United States District Court, E.D. California
SHAWN J. PAREGIEN, et al., Plaintiffs,
WILSHIRE INSURANCE COMPANY, Defendant.
FINDINGS & RECOMMENDATION TO APPROVE MINORS'
COMPROMISE AS TO P.S.P BUT TO FIND IT MOOT AS TO S.J.P. (Doc.
62) ORDER DENYING REQUEST FOR STATUS
CONFERENCE (Doc. 63)
JENNIFER L. THURSTON, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
and P.S.P appeared in this proceeding by and through their
guardians ad litem who seek approval of the minor's
compromise in this action. (Doc. 62). Notably, however,
during the pendency of this action, S.J.P. achieved the age
or majority and at the time of the filing of this petition,
had and has the capacity to compromise his own
claim. (Doc. 62-3 at 2) For this reason and those
set forth below, the Court recommends the motion as to S.J.P.
be GRANTED but the petition of S.J.P. be found to be MOOT.
action involves a car collision in which the children's
mother and grandmother were killed. They initiated this
action against the company that insured the driver--who
caused the collision-and his employer, to recover the damages
awarded in the underlying lawsuit. (Doc. 1) At the time the
action was initiated, the Kern County Superior Court had
appointed S.J.P. and P.S.P. guardians ad litem and the
underlying lawsuit in that court had be completed. (Docs. 53,
54) Because the guardians ad litem sought appointment in this
Court and did not report that they had already been appointed
in State court, the Court here appointed the guardians also.
February 26, 2017, S.J.P. turned 18. (Doc. 62-3 at 2) Thus,
he is no longer a minor under California law (Cal. Fam. Code
§ 6502(a)(2)) and has the capacity to compromise his own
claim. Thus, the Court RECOMMENDS the petition as to S.J.P.
to be found to be MOOT.
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).
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); See Friends for All Children, Inc. v.
Lockheed Aircraft Corp., 567 F.Supp. 790, 812-813
(D.D.C.1983. Thus, the Court is obligated to independently
investigate the fairness of the settlement even where the
parent has recommended it. Robidoux, at 1181.
Moreover, rather than focusing on the amount of fees to be
awarded, the Court is to 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.” Id. at
1181-1182. The Court is obligated to consider the child's
specific claim and other awards in similar cases to determine
whether the settlement amount is reasonable. Id.
Discussion and Analysis
petition in this case sets forth the information that is
required. P.S.P. is six years old (Doc. 62-5 at 2) Through
her guardian ad litem, she was awarded half of the judgment
issued in the state court which equals $8, 119, 971.65. (Doc.
62-5) In this action, she sought to recover this damage award
from the company that insured the tortfeasors. (Doc. 1)
settlement of this action, the defendant, Wilshire Insurance
Company agreed to pay $7, 075, 000 in addition to the payment
of $953, 559.21 previously paid. (Doc. 62-5 at 4) Out of
the child's funds, her attorney will be reimbursed $12,
913.22 in costs and $2, 358, 333.33 in fees. (Doc. 62-5 at 7) In
addition, the child's adoptive parents seek “child
support” in the amount of $1, 000 per month until the
child reaches 18 years old, which equates to $139, 000.
petition was first presented to the Kern County Superior
Court (Doc. 62), as required by Local Rule 202(b)(1). That
court approved the petition (Doc. 62-6) and established the
Paregien Qualified Settlement Fund and appointed an
administrator of the Fund. (Doc. 62-1 at 2-3) The Kern County
Superior Court ordered the bulk of the remaining settlement
amount, $4.5 million, to be deposited in the Fund and the
remaining $64, ...