United States District Court, E.D. California
E.R., a minor, by and through his Guardian ad Litem, CAROLYN YOUNG, Plaintiff,
SUTTER DAVIS HOSPITAL; SUTTER WEST WOMEN'S HEALTH; SUSAN MAAYAH, M.D.; Defendants. And Related Third-Party Claims.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER RE: MOTION FOR DETERMINATION OF
GOOD FAITH SETTLEMENT AND PETITION TO APPROVE MINOR'S
WILLIAM B. SHUBB UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
E.R., by and through his guardian ad litem, Carolyn Young,
brought this action, alleging defendants Sutter Davis
Hospital (“Sutter Davis”), Sutter Medical Group,
Dr.Susan Maayah were negligent during E.R.'s birth.
(Docket No. 1-1.) Plaintiff and Sutter Davis reached a
settlement in the amount of $875, 000 and now separately move
for a determination that 1) the settlement was made in good
faith pursuant to California Code of Civil Procedure §
877.6 (Docket No. 78); and 2) the proposed compromise of a
disputed claim of a minor was proper under applicable law
(Docket No. 89). No opposition has been filed in response to
Sutter Davis's motion for determination of good faith
settlement. No opposition has been filed in response to
guardian ad litem Carolyn Young's petition for approval
of minor's compromise with the exception of defendants
Sutter Medical Group's and Dr. Maayah's objection to
the payment of $79, 500 in connection with nine retained
experts. The court held a hearing on the motion and petition
on March 6, 2017.
court finds that the settlement was made in good faith based
on the factors announced in Tech-Bilt, Inc. v. Woodward-Clyde
& Associates, 38 Cal.3d 488, 500-01 (1985) (holding that
a court should consider, inter alia, the rough approximation
of plaintiff's total recovery and the settling
party's proportionate liability, the amount of the
settlement, and the existence of collusion, fraud or tortious
conduct aimed to injure the nonsettling party's
interests). See Fed. Sav. & Loan Ins. Corp. v. Butler,
904 F.2d 505, 511 (9th Cir. 1990) (settling party may seek a
determination that a settlement was made in good faith under
Cal. Code of Civ. Proc. § 877.6 in federal court).
the evidence supporting an approximately $2.3 million total
damages calculation, the evidence supporting Sutter
Davis's contention that its nurses were not negligent,
and the possibility that even assuming Sutter Davis was found
liable, the non-settling defendants could be held liable for
a substantial portion of any recovery at trial, the $875, 000
settlement is “within the reasonable range of the
settling tortfeasor's proportional share of comparative
liability for plaintiff's injuries.” See Tech-Bilt,
38 Cal.3d at 499.
there is no suggestion of collusion or fraud. The fact that
plaintiff is willing to accept a settlement amount less than
what Sutter Davis might ultimately have been required to pay
suggests that it is in the range of appropriate settlement
amounts. Additionally, under California Code of Civil
Procedure § 877, any party challenging a settlement
bears the burden of establishing that the proposed settlement
amount is “so far ‘out of the ballpark' that
the equitable objectives of § 877 are not
satisfied.” Tyco Thermal Controls LLC v. Redwood
Indus., No. C 06-07164, 2010 WL 3211926, at *13 (N.D. Cal.
Aug. 12, 2010) (citing Tech-Bilt, 38 Cal.3d at 499-500). No
party here has even attempted to make such a showing.
the court considers whether any party properly objected to a
motion for determination of good faith settlement. Under
section 877.6(a)(2), “[i]f none of the nonsettling
parties files a motion within 25 days of mailing of the
notice, application, and proposed order, or within 20 days of
personal service, the court may approve the
settlement.” Non-settling defendants Sutter Medical
Group and Dr. Maayah received notice of the settlement, did
not file any response to Sutter Davis's motion, and do
not contend that the settlement was not made in good faith.
light of the above factors, the settlement between plaintiff
and Sutter Davis Hospital was made in good faith pursuant to
section 877.6, and the court will grant Sutter Davis's
motion for determination of good faith settlement.
Minor's Compromise The court is familiar with the
allegations in this case, including the undisputed severe and
permanent neurological injury suffered by plaintiff, as well
as Sutter Davis's continued claim that its nurses
complied with the applicable standard of care and that
nothing the nurses did contributed to plaintiff's injury,
and the parties' damages estimates. The settlement is for
a substantial sum of $875, 000, and the court is not certain
that plaintiff would recover that amount against Sutter Davis
if the case proceeded to trial, in light of the evidence
supporting a finding of no liability, though plaintiff has
produced contrary evidence supporting his position. Moreover,
proper notice of the settlement has been given to all
the settlement will result in the payment of $175, 198 in
attorney's fees to plaintiff's counsel, it “has
been the practice in the Eastern District of California to
consider 25% of the recovery as the benchmark for
attorney's fees in contingency cases involving
minors.” See Chance v. Prudential Ins. Co. of Am., No.
1:15-cv-1889-DAD-JLT, 2016 WL 3538345, at *3 (E.D. Cal. June
29, 2016) (compiling cases). Thus, the portion of the total
settlement allocated to attorney's fees, which is below
the 25% benchmark, is reasonable under the circumstances.
on all of these considerations, the court finds that the
settlement is fair and reasonable and in the best interests
of the minor child. See E.D. Cal. L.R. 202(b); see also
Robidoux v. Rosengren, 638 F.3d 1177, 1179 (9th Cir. 2011)
Accordingly, the court will approve the settlement of
plaintiff's claims against defendant Sutter Davis and
will grant Carolyn Young's petition for approval of
THEREFORE ORDERED that Sutter Davis Hospital's motion for
determination of good faith settlement (Docket No. 78) be,
and the same hereby is, GRANTED.
FURTHER ORDERED that the settlement bars any claims for
contribution or indemnity by co-defendants Sutter Medical
Group or Dr. Susan Maayah or any other joint tortfeasor or
co-obligor against Sutter Davis Hospital.
FURTHER ORDERED that Carolyn Young's petition for
approval of minor's compromise (Docket No. 89) ...