class Action Lawsuit

NOTICE OF CLASS ACTION SETTLEMENT

Hamilton v. Vitamin World Inc.

Alameda County Superior Court Case No. RG10524008

The Superior Court has authorized this notice. This is not a solicitation from a lawyer

If you were employed in hourly positions by Vitamin World Inc. in California between July 7, 2006 and April 30, 2012, you could get a payment from a class action settlement

THIS NOTICE CONCERNS YOUR LEGAL RIGHTS — PLEASE READ IT CAREFULLY

  • A proposed class action settlement will provide $1,450,000 to compensate hourly employees of Vitamin World Inc. employed in California from July 7, 2006 to April 30, 2012.     You will not be subject to retaliation by participating in the settlement.
  • The settlement resolves a lawsuit over whether Vitamin World Inc. failed to pay   overtime      and regular wages, failed to provide meal and rest breaks, failed to provide accurate wage statements, failed to pay all compensation owed when employees terminated employment, failed to reimburse employee expenses and failed to pay reporting time and split shift compensation. Vitamin World denies that it violated any laws.  The settlement  avoids costs and risks to you from continuing the lawsuit, pays money to employees like you, and releases Vitamin World Inc. from liability.
  • Lawyers for the employees will ask the Court for up to $478,000 in fees and up to $20,000 as expenses for litigating the case, and negotiating the settlement.
  • The two sides disagree on how much money could have been won (if any) if the employees won at trial.
  • Your legal rights are affected whether you act, or don’t act.  Read this notice carefully.
  • These rights and options—and the deadlines to exercise them—are explained in this notice.

WHY ARE YOU RECEIVING THIS NOTICE?

You have been identified as an hourly employee of Vitamin World Inc. in California between July 7, 2006 and April 30, 2012 and are a member of the proposed class.

The Court sent you this notice  because you have the right to know about a proposed settlement of a class action lawsuit and about all of your options before the Court decides whether to approve the proposed settlement.  If the Court approves of the settlement and after any objections or appeals are resolved, an administrator appointed by the Court will make the payments that the settlement allows.

 This Notice explains the lawsuit, the settlement, your legal rights and what benefits are available and how to get them.

The Court in charge of this case is the Alameda County Superior Court for the State of California, and the case is known as Hamilton v. Vitamin World Inc. Alameda County Superior Court Case No. RG10524008.

All Class Members who do not exclude themselves from the settlement on a timely basis will receive the compensation provided for in the settlement and will be bound by the orders issued by the Court regarding the settlement.

background on the lawsuit and settlement

The proposed Hamilton v. Vitamin World Inc. class action covers the time period of July 7, 2006 to April 30, 2012.  It includes all current and former California employees of Vitamin World employed in non-overtime exempt positions (hourly employees).

The case alleges defendant Vitamin World Inc. violated certain of your employee rights, which are listed below

1)   Your right to be fully paid for all hours worked, including overtime hours;

2)   Your right to be provided required meal and rest breaks;

3)   Your right to be paid for split shifts and to receive reporting time pay according to law;

4)   Your right to be reimbursed for work related expenses such as mileage;

5)   Your right to receive an accurate and timely final paycheck;

6)   Your right to receive accurate itemized wage statements each pay period.

The lawsuit seeks to obtain compensation for violation of these rights.  In addition, it seeks to recover civil penalties payable to the State of California under the Labor Code Private Attorney General Act (PAGA).

Vitamin World Inc. denies all allegations of wrongdoing and denies any liability to Plaintiffs or to the Class Members. Vitamin World Inc. believes it would have defeated class certification and would have prevailed on the merits of the claims at trial.

After years of extensive investigation and comprehensive settlement negotiations, Plaintiffs and Defendant have reached an agreement providing for the settlement of the lawsuit.  The terms of the proposed Settlement are set forth in the Settlement Agreement filed with the Court.

Plaintiffs and Class Counsel have evaluated information made available in the course of the lawsuit and have taken into account the risks and uncertainties of proceeding with this litigation, including the risks and uncertainties of obtaining class certification, prevailing on the merits, proving damages at trial, and prevailing on post-trial motions and appeals.  Based upon their consideration of these factors, and on the substantial time and expense that will be incurred, Plaintiffs and Class Counsel believe it is in the best interests of the Class to settle the lawsuit on the terms described below. 

Vitamin World Inc. denies that it has violated California law with respect to any of the Class claims, but has agreed to settle the lawsuit for the purpose of avoiding the expense of further litigation and effectuating a settlement the proceeds of which will be distributed to present and former employees of Vitamin World Inc. who were employed in hourly positions by Vitamin World Inc. in California between July 7, 2006 and April 30, 2012.

The class

The Court has certified a class, for settlement purposes only, consisting of:

All current and former employees of VITAMIN WORLD INC. in the State of California employed in non-overtime exempt positions including but not limited to the positions of Store Manager, Assistant Manager, Second Assistant and Sales Associate at any time between July 7, 2006 and April 30, 2012.

The Parties and the Court have already determined that you are a Class Member.

terms of the proposed settlement

1.  Vitamin World Inc.  will pay $1,450,000.00 to compensate Class Members and to pay the attorney’s fees and expenses of Class Counsel, and to pay an incentive award to plaintiffs, pay the Labor Code Private Attorney General Act payment and the costs of settlement administration.  The total and maximum cost of the settlement to Vitamin World Inc. is $1,450,000.

2.  This Settlement Fund will be allocated as follows:

a) First, the amount of money awarded by the Court for attorney’s fees and litigation costs, costs of claims administration, the enhanced awards to the named Plaintiffs, and the $5,000 Payment to the State of California will be deducted.  Class Counsel will ask the Court to award a maximum of $478,500 in fees (33% of the total Fund) and $20,000 in litigation expenses.  The Court may award that amount or less but not more.  Class Counsel will also ask the Court to award $5,000 each to the two named Plaintiffs who brought this lawsuit on your behalf.  The court may award that amount or less but not more.

b)  Secondly, the amount of money awarded to the State of California for the PAGA payment will be deducted.  This amount will be up to $25,000.

c)  Thirdly, the employee and employer’s share of the payroll taxes will be deducted.

d)  Fourthly, each Class Member will receive a pro rata share of the remaining Settlement Fund based upon the number of workweeks of employment during the Class Period.  This will be at least $885,000, which is approximately 61% of the total Settlement Fund.   Your number of workweeks and estimated individual settlement payment are listed on the Claim Information Form provided herewith. The Settlement Administrator will fully and finally resolve any disputes regarding payments to Class Members.

your rights to participate in, exclude yourself from, or object to the settlement

Your options are to:

Do Nothing and Receive the Compensation 

If you take no action before the specified deadlines, then you remain a Class Member and will automatically be paid the compensation described above if the Settlement is approved by the Court.  There is no requirement that you submit a claim or take any other action to receive these benefits.  You will also be bound by the Settlement Release.

Exclude Yourself from the Settlement and Do Not Receive Compensation 

If you do not do not want to be bound by this Settlement, you may request to be excluded from the Class. If you request to be excluded from the Class, you will retain any individual rights you have against Defendants and will not have “released” Defendants from any claims. However, you will not receive the compensation described above. Also, you may not object to the Settlement under this option.

If you wish to be excluded from the Class, you must submit a written request addressed to the Hamilton v. Vitamin World Inc. class action settlement administrator CPT Group Inc. at 16630 Aston, Irvine, California 92606. The request must be postmarked no later than September 28, 2012.  To be valid, your request must:

(1) state that you wish to be excluded from the Hamilton v. Vitamin World Settlement;

(2) contain your name, address and telephone number;

(3) be signed by you.

Object to the Settlement

If you want to express an objection to part or all of the settlement, you may appear at the Final Approval Hearing and/or object to the proposed Settlement. If the settlement is approved, you will still receive the settlement compensation and be bound by the Settlement Release.  

If you wish to object or to appear at the Final Approval Hearing, you must file a written notice of objection stating your reasons for objecting and whether you or your attorney will appear at the Final Approval Hearing. To be valid, your objection must be filed with the Court no later than September 28, 2012 with copies served on:

Class Counsel

THE SPENCER LAW FIRM         

Jeffrey Spencer, Esq.       

903 CalleAmancer, Suite 220             

San Clemente, CA 92673

Counsel for Vitamin World Inc.

SIDLEY AUSTIN LLP

Geoffrey D. DeBoskey

555 West Fifth Street, Suite 4000

Los Angeles, CA 90013

You have the right to consult and/or retain an attorney of your choice at your own expense to advise you regarding the Settlement and your rights in connection with the Settlement and the Final Approval Hearing described below. You also have the right either personally, or through an attorney retained or paid by you, to seek to intervene in the Action.

RELEASE OF CLAIMS

If the Court approves the Settlement, and you have not excluded yourself as described above, you will be bound by the Settlement and will be forever barred from suing Vitamin World Inc. and related companies or persons for many claims relating to your employment that occurred prior to April 30, 2012.  This applies whether you currently know about the existence of such claims or not.

Here are the claims you will give up (these are listed in the Complaint):

1)   Claims you were not fully paid for all hours worked, including overtime hours;

2)   Claims you were not provided required meal and rest breaks;

3)   Claims you worked split shifts in violation of law; or suffered reporting time violations;

4)   Claims you were not reimbursed expenses such as mileage in violation of law;

5)   Claims you were not paid an accurate and timely final paycheck;

6)   Claims you were not given accurate itemized wage statements each pay period;

Here are possible claims that you are not giving up (they are not listed in the Complaint):

7)   Claims based on Workers’ Compensation Law;

8)   Claims alleging discrimination or harassment;

9)   Claims based on personal injury or breach of contract, theft or conversion you suffered except as related to the items listed above.

Final Approval Hearing

Purpose of Final Approval Hearing

The Court has scheduled a Final Approval Hearing to determine whether the Court should approve the Settlement as fair, reasonable, and adequate, and whether judgment should be entered in accordance with the Settlement Agreement.  The Court will also consider at the Final Approval Hearing the request of Class Counsel for an award of attorney’s fees and reimbursement of expenses as well as the request of Plaintiffs for an award for their services rendered on behalf of the Class.

Time and Location of Hearing

The Final Approval Hearing will occur at 3:00 p.m. on October 11, 2012 in Department 17 of the Alameda County Superior Court, 1221 Oak Street, Oakland, California 94612.

Attendance at Final Approval Hearing

Your attendance at the Final Approval Hearing is not required.  However, you may be heard orally at the hearing in opposition to the proposed Settlement, but only if you have not requested to be excluded from the Class and you have timely filed written objections in the manner described above, including a statement that you intend to appear and be heard at the Final Approval Hearing.  You may also enter an appearance through an attorney retained at your own expense.  If you do not enter an appearance through an attorney, and do not object, Class Counsel will represent you in the Action.

further information

This Notice's description of the case and the settlement is general.   For more details of the matters involved in this lawsuit and the settlement, you may review the settlement agreement and related pleadings as set forth below.

Inquiries regarding Settlement benefits and procedures may be directed to Class Counsel at the address specified above, or by means of telephone to 949-240-8595 or 714-854-7205 or email at jps@spencerlaw.net or jeff@lakeshorelaw.org.  You can also review the Settlement Documents at www.spencerlaw.net/vitaminworld

If you wish to review the Court's docket in this case, you may do so by visiting the DomainWeb, the Court's public access website.  Direct your browser to http://apps.alameda.courts.ca.gov/domainweb/html/index.html.  Click on “Case Summary” and then enter case number RG10524008.  You may view the Court's docket from here, including but not limited to documents filed with the Court (on the "Register of Actions"), rulings and orders, and other information.

DO NOT TELEPHONE OR ADDRESS ANY QUESTIONS ABOUT THE CASE TO THE CLERK OF THE COURT OR TO THE JUDGE.  They are not permitted to answer your questions.  THE COURT EXPRESSES NO VIEW AS TO THE MERITS OF ANY CLAIMS OR DEFENSES ASSERTED BY ANY PARTY TO THE COMPLAINT.