United States District Court, N.D. California
LATASHA MCLAUGHLIN, individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated, Plaintiff,
WELLS FARGO BANK, N.A., d/b/a WELLS FARGO HOME MORTGAGE, Defendant. Project Description Hours Historic Lodestar Description Expense
ORDER RE PLAINTIFF'S MOTIONS FOR FINAL APPROVAL
OF CLASS SETTLEMENT AND ATTORNEY'S FEES
WILLIAM ALSUP UNITED STATE DISTRICT JUDGE.
TILA class action, plaintiff moves for final approval of a
proposed settlement agreement and for attorney's fees.
The motion for final approval is Granted.
The motion for attorney's fees is Granted in
background of this case has been set forth in detail in a
prior order (Dkt. No. 123) and does not need to be repeated
here. In brief, plaintiff Latasha McLaughlin asserts class
claims against defendant Wells Fargo Bank, alleging that
defendant failed to provide accurate payoff statements as
required by the Truth in Lending Act.
proposed settlement follows over a year of contentious
litigation, including discovery and extensive motion
practice. To recap just the highlights: Class counsel
successfully opposed defendant's motion to dismiss and
subsequent motion for leave to seek reconsideration;
partially succeeded in opposing defendant's first motion
to stay; successfully certified two classes (one to pursue
damages and another to pursue declaratory relief); and
successfully opposed defendant's second motion to stay
(see Dkt. Nos. 36, 46, 89, 123, 138).
then moved unopposed for preliminary approval of the proposed
class settlement (Dkt. No. 151). That motion indicated that
class counsel would request up to $1.95 million in
attorney's fees, and that plaintiff would apply for an
incentive award of five thousand dollars. Neither the
attorney's fees nor the incentive award would diminish
the settlement fund; rather, defendant would separately pay
any amount awarded. A prior order granted preliminary
approval but advised that both the estimated attorney's
fees and incentive award requests were subject to reduction
at the final approval stage (Dkt. No. 158 at 3-4).
now moves for final approval of the proposed class settlement
(Dkt. No. 163) and for attorney's fees (Dkt. No. 166). In
the latter motion, plaintiff seeks $1.85 million in
attorney's fees, $43, 063.76 in costs, and an incentive
award in the amount of five thousand dollars. No class member
has objected to either motion (Dkt. No. 173 at 7). Defendant
opposes only plaintiff's request for attorney's fees
and costs; it does not oppose plaintiff's request for an
incentive award (Dkt. No. 169). This order follows full
briefing and oral argument.
Proposed Class Settlement.
may approve a proposed class settlement only upon finding
that it is fair, reasonable, and adequate, taking into
account (1) the strength of the plaintiff's case; (2) the
risk, expense, complexity, and likely duration of further
litigation; (3) the risk of maintaining class action status
throughout the trial; (4) the amount offered in settlement;
(5) the extent of discovery completed and the stage of the
proceedings; (6) the experience and view of counsel; (7) the
presence of a governmental participant; and (8) the reaction
of the class members to the proposed settlement. F.R.C.P.
23(e); In re Online DVD-Rental Antitrust Litig., 779
F.3d 934, 944 (9th Cir. 2015). Two of the factors are
inapplicable here because the classes are certified and there
is no governmental participant in this case.
stated, the parties negotiated this proposed class settlement
after a year plus of litigation, which included discovery,
extensive motion practice, and class certification. Plaintiff
has generally, albeit not unequivocally, prevailed in motion
practice thus far, but class counsel acknowledges several
risks associated with continuing this litigation. For
example, the case might not survive summary judgment or
prevail at trial. Even if it did, an appeal is all but
inevitable (indeed, defendant attempted to appeal twice prior
to this point), and there is no guarantee that said appeal
would be decided in plaintiff's favor.
proposed class settlement provides for a settlement fund of
$880, 000, representing 88 percent of the maximum monetary
recovery that would have been available under TILA had
plaintiff prevailed. See 15 U.S.C. 1640(a)(2)(B)
(limiting class recovery under TILA to “the lesser of
$1, 000, 000 or 1 per centum of the net worth of the
creditor”). This amount will not be diminished by, nor
is it contingent upon, any outcome of plaintiff's motion
for attorney's fees. Additionally, the proposed class
settlement requires defendant to implement a “practice
change” that reforms its payoff statements to comply
with TILA, resulting in further and prospective benefit to
class members. The release in the proposed class settlement
is tailored to the certified classes, releases only class
claims actually brought in this action, and does not bind any
class member whose notice was returned as undeliverable and
who could not be located with reasonable diligence. Class
counsel are experienced in consumer class action litigation
and believe this is an excellent result for class members.
And, as stated, no class member objected to the proposed
short, having considered the applicable factors, this order
finds the proposed class settlement is fair, reasonable, and
adequate so as to warrant final approval.
Attorney's Fees, Costs, ...