United States District Court, N.D. California
ORDER GRANTING APPLICATION FOR GOOD FAITH SETTLEMENT
DETERMINATION RE: DKT. NO. 110
R. LLOYD United States Magistrate Judge
Tarob M&C Investors, LLC (“Tarob”) and
Defendants William Herbert, as trustee of the Herbert Family
Living Trust (“Herbert”), and Boowhan
Corporation, dba Norge Village (“Boowhan”)
(collectively, “Defendants”) have settled the
claims between them and apply to the court for an order
determining that their settlement was made in good faith
pursuant to California Code of Civil Procedure Section 877.6.
For the reasons described below, the court grants the motion
for a good faith settlement determination.
purchased property on Palo Alto's California Avenue in
2011. Dkt. No. 45, ¶¶ 9, 10. Next door, Herbert
owns property that is currently leased to Boowhan, which is
operating a drycleaner on that location. Id., ¶
11. Herbert and Boowhan's predecessors operated
drycleaning establishments, as well. Id., ¶ 15.
alleges that the drycleaners have used hazardous substances
that contaminated the soil under both properties and claims
that it incurred costs related to testing the soil and
remediating the contamination. Id., ¶¶ 15,
19. Tarob's Second Amended Complaint alleges claims under
the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and
Liability Act (“CERCLA”) and the California
Hazardous Substance Account Act (“HSAA”); as well
as claims for trespass, nuisance, and negligence. Dkt. No.
45. Defendants deny that there is contamination and argue
that their own testing revealed their compliance with
applicable standards. Dkt. No. 110, Till Decl., ¶ 9.
Defendants also counterclaimed against Tarob for, inter
alia, contribution, trespass, abatement of a private
nuisance, negligence, and breach of contract. Dkt. No. 49.
Finally, Defendants have filed a third-party complaint
alleging numerous claims against various third-party
defendants, each of whom were past owners or operators of the
drycleaning establishment. Dkt. No. 60. Only two third-party
defendants, Michael and Diane Teehan, have filed answers.
Dkt. No. 74.
January 2016, Plaintiff and Defendants informed the court
that they had agreed on a settlement. Dkt. No. 107. One month
later, Defendants filed an ex parte application for a good
faith settlement determination pursuant to California Code of
Civil Procedure Section 877.6. Dkt. No. 110. Defendants
served the application upon potentially interested
non-parties, and none of the non-parties (and no parties to
this action) filed objections. Dkt. No. 113.
courts may decide motions requesting early determinations of
whether settlement agreements are made in good faith.
Fed. Sav. & Loan Ins. Corp. v. Butler, 904 F.3d
505, 511 (9th Cir. 1990). California law bars tortfeasors who
have been released in good faith before a verdict from all
liability for contribution to other joint tortfeasors claimed
to be liable for the same tort. Cal. Civ. Proc. Code §
877; Schaeffer v. Gregory Village Partners, L.P.,
No. 13-cv-04358-JST, 2015 WL 5316357, at *2 (N.D. Cal. Sep.
11, 2015). To protect joint tortfeasors who are not parties
to a settlement involving such a release, the court must
determine that the settlement agreement has been entered in
good faith before it can become final. Cal. Civ. Proc. Code
§ 877.6. “When a settlement is determined to have
been made in good faith, further negligence-based equitable
contribution or comparative indemnity claims against settling
parties are barred ‘so long as the other tortfeasors
were given notice and an opportunity to be heard.'”
PAG-Daly City, LLC v. Quality Auto Locators, Inc.,
No. C 12-3907 WHA, 2014 WL 807415, at *1 (N.D. Cal. Feb. 27,
2014) (quoting Gackstetter v. Frawley, 135 Cal.App.
4th 1257, 1273 (2006)).
determining whether a settlement is made in good faith
pursuant to Section 877.6, the court weighs the factors
described in Tech-Bilt, Inc. v. Woodward-Clyde &
Associates; however, if “no party objects to the
proposed settlement, the court may bypass the
Tech-Bilt factors and enter a finding of good faith
when presented merely with ‘the barebones motion which
sets forth the ground of good faith, accompanied by a
declaration which sets forth a brief background of the
case.'” Schaeffer, 2015 WL 5316357, at *2
(quoting City of Grand Terrace v. Superior Court of San
Bernadino Cnty., 192 Cal.App.3d 1251, 1261 (1987));
PAG-Daly City, LLC, 2014 WL 807415, at *1-2.
court has reviewed the application and the supporting
declaration. The only non-settling parties to this
litigation, third-party defendants Michael Teehan and Diane
Teehan, received electronic notice of the application upon
its filing. Moving defendants further provided notice via
certified mail to three non-parties. More than 25 days have
passed since the mailing of the notice, and no parties or
non-parties have objected to the application. Because the
motion is uncontested, it is unnecessary to weigh the
Tech-Bilt factors. The application is therefore
reasons explained above, the court grants the unopposed
motion for determination of good faith settlement. As a
result, pursuant to California Code of Civil Procedure
section 877.6(c), the parties to the settlement are entitled
to contribution protection from all parties to this action
and all non-parties who received constitutionally sufficient
notice (including the non-appearing third-party defendants,
who were served with the third-party complaint and thus
“brought into the litigation” prior to the
settlement, see Singer Co. v. Superior Court, 179
Cal.App.3d 875 (1986)). See City of Emeryville v.
Robinson,621 F.3d 1251, 1265-66 (9th Cir. 2010);