Preliminary settlement in Vista Window lawsuit OK’d

LORDSTOWN — A judge has approved a preliminary settlement of more than $680,000 in a class-action lawsuit against now defunct Vista Window Company, which suddenly shut its doors and closed out employees earlier this year.

A ruling in the case filed by former employee Condie Stell of Austintown shortly after he was terminated in the mass layoff in January states the agreement is “reasonable and cost-effective,” and spells out the next steps before the settlement can be finalized.

According to a proposal filed with the court, 110 employees and their attorneys will share $682,289.

Members of the lawsuit will be notified of the agreement by mail and have the opportunity to opt-out or object. A hearing on final approval of the agreement is set Aug. 28.

Vista closed its production facility at 1707 Henn Parkway on Jan. 14. A notice stating it had “ceased all operations” was posted on the entrance.

Stell filed the lawsuit Jan. 25 in federal court in Youngstown claiming Vista violated the federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act’s requirement of giving its employees at least 60 days advanced written notice of the mass layoff.

Vista filed the notice Jan. 14 with the state, claiming it was a “faltering company” that was trying to attract new capital or business in order to remain open and “giving notice would have ruined” those efforts.

The company laid off 23 employees in December and 87 more with the January announcement, the notice states.

The proposal calls for Stell to receive $5,000 as a service payment for being a class representative; the attorneys to receive one-third of the gross amount minus any member who opts-out, Stell’s payment and expenses, which are capped at $5,000; and the balance to be distributed to the other members.

The net settlement represents pay and benefits, plus interest, for the 60-day period less time they may have worked during the period and their share of other lawsuit fees and taxes.

The money will be distributed no later than Aug. 1 or five business days after the settlement is confirmed by the court.

Also named was Portland, Maine-based Paradigm Operating Company, which the lawsuit states bought Vista in 2017.

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