United States District Court, E.D. California
AMENDED FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS GRANTING
APPROVAL OF THE COMPROMISE ON BEHALF OF MINOR PLAINTIFF J.S.
(Doc. 248) ORDER VACATING THE HEARING DATE
JENNIFER L. THURSTON UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
matter arises out of the death of David Silva which, it is
claimed, was caused by the application of excessive and
unreasonable use of force by various law enforcement
officers. J.S. is a surviving child of the decedent. She
seeks approval of the settlement reached with Defendants, by
and through her mother/guardian ad litem Adriane Dominguez.
(Doc. 248) For the following reasons, the Court recommends
the motion for approval of the settlement be
Factual and Procedural History
plaintiff initiated this action, alleging Defendants are
responsible for the wrongful death of David Silva, who was
the boyfriend of Plaintiff Tara Garlick, the father of the
minor plaintiffs, and the son of Plaintiffs Merri and
Salvador Silva. (See generally Docs. 2, 78) The
plaintiffs asserted eleven causes of action in the Second
Amended Complaint: (1) unlawful arrest/detention in violation
of the Fourth Amendment; (2) excessive force in violation of
the Fourth Amendment; (3) denial of medical care in violation
of the Fourth Amendment; (4) a violation of substantive due
process; (5) municipal liability under 42 U.S.C. § 1983;
(6) civil conspiracy-interference with civil rights; (7)
civil conspiracy-witness intimidation, spoliation of
evidence, obstruction of justice; (8) false arrest/false
imprisonment; failure to train; (9) battery (wrongful death);
(10) negligence (wrongful death); and (11) a violation of the
Bane Act, Cal. Civ. Code § 52.1.
Settlement Approval Standards
settlement or compromise of “a claim by or against a
minor or incompetent person” is effective unless it is
approved by the Court. Local Rule 202(b). The purpose of
requiring the Court’s approval is to provide an
additional level of oversight to ensure that the
child’s interests are protected. Toward this end, a
party seeking approval of the settlement must disclose:
the age and sex of the minor, the nature of the causes of
action to be settled or compromised, the facts and
circumstances out of which the causes of action arose,
including the time, place and persons involved, the manner in
which the compromise amount . . . was determined, including
such additional information as may be required to enable the
Court to determine the fairness of the settlement or
compromise, and, if a personal injury claim, the nature and
extent of the injury with sufficient particularity to inform
the Court whether the injury is temporary or permanent.
Local Rule 202(b)(2).
Ninth Circuit determined that Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
17(c) imposes on the Court the responsibility to safeguard
the interests of child-litigants. Robidoux v.
Rosengren, 638 F.3d 1177, 1181 (9th Cir. 2011). Thus,
the Court is obligated to independently investigate the
fairness of the settlement even where the parent has
recommended it. Id., at 1181; see also Salmeron
v. United States, 724 F.2d 1357, 1363 (9th Cir. 1983)
(holding that “a court must independently investigate
and evaluate any compromise or settlement of a minor’s
claims to assure itself that the minor’s interests are
protected, even if the settlement has been recommended or
negotiated by the minor’s parent or guardian ad
litem”). Rather than focusing on the amount of fees to
be awarded, the Court must evaluate whether the net amount to
the child is fair and reasonable “without regard to the
proportion of the total settlement value designated for adult
co-plaintiffs or plaintiffs’ counsel” and
“in light of the facts of the case, the minor’s
specific claim, and recovery in similar cases.”
Robidoux, 638 F.3d at 1181-1182.
Discussion and Analysis
petition for approval of the settlement reached on behalf of
the child J.S. sets forth the information required by Local
Rule 202(b)(2). J.S. is 15 years old. (Doc. 248-1 at 2) J.S.
resides with her mother. (Id.) Ms. Dominguez asserts
that the child’s damages arise from the death of her
father and the resulting loss of the paternal relationship.
(Doc. 248-1 at 2) The Defendants have agreed to pay J.S.
$180, 000. Id.
Award to J.S.
settlement funds will be paid by the County of Kern, in the
amount of $158, 400 and the State of California, in the
amount of $21, 600. (Doc. 248-1 at 2) After the payment of
the proposed attorney fees and costs, the child will receive
$132, 000 from the settlement. (Doc. 248-1 at 2) The money
will be deposited in an interest-bearing blocked trust
account at an FDIC insured banking institution for the
child’s benefit. Id. at 2-3. However, at the
time of payment, $10, 793.98 will be paid immediately to Ms.
Dominguez to provide her daughter a laptop, ballet lessons
and to pay for orthodontia services. Id. at 3.