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Wells v. Unilever United States, Inc.

United States District Court, N.D. California, Oakland Division

February 19, 2014

JOSEPHINE WELLS and CATHERINE RENY, on Behalf of Themselves and All Others Similarly Situated, Plaintiffs,
v.
UNILEVER UNITED STATES, INC., LEK INC., and CONOPCO, INC. d/b/a UNILEVER HOME & PERSONAL CARE USA, Defendants.

AZRA Z. MEHDI (220406) THE MEHDI FIRM, PC, San Francisco, CA, Local Counsel for Plaintiffs

SCHIFF HARDIN LLP, Jeffrey R. Williams (Bar No. 84156), Rocky N. Unruh (Bar No. 84049), Sarah D. Youngblood (Bar No. 244304), San Francisco, CA, Attorneys for Defendants Unilever United States, Inc. and Conopco, Inc. d/b/a Unilever Home & Personal Care USA.

CLASS ACTION STIPULATION AND ORDER DISMISSING THIS ACTION WITHOUT PREJUDICE Local Rules 7-1(5) and 7-12

SAUNDRA BROWN ARMSTRONG, Sr., District Judge.

Pursuant to Civil L.R. 7-1(5) and 7-12, plaintiffs Josephine Wells and Catherine Reny and defendants Unilever United States, Inc. and Conopco, Inc., by their respective counsel, stipulate and agree as follows:[1]

1. Because this matter has been resolved as part of a February 7, 2014 nationwide class settlement in a related matter, Reid, et al. v. Unilever United States, Inc., et al., N.D.Ill. Case No. 12-cv-6058 (the " Reid lawsuit"), subject to final approval, the parties respectfully ask that this Court stay or dismiss this suit pending the final approval hearing in the Reid lawsuit, currently set for July 9, 2014.

2. Plaintiffs in this case assert a variety of claims relating to a hair care product, the Suave Professionals Keratin Infusion 30 Day Smoothing Kit (the "Product"). Plaintiffs' Complaint (Dkt. #1) asserts claims for breach of warranty, violation of consumer protection statutes, false advertising, unjust enrichment, strict product liability and negligence/gross negligence on behalf of (a) a putative class consisting of all persons who purchased the Product in any state other than Alabama, Illinois, Kentucky, Nevada and Wisconsin or, in the alternative, (b) all persons who purchased the Product in the state of California. Plaintiffs' counsel have also filed two other putative class actions alleging virtually identical claims: the Reid lawsuit, alleging claims on behalf of residents of Alabama, Illinois, Nevada and Wisconsin; and Naiser v. Unilever United States, Inc., W.D. Ky. Case No. 13-cv-395, alleging claims on behalf of residents of Kentucky.

3. On November 25, 2013, the parties filed a Stipulation and Proposed Order (Dkt. #14) to stay all proceedings in this case until January 14, 2014 while the parties attempted to resolve all three cases (hereafter, the "Smoothing Kit Lawsuits") through mediation. On November 26, 2013, this Court entered an Order (Dkt. #15) granting the parties' Stipulation and staying all proceedings until January 14, 2014.

4. On December 27, 2013, the Parties filed a Stipulation and Proposed Order (Dkt. #16) to extend the previously entered stay of all proceedings in this matter to February 13, 2014, defer all deadlines set forth in the Court's October 16, 2013 Order Setting Initial Case Management Conference and ADR Deadlines (Dkt. #4), and vacate the case management conference that was scheduled for January 23, 2014. On December 30, 2013, the Court entered the order requested by the parties and stayed all proceedings until February 13, 2014. Dkt. #17.

5. On February 7, 2014, counsel for the named plaintiffs in this action - Josephine Wells and Catherine Reny - along with Reid plaintiffs Sidney Reid, Alisha Barnett, Dawn Damrow, and Fran Penell, and the Naiser plaintiffs Terri Naiser and Jonnie Phillips, signed and presented a Settlement Agreement (the "Settlement Agreement") to the Reid court, agreeing to the resolution of all three of the Smoothing Kit Lawsuits. Reid, Dkt. #90-1. The Settlement Agreement provides, among other things, that plaintiffs Wells and Reny shall request that this Court stay this action or dismiss it without prejudice pending final approval of the settlement. Id., ¶18.

6. On February 12, 2014, the Honorable Ruben Castillo of the Northern District of Illinois granted preliminary approval of the settlement, incorporating the Settlement Agreement by reference (¶1), preliminarily certifying a nationwide settlement class (¶6), and directing notice to the nationwide settlement class (¶¶13-16). Reid, Dkt. #96. (The Parties have attached for this Court a courtesy copy of the Preliminary Approval Order, as Exhibit 1 to this Stipulation.) In the Order, Judge Castillo (i) added named plaintiffs Josephine Wells and Catherine Reny as plaintiffs in the Reid action (¶2); (ii) incorporated the Settlement Agreement, which requires that the parties move to dismiss or stay this action; (iii) stayed and suspended all pretrial proceedings in Reid, and stayed and enjoined the defined Settlement Class Members from the filing or pursuit of any other proceedings "based on, relating to, or arising out of the claims, assertions and causes of action raised in the [ Reid ] Action and/or the Released Claims, or the facts and circumstances relating to any of them" unless and until the court determines that a Settlement Class Member has properly excluded himself or herself from the Settlement Class. Judge Castillo has set a Final Approval hearing for July 9, 2014 at 1:30 p.m.

IT IS THEREFORE STIPULATED AND AGREED and the parties respectfully request through this application that the Court enter an order extending the previously entered stay of proceedings in this matter, including all discovery, or, in the alternative, that the Court dismiss this action without prejudice, until such time as Judge Castillo issues an Order in the Reid case regarding Final Approval of the Settlement Agreement.

I attest and certify that I received permission from defendants' counsel before e-filing this document and will retain proof of this permission.

PURSUANT TO STIPULATION AND GOOD CAUSE APPEARING, THE COURT ENTERS THE FOLLOWING ORDER:

By stipulation of the parties, this matter is dismissed without prejudice, with each side to bear its own costs.


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