The opinion of the court was delivered by: Andrew J. Guilford United States District Judge
ORDER GRANTING FINAL APPROVAL OF CLASS SETTLEMENT AND GRANTING APPLICATION FOR ATTORNEY FEES AND COSTS AND INCENTIVE AWARDS
Plaintiff Kelsea Baggett ("Plaintiff Baggett") filed a Motion for Final Approval of Settlement ("Motion"). Plaintiff James Young ("Plaintiff Young") and Plaintiff Baggett also filed a Motion for Attorneys' Fees and Reimbursement of Litigation Expenses ("Application"). After oral argument and after reviewing all papers and arguments submitted, including some very recent submissions and cases, the Court GRANTS the Motion and GRANTS the Application.
This case challenges Hewlett-Packard's practice of including a "hardstop" on its color laser jet printers that shuts down all printing operations when a toner cartridge reaches "empty," even though some toner remains in the cartridge. Plaintiff Baggett and Plaintiff Young each filed a class action case against Defendant based on cartridge issues with some Hewlett Packard color LaserJet printers. Plaintiffs alleged that the toner cartridges would shut down even though some toner was left. Plaintiff Baggett alleged that the shutdown could not be overriden. Plaintiff Young alleged that later models would also shut down with toner remaining but the process could be overridden by the user.
Plaintiff Baggett asserted claims for violation of the California Unfair Competition Law, unjust enrichment, conversion, trespass to chattels, and fraudulent concealment. The Court dismissed the claim for unjust enrichment but denied Defendant's motion to dismiss the other claims. The Court later granted summary judgment against Plaintiff Baggett and denied as moot the motion for class certification. Plaintiff Baggett appealed to the Ninth Circuit.
Plaintiff Young asserted claims for violation of the California Unfair Competition Law, the California Consumers Legal Remedies Act, unjust enrichment, conversion, trespass to chattels, and fraudulent concealment. Defendant moved to dismiss, which this Court granted. Plaintiff Young appealed to the Ninth Circuit.
Both Plaintiffs are dismissing their appeals based on this settlement. Class counsel contends that settlement was reached largely because Defendant admitted it changed its practices in response to this litigation, and has agreed to related injunctive relief. The parties have now reached a settlement and ask the Court to grant final approval.
The Court held a final fairness hearing on the Motion and Application. The Court then took the matter under submission for further review, and has now reviewed recent cases that might affect its ruling, including cases submitted along the way by the parties and objectors. In particular, the Court has considered the very recent ruling in In re Bluetooth Headset Liability Litigation, - F.3d -, 2011 WL 3632604 (9th Cir. Aug. 19, 2011). The Court has now completed its review and thus issues this Order.
1. CLASS CERTIFICATION FOR PURPOSES OF SETTLEMENT
Plaintiffs seek class certification for purposes of settlement. As set forth previously, Plaintiffs move for final certification of "a class (the 'Settlement Class') of all individual or entity end-users who purchased, leased, received as a gift or otherwise acquired in the United States an Affected Model (as defined in the Stipulation of Settlement). Excluded from the Settlement Class are all persons who are employees, directors, officers, and/or agents of HP or its subsidiaries and affiliated companies, as well as the Court and its immediate family and staff."
As mentioned, the Court previously granted Plaintiffs' request to certify a class for purposes of settlement on a preliminary basis. (Dkt. # 219.) The Court previously considered the four prerequisites set forth in Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(a) and determined that this class preliminarily met those requirements. At that stage, the Court carefully reviewed the proposed terms and gave substantial guidance to the parties on issues such as the proposed release of claims by class members.
Nothing has changed since the Court granted preliminary approval that would warrant a deviation from the Court's previous ruling. Accordingly, the Court certifies the class for purposes of class settlement for the reasons specified in more detail in the preliminary approval order.