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Booz Allen, contractor's $5 mln 'no-poach' deal ready for judge's nod

* Proposed settlement includes $3.75 million cap for fees, costs

* Defendants did not admit liability in the litigation in Ohio

By Mike Scarcella

(Reuters) - Plaintiffs' lawyers who sued defense intelligence contractors Booz Allen Hamilton Inc and Mission Essential Personnel LLC on Tuesday asked an Ohio federal judge to approve a $5 million antitrust settlement resolving claims of restrictive hiring practices.

The attorneys said Booz Allen and Mission Essential agreed to pay $1.3 million to resolve allegations that they unlawfully restricted competition for each other's employees at a former British Royal Air Force base in the UK.

The proposed deal https://fingfx.thomsonreuters.com/gfx/legaldocs/gdpzyxdxevw/booz-allen-settlement-2022.pdf also includes a $3.75 million ceiling for attorneys' fees, costs and other expenses.

A third defendant, CACI International Inc, in September 2021 said it would pay $200,000 in an "ice-breaker" deal with the plaintiffs. CACI and the other defendants have denied any liability.

The settlements are pending review before U.S. District Judge Algenon Marbley.

A spokesperson for Booz Allen said the company "has reached a settlement in this matter, without any admission of wrongdoing or liability, in order to continue its focus on the needs of clients. We stand by our hiring practices and are glad to have resolved this case."

A lawyer for Mission Essential did not immediately respond to a message on Wednesday seeking comment.

The plaintiffs' attorneys at Gibbs Law Group and Joseph Saveri Law Firm also did not immediately return a similar message.

The complaint alleged the defendant companies conspired to artificially restrict employee mobility at the former base.

Plaintiffs include certain current and former employees of Booz Allen, Mission Essential and CACI who were employed by the companies at a joint intelligence operations center in Molesworth, England, from 2015 to 2022.

The companies were providing services under federal government contracts with the U.S. Defense Department. The plaintiffs' attorneys estimated the proposed class contains about 500 members.

The terms of the proposed settlement with Booz Allen and Mission Essential include $1.62 million in attorneys' fees and $2.25 million in expenses. The defendants can oppose any motion for attorney's fees and costs, according to the terms of the deal.

The case is Hunter v. Booz Allen Hamilton Inc, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, No. 2:19-cv-00411.

For the plaintiffs: Shawn Judge of Gibbs Law Group; and Joseph Saveri of Joseph Saveri Law Firm

For Booz Allen: William Porter of Vorys, Sater, Seymour and Pease; and David Higbee of Shearman & Sterling

For Mission Essential Personnel: Robert Ware of Thompson Hine