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LeBlanc v. Halliburton Co.

United States District Court, D. New Mexico

September 24, 2018

BRENT LEBLANC, Individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated, Plaintiff,
v.
HALLIBURTON COMPANY, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER APPROVING NOTICE

         This matter comes before the Court upon Plaintiff Brent LeBlanc's (LeBlanc's) Notice of Filing Proposed Notice Documents (Notice) filed August 29, 2018 (Doc. 54), and Defendant Halliburton Company's (Halliburton's) Motion to Approve Notice (Motion) filed on the same day (Doc. 55). The two filings relate that the parties have failed to agree on a form of notice. (Doc. 54) at 1, (Doc. 55) at 1-2. Having read the parties' submissions, the Court finds the following form of notice to be appropriate and ORDERS it to be distributed to putative class members pursuant to the timeline previously ordered. (Doc. 51) at 5-6.

         1. Background

         On August 21, 2018, the Court granted LeBlanc's Motion for Conditional Certification, and certified a class comprised of the following:

Directional drillers employed by, or working on behalf of, Halliburton Company as independent contractors any time between three years prior to the date of this Memorandum and Order of Conditional Certification, and the present.

Id. at 5. The Court ordered the parties to “meet and confer as to the contents of the notice of lawsuit to putative class members and the manner by which to distribute such notice.” Id. at 4. The Court further ordered the parties to submit either a stipulated notice or their disputed notices no later than August 27, 2018. Id. at 4-5. The parties failed to agree on a stipulated form of notice, despite being granted additional time by the Court to do so. (Doc. 53). Rather, the parties have submitted dueling forms of notice to the Court bereft of rationale on why they differ. Therefore, pursuant to the discretion that inheres in this Court to formulate class notice, the Court has resolved the differences between the parties and now approves the form set forth infra.

         2. Notice Standard

         The FLSA's provisions “are remedial and humanitarian in purpose.” Tennessee Coal, Iron & R. Co. v. Muscoda Local No. 123, 321 U.S. 590, 597 (1944). To join as a plaintiff in an action to recover unpaid wages, similarly-situated employees must consent in writing. 29 U.S.C. § 216(b). Accordingly, counsel representing parties in FLSA actions send prospective class members notices to inform them about the lawsuit. Employees must receive “accurate and timely notice concerning the pendency of the collective action, so that they can make informed decisions about whether to participate.” Hoffmann-La Roche Inc. v. Sperling, 493 U.S. 165, 170 (1989). District courts have discretion to approve the content of FLSA class notices. Id. (interpreting FLSA provisions to determine notice procedures under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act).

         3. LeBlanc's Notice

         In his Notice, LeBlanc attaches three separate groups of documents, which, when considered as a whole, offer the Court its only insight into the parties' negotiations and remaining disputes. (Doc. 54), exs. A-C. These groups consist of: (1) Halliburton's proposed notice documents; (2) a “redlined” version of LeBlanc's proposed notice that incorporates “some, but not all, ” of Halliburton's proposed changes to LeBlanc's proposed notice; and (3) LeBlanc's proposed final notice documents, including the changes proposed by Halliburton that LeBlanc accepted. Id. at 1, exs. A-C.

         4. Halliburton's Notice

         Halliburton adopts a different approach. It states that the parties “have been actively working to agree on language . . . [but] have not been able to reach an agreement at the time of filing.” (Doc. 55) at 1. Halliburton neither explains the parties' negotiations, nor memorializes their agreements or disagreements. Rather, it simply asks this Court to accept its proposed documents, which it attaches in its three component parts: notice, consent, and email forms. (Doc. 55), exs. A-C. Notably, Halliburton's notice form is the same that LeBlanc attaches as his exhibit A. (Doc. 54), ex. A, (Doc. 55), ex. A.

         5. Court-Approved Form of Notice

         The Court is thus presented with two proposed forms of notice. The first, by LeBlanc, evinces negotiations and concessions made between the parties. The second, by Halliburton, contains language unimproved by the negotiation process. Naturally, the Court is inclined toward the document leavened by the course of compromise. Furthermore, having reviewed both groups of documents in detail, the Court finds that LeBlanc's proposed consent form and email form to be in good order and HEREBY ADOPTS them as the Court-approved consent and email forms in this case. LeBlanc's notice form is also ADOPTED IN PART, subject to the modifications below.

         a. ...


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