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Prince Swayzer Ii, et al v. City of San Jose

August 5, 2011

PRINCE SWAYZER II, ET AL.,
PLAINTIFFS,
v.
CITY OF SAN JOSE, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Howard R. Lloyd United States Magistrate Judge

** E-filed August 5, 2011 **

NOT FOR CITATION

United States District Court For the Northern District of California

ORDER GRANTING PETITION FOR APPROVAL OF MINOR'S COMPROMISE

[Re: Docket No. 33]

BACKGROUND

This is a § 1983 action against defendant City of San Jose (the "City").*fn1 Plaintiffs are Prince Swayzer II; Deborah Porter; and Jill Scott, the guardian ad litem on behalf of J.P.S. and 19 administrator of the estate of her minor son, decedent Prince Swayzer III (collectively, "Plaintiffs").

Plaintiffs sued the City under 18 U.S.C. § 1983 and other authorities in relation to the alleged wrongful death of Prince Swayzer III during his arrest by officers of the San Jose police department.

Following early neutral evaluation, the parties entered into an agreement whereby the City will pay $10,000 to Plaintiffs in complete and final settlement of all claims. After deducting costs and 25% attorney fees, each plaintiff -- including Scott, on behalf of J.P.S. -- will receive a net total 25 of $2,054.17. Because J.P.S. is a minor, Plaintiffs filed a petition for approval of minor's compromise.

safeguard the interests of litigants who are minors." Robidoux v. Rosengren, 638 F.3d 1177, 1181 (9th Cir. 2011). "Rule 17(c) provides, in relevant part, that a district court 'must appoint a guardian 5 ad litem - or issue another appropriate order - to protect a minor or incompetent person who is 6 unrepresented in an action.'" Id. (quoting FED. R. CIV. P. 17(c)). "In the context of proposed 7 settlements in suits involving minor plaintiffs, this special duty requires a district court to 'conduct 8 its own inquiry to determine whether the settlement serves the best interests of the minor.'" Id.

As the Ninth Circuit has recently made clear, in cases involving the settlement of a minor's federal claims*fn2 , district courts should "limit the scope of their review to the question whether the net amount distributed to each minor plaintiff in the settlement is fair and reasonable, in light of the 13 facts of the case, the minor's specific claim, and recovery in similar cases," and should "evaluate the 14 fairness of each minor plaintiff's net recovery without regard to the proportion of the total 15 settlement value designated for adult co-plaintiffs or plaintiffs' counsel-whose interests the district 16 court has no special duty to safeguard." Id. at 1181-82 (citing Dacanay, 573 F.2d at 1078).

J.P.S., through his guardian ad litem, has agreed to settle his claims against the City in 19 exchange for $2,054.17. Upon review of the papers submitted, the Court finds this amount to be 20 reasonable and the settlement to be in the best interest of all parties. The Court grants Plaintiffs' 21 application.

Based on the foregoing, Plaintiffs' application for this Court's approval of a minor's 24 compromise it GRANTED. The parties shall promptly file a stipulated dismissal pursuant to ...


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