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Koumoulis v. LPL Financial Corp.

November 19, 2010

TASSO KOUMOULIS, ROBERT EARL, AND CHRISTOS HATZIS, ON BEHALF OF ) THEMSELVES AND ALL OTHERS SIMILARLY SITUATED, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
LPL FINANCIAL CORPORATION, A CALIFORNIA CORPORATION, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Barbara L. Major United States Magistrate Judge

ORDER GRANTING:

(1) CLASS CERTIFICATION;

(2) FINAL APPROVAL OF CLASS SETTLEMENT;

(3) REQUEST FOR ATTORNEYS' FEES AND COSTS; and

(4) REQUEST FOR AN ENHANCEMENT AWARD.

[ECF No. 37]

Currently before the Court is the parties' Joint Motion for Final Approval of Settlement. ECF No. 37. For the reasons set forth below, the Court GRANTS the motion.

DISCUSSION

When the parties reach a settlement prior to class certification, the court must "peruse the proposed compromise to ratify both the propriety of the certification and the fairness of the settlement." Staton v. Boeing Co., 327 F.3d 938, 952 (9th Cir. 2003). This requires the court to assess both whether a class exists and whether the proposed settlement is "'fundamentally fair, adequate, and reasonable.'" Id. (citation omitted). Accordingly, in the present case, the Court will examine the propriety of class certification, the fairness of the settlement agreement, and the appropriateness of the requested attorneys' fees and enhancement award for the named Plaintiffs.

Class Certification

A plaintiff seeking a Rule 23(b)(3) class certification must satisfy the prerequisites of both Rule 23(a) and Rule 23(b)(3). In the present case, the Court preliminarily certified the class in its July 14, 2010 Order, concluding that the proposed class satisfied the numerosity, commonality, typicality, and adequacy of representation requirements of Rule 23(a) and the predominance and superiority requirements of Rule 23(b)(3). ECF No. 34 at 3. The Court has reviewed those elements again and adopts its prior analysis. Accordingly, the Court finds that Plaintiffs have satisfied the requirements of both Rule 23(a) and Rule 23(b)(3) and GRANTS certification of the class for the purpose of settlement.

The Settlement

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(e) requires the court to determine whether a proposed settlement is "'fundamentally fair, adequate, and reasonable.'" Staton, 327 F.3d at 959 (quoting Hanlon v. Chrysler Corp., 150 F.3d 1011, 1026 (9th Cir. 1998)). To make this determination, the court must consider a number of factors, including: the strength of plaintiffs' case; the risk, expense, complexity, and likely duration of further litigation; the risk of maintaining class action status throughout the trial; the amount offered in settlement; the extent of discovery completed, and the stage of the proceedings; the experience and views of counsel; . . . and the reaction of the class members to the proposed settlement. (citation omitted). Additionally, "the settlement may not be the product of collusion among the negotiating parties." In re Mego Fin. Corp. Sec. Litig., 213 F.3d 454, 458 (9th Cir. 2000) (citing Class Plaintiffs v. City of Seattle, 955 F.2d 1268, 1290 (9th Cir. 1992)).

A. The Strength of Plaintiffs' Case; the Risk, Expense, Complexity, and Likely Duration of Further Litigation; and the Risk of Maintaining ...


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