$3.5 Million Settlement in Wine Labor Dispute

     SAN FRANCISCO (CN) – A federal judge granted preliminary approval of a $3.5 million class action settlement between an alcoholic beverage distributor and three former employees who say the company stuck its sales reps with the tab for business expenses.
     Southern Wine & Spirits of America denies its broad-market sales representatives reimbursement for business expenses incurred from the use of their personal vehicles, cell phones, home office equipment and supplies, according to the employees’ class action complaint.
     Donald Gagner and Hung Tran initially sued Southern Wine & Spirits in the Superior Court of California, Alameda County, but the case was removed to federal court.
     Gagner was voluntarily dismissed from the case, after which Gene Jovich and Leonard Greilich joined Tran as plaintiffs and filed a second amended complaint against Southern Wine & Spirits in federal court on Feb. 22, 2012.
     The three former sales representatives say their expenses added up in the field as they worked at selling wine, beer and spirits to bars, restaurants and liquor stores.
     U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White granted preliminary approval of the class action settlement agreement between the parties on Friday. White granted certification of the settlement class in his 5-page order and appointed Jovich, Tran and Greilich as class representatives. In addition, Goldstein Demchak Baller Borgen & Dardarian and Hammond Law P.C. were appointed class counsel.

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