Caddell & Chapman, along with co-counsel Devin Fok of DHF Law, P.C., recently obtained final approval of a class action settlement in Hawkins v. S2Verify, No. 3:15-cv-03502-WHA, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. On May 5, 2017, Judge William Alsup entered the order finally approving the settlement, which will pay each of the approximately 4,295 class members a cash payment of more than $176. The Court found the settlement reached by the parties to be “fair, reasonable, and adequate.” The Court’s order also awarded Caddell & Chapman’s client and lead plaintiff Regmon L. Hawkins a $1,000 incentive award for his service to the Class, attorneys’ fees of $272,687.50, costs of $40,587.51, and class administration expenses of $17,081.66.
The settlement had the overwhelming support of class members, with no objections and only three class members choosing to opt out.
The settlement was the culmination of more than a year of contested litigation beginning in June of 2015, when Hawkins filed suit against defendant S2Verify, LLC, a provider of consumer background reports. In 2013, Mr. Hawkins applied for a job as a security guard at IPC International, Inc. As part of the pre-employment process, IPC purchased a background report on Mr. Hawkins from S2Verify. That report contained three criminal charges that ended in a “No Bill by Grand Jury” and occurred more than seven years before the date of Mr. Hawkins’s report. As a result of the report, Mr. Hawkins was denied employment at IPC. The inclusion of “obsolete” criminal history information such as the three “No Bill” charges on Mr. Hawkins’s report violates Section 1681c(a)(5) of the Fair Credit Reporting Act.
Caddell & Chapman’s extensive discovery in the case uncovered that S2Verify had an internal policy to make exceptions to the FCRA for IPC and eight other clients. This led to the widespread inclusion of obsolete criminal history in thousands of background reports like that of Mr. Hawkins. The class members consists of consumers whose reports were purchased by those nine S2Verify clients, Chase Professionals, IPC International, Inc., Foodtemps, Inc. d/b/a Foodstaff, Mississippi Gaming Commission, StaffMasters, Inc., T&T Staff Management, Inc., Tarrant Regional Water District, TRC Staffing Services, or United Refining Company, from June 16, 2013 through February 28, 2014, and which contained any public record of criminal arrest, charge, information, indictment, or other adverse item of information other than records of an actual conviction of a crime, which antedated the report by more than 7 years.