The opinion of the court was delivered by: U.S. Magistrate Judge Hon. William V. Gallo
ORDER GRANTING PETITION TO APPROVE MINOR'S COMPROMISE [DOC. NO. 75]
Pending before this Court is Petitioner Janet Favreau's Petition to Approve Minor's Compromise. (Doc. No. 75.) For the reasons set forth below, Petitioner's Petition is hereby GRANTED, with Option 1 of the payment plan, as recommended by both Plaintiff's counsel and Defense counsel, APPROVED, with the amendments described below.
On November 15, 2010, this case was filed by Petitioner Janet Favreau, the mother of Decedent Jennifer Favreau, and Minor Plaintiff, D.F., daughter of Decedent. Minor D.F. has been represented in this action by Petitioner, her grandmother and Guardian Ad Litem. (Doc. No. 1 at. 2.) On January 18, 2013, Petitioner filed a Notice of Tentative Settlement, which was contingent upon approval by the City Council of Defendant City of Escondido, and approval by this Court of a minor's compromise on behalf of Minor D.F. (Doc. No. 72.)
In the instant Petition, Petitioner notes that she remains willing to serve as Minor D.F.'s Guardian Ad Litem, is fully competent to understand and protect the rights of the minor, and has no interest adverse to that of the minor, including any financial interest in the case, as her claims were summarily dismissed. (Doc. No. 75 at 3.) Petitioner explains that she "prays for assistance in the best interest of the minor for financial support so that D.F. can have some semblance of a normal childhood." Id. Further, Petitioner requests to collect $500 per month from the settlement funds for costs of food, clothing, cell phone, school supplies, and social activities for D.F., to be paid to an unblocked account out of an annuity fund every month. Id.
On March 5, 2013, Petitioner filed the instant Petition to Approve Minor's Compromise, which sets forth three payment plan options for the Court to review and consider. (Doc. No. 75.) The proposed annuity terms, payment plans, and instructions are attached to the instant Petition as Options 1, 2, and 3. (Id; Exh. 2.) On April 5, 2013, the Court held a Hearing on the instant Petition. Mr. Raymond Ryan appeared on behalf of Minor D.F., and Mr. Manuel Valdez participated as a representative of Ringler and Associates, a company that will assist with facilitating the structured settlement. Petitioner and Minor D.F. were also present in the undersigned's courtroom. Mr. Michael McGuinness appeared on behalf of all Defendants.
On April 9, 2013, the Court requested additional information from the San Diego Injury Law Center and the Law Offices of John L. Burris, the two law firms representing Minor D.F. in this litigation. (Doc. No. 78.) In compliance with the Court's Order, both firms provided the requested information. On April 16, 2013, the Court requested additional information from the Law Offices of John L. Burris. (Doc. No. 81.) The Court received the requested information on April 17, 2013.
This Court's Local Rule 17.1 addresses settlements for minors and provides in pertinent part, (a) Order or Judgment Required. No action by or on behalf of a minor or incompetent will be settled, compromised, voluntarily discontinued, dismissed or terminated without court order or judgment. All settlements and compromises must be reviewed by a magistrate judge before any order of approval will issue. The parties may, with district judge approval, consent to magistrate judge jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 636(c) entire settlement or compromise.*fn1 for entry of an order approving the CivLR 17.1(a)
A settlement for a minor, and attorney's fees to represent a minor, must be approved by the court. Cal. Prob. Code § 3601. In addition, reasonable expenses and court costs to be paid out of the settlement must also be approved by the court. Id. To determine whether a request for attorney's fees is reasonable, the court may consider, among other factors, the time and labor required, whether the minor's representative consented to the fee, the amount of money involved and the results obtained, and whether the fee is fixed, hourly, or contingent. Prescott v. County of Stanislaus, 2012 WL 2317542 (E.D. Cal. Jun. 18, 2012.)
The three payment options proposed in the Petition request monthly payments to be made to Petitioner from the settlement for the benefit of Minor D.F. California Code of Civil Procedure Section 372, subdivision (a) reads, in part,
Any money or other property to be paid or delivered pursuant to the order or judgment for the benefit of a minor...shall be paid and delivered as provided in Chapter 4 (commencing with Section 3600) of Part 8 of Division 4 of the Probate Code.
California Probate Code Section 3601, subdivision (a) reads, The court making the order or giving the judgment...as a part thereof, shall make a further order authorizing and directing that reasonable expenses, medical or otherwise and including reimbursement to a parent, guardian, or conservator, costs, and attorney's fees, as the court shall approve and allow therein, shall be paid from the ...