United States District Court, E.D. California
SHIRLEY GARNETT, on behalf of herself and all others similarly situated, Plaintiff,
ADT, LLC, and DOES 1-50, inclusive, Defendants.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER RE: MOTION FOR FINAL APPROVAL OF
CLASS ACTION SETTLEMENT
WILLIAM B. SHUBB UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Shirley Garnett brought this putative class action against
defendant ADT, LLC, asserting claims arising out of
defendant’s alleged failure to reimburse for
work-related vehicle expenses and failure to provide accurate
wage statements as required by California law. Presently
before the court is plaintiff’s motion for final
approval of the class action settlement, (Docket No. 87), and
motion for attorney’s fees, costs, and an incentive
award for the named plaintiff, (Docket No. 86).
Factual and Procedural Background
avoid repetition, the court will refrain from reciting the
factual and procedural background, which remains the same as
in its October 6, 2015 Order granting plaintiff’s
partial motion for summary judgment on plaintiff’s
itemized wage statement claim and denying defendant’s
cross-motion for summary judgment. (Oct. 6, 2015 Order
(Docket No. 33).)
court granted preliminary approval of plaintiff’s class
action settlement on April 18, 2016. (Apr. 18, 2016 Order
(Docket No. 85).) Plaintiff now seeks final approval of the
class-wide settlement pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 23(e). (Pl.’s Mot. for Final Approval
(“Pl.’s Mot.”) (Docket No. 87-1).)
Defendant does not oppose plaintiff’s motions.
23(e) provides that “[t]he claims, issues, or defenses
of a certified class may be settled . . . only with the
court’s approval.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 23(e).
“Approval under 23(e) involves a two-step process in
which the Court first determines whether a proposed class
action settlement deserves preliminary approval and then,
after notice is given to class members, whether final
approval is warranted.” Nat’l Rural
Telecomms. Coop. v. DIRECTV, Inc., 221 F.R.D. 523, 525
(C.D. Cal. 2004) (citing Manual for Complex Litig.,
Third, § 30.41 (1995)).
Ninth Circuit has declared a strong judicial policy favoring
settlement of class actions. Class Plaintiffs v. City of
Seattle, 955 F.2d 1268, 1276 (9th Cir. 1992).
Nevertheless, where, as here, “the parties reach a
settlement agreement prior to class certification, courts
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).
action will be certified only if it meets the four
prerequisites identified in Rule 23(a) and additionally fits
within one of the three subdivisions of Rule 23(b). See
Ontiveros v. Zamora, Civ. No. 2:08-567 WBS DAD, 2014 WL
3057506, at *4 (E.D. Cal. July 7, 2014); Fed.R.Civ.P.
23(a)-(b). Although a district court has discretion in
determining whether the moving party has satisfied each Rule
23 requirement, see Califano v. Yamasaki, 442 U.S.
682, 701 (1979); Montgomery v. Rumsfeld, 572 F.2d
250, 255 (9th Cir. 1978), the court must conduct a rigorous
inquiry before certifying a class, see Gen. Tel. Co. of
Sw. v. Falcon, 457 U.S. 147, 161 (1982); E. Tex.
Motor Freight Sys. v. Rodriguez, 431 U.S. 395, 403-05
Rule 23(a) Requirements
23(a) restricts class actions to cases where:
(1) the class is so numerous that joinder of all members is
impracticable; (2) there are questions of law or fact common
to the class; (3) the claims or defenses of the
representative parties are typical of the claims or defenses
of the class; and (4) the representative parties will fairly
and adequately protect the interests of the class.
Civ. P. 23(a). These requirements are more commonly referred
to as numerosity, commonality, typicality, and adequacy of
Preliminary Approval Order, the court found that the class
satisfied these requirements, (Apr. 18, 2016 Order at 3-9),
and the court is unaware of any changes that would alter its
action that meets all the prerequisites of Rule 23(a) may be
certified as a class action only if it also satisfies the
requirements of one of the three subdivisions of Rule 23(b).
Leyva v. Medline Indus. Inc., 716 F.3d 510, 512 (9th
Cir. 2013). Plaintiff seeks certification under Rule
23(b)(3), which provides that a class action may be
maintained only if (1) “the court finds that questions
of law or fact common to class members predominate over
questions affecting only individual members” and (2)
“that a class action is superior to other available
methods for fairly and efficiently adjudicating the
controversy.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 23(b)(3).
Preliminary Approval Order, the court found that both
prerequisites were satisfied. (Apr. 18, 2016 Order at 9-10.)
The court is unaware of any changes that would affect this
conclusion. Accordingly, since the settlement class satisfied
both Rule 23(a) and 23(b)(3), the court will grant
plaintiff’s motion for final certification of the
Rule 23(c)(2) Notice Requirements
court certifies a class under Rule 23(b)(3), it “must
direct to class members the best notice that is practicable
under the circumstances, including individual notice to all
members who can be identified through reasonable
effort.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 23(c)(2)(B). Rule 23(c)(2)
governs both the form and content of a proposed notice.
See Ravens v. Iftikar, 174 F.R.D. 651, 658 (N.D.
Cal. 1997) (citing Eisen v. Carlisle &
Jacquelin, 417 U.S. 156, 172-77 (1974)). Although that
notice must be “reasonably certain to inform the absent
members of the plaintiff class, ” actual notice is not
required. Silber v. Mabon, 18 F.3d 1449, 1454 (9th
Cir. 1994) (citation omitted).
case, the court-appointed claims administrator, ILYM, mailed
notice to 1, 593 class members on May 9, 2016, after checking
the names and addresses against the National Change of
Address database maintained by the United States Postal
Service and updating any changed addresses. (Mullins Decl.
¶¶ 7-8 (Docket No. 87-3).) One hundred sixty notice
packets were returned and ILYM located updated addresses and
re-mailed the packets. (Id. at ¶ 9.) Only nine
notices were deemed undeliverable. (Id.)
notice explained the proceedings; defined the scope of the
class; informed the class members of the claim form
requirement and the binding effect of the class action;
described the procedure for opting out and objecting; and
provided the time and date of the final fairness hearing.
(Id. Ex. A, Notice.) In addition, the parties
modified the text box on page two of the notice entitled,
“YOUR LEGAL RIGHTS AND OPTIONS IN THIS LAWSUIT, ”
to make it clear that class members must submit a claim form
in order to receive a settlement check, pursuant to this
court’s instructions at the preliminary approval
hearing. (Id. at 2; Workman Decl. in Support of
Pl.’s Mot. for Final Approval ¶ 7 (Docket No.
the court finds that the content of the notice was reasonably
certain to inform the class members of the terms of the
settlement agreement and the method used was the best form of
notice available under the circumstances. See
Fed.R.Civ.P. 23(c)(2)(B); see also Churchill Vill.,
L.L.C. v. Gen. Elec., 361 F.3d 566, 575 (9th Cir. 2004)
(“Notice is satisfactory if it ‘generally
describes the terms of the settlement in sufficient detail to
alert those with adverse viewpoints to investigate and to
come forward and be heard.’” (citation omitted)).
Rule 23(e): Fairness, Adequacy, and Reasonableness of
determined class treatment to be warranted, the court must
now determine whether the terms of the parties’
settlement appear fair, adequate, and reasonable.
See Fed.R.Civ.P. 23(e)(2); Hanlon, 150 F.3d
at 1026. This process ...