ICM Interns Settlement Given Final Approval By Judge

Issue 38 BIZ Interns Illustration - H 2012

Issue 38 BIZ Interns Illustration - H 2012

ICM Partners has been granted final approval on a $725,000 settlement with the talent agency's former interns.

U.S. District Judge Lorna Schofield signed off on the pact after conducting a Fairness Hearing, which addressed the recent decision by the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals to overturn a summary judgment victory by former interns suing Fox Searchlight.

The fact that a federal appeals court shook up the analysis on whether unpaid interns are actually unpaid employees — and also made class certification more difficult — didn't get in the way of approval of a settlement that was announced last December.

If anything, the appellate ruling bolstered the argument that the lawyers for the plaintiffs deserved a large reward for their efforts. The law firm of Outten & Golden is walking away with about $242,000 — about a third of the settlement fund — in a case that lasted a little longer than a year.

"An upward adjustment from the median attorneys’ fee is warranted in this case because the Settlement Classes and Class Counsel faced a significant risk from the uncertainty in the law with respect to how determine whether unpaid interns are entitled to compensation, as borne out by the recent decision in Glatt v. Fox Searchlight Pictures, Inc.," writes the judge in a ruling issued late last week.

Lead plaintiffs Kimberly Behzadi and Jason Rindenau will each get $10,000, and after a small portion going to litigation expenses, a claims administration consulting company, and the California Labor and Workforce Development Agency, the rest will head to about 500 former interns at ICM.

"The Settlement Stipulation is procedurally fair because it was reached through vigorous, arm’s-length negotiations and after experienced counsel had evaluated the merits of Plaintiffs’ claims through factual and legal investigation," writes the judge.

The Glatt decision will likely come up in other pending litigation on the internship front soon. Attorneys for Sony Music, for instance, recently provided notice to the judge overseeing its defense against former interns.