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Schuman v. Microchip Tech. Inc.

United States District Court for the Northern District of California

February 24, 2020, Decided; February 24, 2020, Filed

Case No. 16-cv-05544-HSG

Opinion

ORDER GRANTING CLASS CERTIFICATION

Re: Dkt. No. 107

Pending before the Court is the motion for class certification filed by Plaintiffs Peter Schuman and William Coplin. See Dkt. No. 107. The Court held a hearing on June 27, 2019. See Dkt. No. 113. For the reasons detailed below, the Court GRANTS the motion for class certification.

I. BACKGROUND

Plaintiffs filed this putative class action in September 2016, alleging violations of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act ("ERISA"). See Dkt. No. 1. Plaintiffs allege that their former employer Atmel Corporation and Atmel's merger partner Microchip Technology, Inc., which acquired Atmel in April 2016, failed to honor the terms of their employee severance agreements under the Atmel Corporation U.S. Severance Guarantee Benefit Program (the "Atmel Plan"). See Dkt. No. 29 ("FAC") at ¶¶ 1-2.

A. Factual Background

i. The Atmel Plan

In July 2015, Atmel created the Atmel Plan to encourage its approximately 1,800 U.S. employees to continue working for the company while Atmel searched for a merger partner. See FAC at ¶¶ 2, 18-19. Only July 9, 2015, Atmel delivered personalized [*3]  letters to employees describing the employees' benefits under the Atmel Plan. See id. at ¶ 20; see also Dkt. No. 107-2, Ex. H at 6-8.1 The letters detailed the three primary severance benefits of the Atmel Plan: (1) a cash payment of between 25 percent and 50 percent of annual base salary, depending on the class of employee; (2) paid health insurance premiums for between three to six months, again depending on the class of employee; and (3) a prorated portion of the employee's annual incentive bonus for director-level and professional exempt employees. See FAC at ¶ 21; see also Dkt. No. 107-2, Ex. H at 6. In an addendum to the letter, Atmel set forth the terms of the Atmel Plan:

Term of the Severance Guarantee Benefit Program: The U.S. Severance Guarantee Benefit Program is effective from July 1, 2015 and will terminate on November 1, 2015 unless an Initial Triggering Event (as described below) has occurred prior to November 1, 2015, in which event the U.S. Severance Guarantee Benefit Program will remain in effect for 18 (eighteen) months following that Initial Triggering Event.

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2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 31171 *; 2020 WL 887944

PETER SCHUMAN, et al., Plaintiffs, v. MICROCHIP TECHNOLOGY INCORPORATED, et al., Defendants.

Prior History: Schuman v. Microchip Tech. Inc., 302 F. Supp. 3d 1101, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 20281 (N.D. Cal., Feb. 6, 2018)

CORE TERMS

benefits, Plaintiffs', surcharge, releases, class member, employees, class certification, severance, equitable, expired, certification, merger, breach of fiduciary duty, questions, terminated, individualized, predominance, quotation, damages, named plaintiff, class action, severance agreement, monetary relief, director-level, parties, fiduciary duty, classwide, terms, putative class member, communications