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$155 Million Settlement for 10,000 California Prison Guard Supervisors in Wage Lawsuit

by David Reutter

A California Superior Court on December 9, 2022, preliminarily approved a $155 million settlement for about 10,000 current and retired supervising state prison guards in a long-running lawsuit alleging the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) failed to pay supervisors for time worked pre- and post-shift.

The lawsuit dates back to 2008. It alleged CDCR failed to pay overtime wages to supervising guard lieutenants and sergeants for tasks such as tool pickups and briefings before shifts. In 2019, the California Supreme Court held that prison guards who were represented by the California Correctional Peace Officers Association (CCPOA) could not sue for additional pay outside of that memorialized in the union’s collective bargaining agreements. Those, the Court said, “all provided that they constituted the entire understanding of the parties concerning matters contained therein, and thus they precluded other forms of compensation.” The Court, however, reversed dismissal of claims brought by prison supervisors who were not represented by CCPOA. See: Stoetzl v. Dep’t of Human Res., 7 Cal. 5th 718 (2019).

The Superior Court’s preliminary approval certified a fourth subclass in the case and grouped all subclasses together for purposes of the settlement, which the Court found “a fair, reasonable, and settlement that is in the best interests of the members of the Settlement Class.”

Additionally, the Court preliminarily approved expenses “in an amount not to exceed $1 million.” It further found the requested attorney fees to be reasonable. The Court appointed three law firms to continue representing the settlement class: Messing, Adam & Jasmine in Sacramento; Squire, Patton, Boggs in San Francisco; and Goyette, Ruano & Thompson, also in Sacramento.

Tust Consulting was appointed to administer the settlement, with a cap on administration expenses of $250,000. The Court’s order set deadlines to provide notice to the Class and to allow challenges to earnings calculation or to opt out of the settlement. The Court scheduled a final approval hearing for October 20, 2023.

“After 15 years, we’ve reached a fair settlement,” said CCPOA president Glenn Stailey. “It restores some lost compensation to our members that they deserve.” See: Stoetzl v. State of Calif., Cal. Super. (Cty. of  San Francisco), Case No. CJC-11-004661.


Additional source: Sacramento Bee

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Related legal cases

Stoetzl v. State of Calif.

Stoetzl v. Dep’t of Human Res.