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Ristorante v. Ingomar Packing Co.

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT EASTERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA


November 6, 2009

L'OTTAVO RISTORANTE, DANIEL HARVEY AND SYLVIA HIE, ON BEHALF OF THEMSELVES AND ALL OTHERS SIMILARLY SITUATED, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
INGOMAR PACKING COMPANY, LOS GATOS TOMATO PRODUCTS, INTRAMARK USA, INC., AND RANDAL LEE RAHAL, DEFENDANTS.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Morrison C. England, Jr. United States District Judge

ORDER

This is a class action complaint instituted on behalf of indirect purchasers of processed tomato products, who allege that Defendants improperly engaged in price-fixing and other anticompetitive conduct in violation of antitrust laws.

Presently before the Court is Plaintiffs' Motion to Appoint Reese Richman, LLP, and Milberg, LLP, as Interim Co-Lead Counsel for the Indirect Purchaser Class, pursuant to the provisions of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(g).*fn1 A Statement of Non-Opposition was filed on behalf of both Defendants Ingomar Packing Company and Los Gatos Tomato Products. No opposition has been submitted to Plaintiffs' Motion on behalf of the remaining Defendants to this matter.

Under Rule 23(g)(3), the Court may designate interim class counsel to represent the interests of the alleged class in initial proceedings, even before determining whether to certify the class as a whole. Rule 23(g)(1) provides the following guidelines for the appointment of class counsel:

"In appointing class counsel, the court:

(A) must consider:

(i) the work counsel has done in identifying or investigating potential claims in the action;

(ii) counsel's experience in handling class actions, other complex litigation, and the types of claims asserted in the action;

(iii) counsel's knowledge of the applicable law; and

(iv) the resources that counsel will commit to representing the class;

(B) may consider any other matter pertinent to counsel's ability to fairly and adequately represent the interests of the class..."

Fed. R. Civ. P. 23(g)(a)(A), (B).

The most common means of selecting class counsel is the so-called "private ordering" approach, whereby involved counsel jointly come to a representational consensus and submit their recommendation in that regard to the court for approval. See Manual for Complex Litigation (Fourth) § 21.272, p. 279 (Fed. Jud. Ctr. 2004).

Here, counsel for the Plaintiff class, Reese Richman, LLP, and Milberg, LLP, have agreed to serve as interim co-lead counsel. According to the papers, both firms specialize in class actions in the antitrust field, and both have partners with extensive litigation experience in that field. Both appear well established and capable of providing quality representation to Plaintiffs in this matter. Plaintiffs' Motion for Appointment of Interim Class Counsel (Docket No. 24) is accordingly GRANTED.*fn2

The hearing on Plaintiffs' Motion, set for November 12, 2009, is vacated.

IT IS SO ORDERED.


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