WASHINGTON, D.C., NEW YORK, and HOUSTON (SEND2PRESS NEWSWIRE) — The Law Office of Richard T. Seymour, P.L.L.C. (www.rickseymourlaw.com) and The Jacob D. Fuchsberg Law Firm, LLP (www.fuchsberg.com), counsel for a class of present and former employees of Service Corp. International affiliates, and Baker & Hostetler LLP (www.bakerlaw.com), counsel for Service Corp. International, and its affiliates, are today announcing a settlement in Sines et al. v. Service Corp. International (“SCI”), et al., a case in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

The case involves premium payments, overtime and other wage & hour claims for funeral directors and other non-exempt employees under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) and the New York Labor Law (“NYLL”). The Court gave preliminary approval to the proposed settlement on February 10, for the purpose of providing notice to class members and to give them an opportunity to opt out, object, or file claim forms, and approved the Notice on February 15, 2006.

Under the settlement, more than six hundred New York present and former employees of affiliates of SCI from July 23, 1997, to October 1, 2004, will share in the award. The ending date coincides with a number of changes SCI made in its compensation practices as a result of the case. A 19-page proposed Consent Decree is part of the settlement.

The proposed Consent Decree provides a means of resolving any disputes that arise in the three years after approval, and for monitoring defendants’ compliance with the Consent Decree.

The parties have submitted the proposed settlement to the Court, and have requested preliminary approval so that notice can be given to present and former employees and they can be given an opportunity to comment or file objections on the proposed settlement, to opt out. Employees considered exempt from overtime requirements will also have an opportunity under the settlement to assert that they were not exempt, and to seek relief.

The proposed settlement was submitted by Richard T. Seymour of the Law Office of Richard T. Seymour, P.L.L.C., in Washington, D.C., Alan L. Fuchsberg of The Jacob Fuchsberg Law Firm in New York City, representing the employees, and Nancy L. Patterson of Baker & Hostetler in Houston, Texas, representing defendants. The law firm of Lieff, Cabraser, Heimann & Bernstein, LLP, a class action firm with offices in New York, San Francisco, and Nashville, also worked extensively on the case.

Mr. Seymour stated:

This is an important case involving premium payments, overtime, and other issues, with massive computer files and hard-copy pay records. Some of the problems in this case began before SCI acquired some of the funeral homes in question, and continued thereafter. SCI should be commended for its willingness to recognize the problems we brought to its attention, and to correct the situation.

SCI was willing to deem every present and former employee within the three-year period of limitations on the FLSA claims to have “opted in,” and was willing to deem every present and former employee as having intervened on the NYLL claims, subject to their right to “opt out” later, if that is what they want.

The class recovery in the proposed settlement is an eminently reasonable amount.

Both sides worked together extremely well in resolving difficult factual and legal issues, and plaintiffs were given the opportunity to meet informally with defense counsel and defendants’ expert and officials, both in person and by telephone, in addition to all the tools of formal discovery. Mr. Sines,’ Mr. Williams,’ and SCI’s problem-solving approach made a resolution possible much earlier, with more going to the class and less in transaction costs.

A great deal of credit is also due to Alan Fuchsberg, who originated the case, persuaded me of its merit, and worked with me throughout it, and to my former firm, Lieff, Cabraser, Heimann & Bernstein LLP, which has unfailingly supported this case both when I was with the firm, and thereafter.

Mr. Seymour’s contact information is stated below.

Mr. Fuchsberg stated:

Credit also goes to the Department of Labor for being the first to advise the class representatives that a wage and hour violation might exist, and to the class representatives for expressing aloud their conviction that their overtime wages were not being calculated correctly and for providing their counsel with a detailed understanding of the everyday overtime activities in the funeral profession where unfortunately needs have to be met on short notice at unplanned times.

Good faith negotiation was demonstrated by both sides in a matter that called for correction under the Department of Labor’s interpretation of Fair Labor Standards Act. This effort combined with the insistence of counsel for a meticulous application of the law, which has now resulted in a very just compensatory settlement.

Mr. Fuchsberg’s contact information is stated below.

Ms. Patterson stated:

SCI’s approach to this case is in fact a model for other employers. SCI never had any intention of violating the law, and denies having done so. The Department of Labor regulations on which this lawsuit was based are highly technical, and the outcome of a lawsuit was uncertain. If the case had gone to trial, there was a real possibility SCI might have won.

However, SCI has always prided itself on setting an example for other companies to follow, in terms of how it treats its employees. From the outset, SCI was strongly interested in getting straight to the merits, finding out if there were any problems that had possible merit, and doing the right thing. We made clear to plaintiffs’ counsel that we were interested in working out a fair solution, and one that carries out SCI’s policies of being an exemplary employer.

The practical approach of both sides helped a great deal in bringing this case to a fair resolution.

Ms. Patterson’s contact information is stated below.

Mr. Seymour will hold meetings with class members in Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, Albany, Long Island, Queens, and Manhattan.

Documents:

The text of some of the key settlement documents can be found on Mr. Seymour’s web site, www.rickseymourlaw.com, by clicking on “Info on Cases” on the left side.

CONTACT INFORMATION:

Richard T. Seymour
Law Office of Richard T. Seymour, P.L.L.C.
1150 Connecticut Avenue N.W., Suite 900
Washington, D.C. 20036-4129
Voice: 202-862-4320
Cell: 202-549-1454
Facsimile: 800-805-1065
e-mail: rick@rickseymourlaw.net
Web Site: www.rickseymourlaw.com
Practicing in all aspects of employment law, wage & hour law, and class actions

Alan L. Fuchsberg
The Jacob D. Fuchsberg Law Firm, LLP
500 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10110
Voice: (212) 869-3500
Facsimile: (212) 398-1532
Practicing in the fields of employment, personal injury and civil rights, including class actions.

Nancy L. Patterson, Esq.
Baker & Hostetler LLP
1000 Louisiana, Suite 1000
Houston, TX 77002
Voice: 713-646-1339
Facsimile: 713-751-1717
e-mail: npatterson@bakerlaw.com
Practicing in all aspects of employment law, wage & hour law, and class actions

News issued by: Law Office of Richard T. Seymour, P.L.L.C.

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Original Story ID: (1328) :: 2006-02-0221-006

Original Keywords: Law Office of Richard T. Seymour, P.L.L.C., Service Corp. International Affiliates, settlement, Fair Labor Standards Act, FLSA, New York Labor Law, Richard T. Seymour, Alan L. Fuchsberg of The Jacob Fuchsberg Law Firm, Nancy L. Patterson of Baker & Hostetler Law Office of Richard T. Seymour, P.L.L.C.

News Source: Law Office of Richard T. Seymour, P.L.L.C.