United States District Court, S.D. California
LUIS JESUS LOBATON, an individual; HEDY JULCA, an individual; DIEGO STEVEN LOBATON, an individual; and “B.C., ” a minor, by and through his mother and guardian ad litem, Hedy Julca, Plaintiffs,
CITY OF SAN DIEGO, a municipal corporation; NATHAN PARGA, an individual; KELVIN LUJAN, an individual; SAM EULER, an individual; ALI BAKHSHI, an individual; and DOES 1 through 200, inclusive. Defendants.
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION RE: PETITION OF GUARDIAN
AD LITEM FOR COMPROMISE OF MINOR'S DISPUTED
CLAIM [ECF No. 42]
Jill L. Burkhardt United States Magistrate Judge
the Court is the ex parte petition of Hedy Julca,
mother and court-appointed guardian ad litem of
minor Plaintiff B.C., for approval of the compromise of
B.C.'s disputed claim. (ECF No. 42.) This Report and
Recommendation is submitted to United States District Judge
Gonzalo P. Curiel pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1) and
Local Civil Rule 17.1 of the United States District Court for
the Southern District of California. For the reasons
discussed below, the Court recommends that the District Court
GRANT the Petition.
B.C. is a minor appearing by and through his mother and
court-appointed guardian ad litem Hedy Julca.
(See ECF No. 8.) The operative complaint alleges
that Plaintiff B.C. suffered serious emotional distress when
several San Diego Police Officers forcefully entered the
mobile-telephone store in which Plaintiff and his family were
living and physically assaulted and injured Plaintiff's
mother and her adult son, Luis Lobaton. (ECF No. 3 at 29-31.)
Plaintiff, approximately three feet from the physical
confrontation, witnessed the assault upon his mother and
brother and their being led out of the store in handcuffs.
(Id.) The incident occurred on July 29, 2014, and
lasted approximately ninety seconds. (ECF No. 49 at 2.)
Plaintiff was three years old at the time. (Id.)
weeks that followed the incident, Plaintiff became more
dependent on his mother and less verbally expressive.
(Id. at 3.) He also expressed a fear of the police.
(Id.) Because of these behavioral changes,
Plaintiff's mother sought emotional counseling for
Plaintiff. (Id.) In total, Plaintiff attended 27
one-hour counseling sessions over a period of ten months.
(Id.) His counseling sessions concluded when his
behavioral symptoms resolved and his counselor recommended no
further treatment. (Id.) Plaintiff is now five years
old, and he behaves and expresses himself at an
age-appropriate level. (Id. at 3, 10.)
commenced the instant action on June 26, 2015. (ECF No. 1.)
The parties reached a settlement agreement at a settlement
conference before Magistrate Judge Louisa S Porter on
December 8, 2016. (ECF No. 34.) On April 25, 2017,
Plaintiff's guardian ad litem filed the instant
Petition setting forth the terms of the settlement and the
intended distribution of the settlement proceeds. (ECF No.
42.) At the request of the Court, on May 23, 2017,
Plaintiff's guardian ad litem filed a
supplemental brief in support of the Petition. (ECF No. 49.)
Court's Local Civil Rule 17.1 addresses settlements for
minors and provides in pertinent part:
Order or Judgment Required.
No action by or on behalf of a minor or incompetent, or in
which a minor or incompetent has an interest, will be
settled, compromised, voluntarily discontinued, dismissed or
terminated without court order or judgment. All settlements
and compromises must be reviewed by a magistrate judge before
any order of approval will issue. The parties may, with
district judge approval consent to magistrate judge
jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 636(c) for entry of an
order approving the entire settlement or compromise.
courts have a special duty, derived from Federal Rule of
Civil Procedure 17(c), to safeguard the interests of
litigants who are minors.” Robidoux v.
Rosengren, 638 F.3d 1177, 1181 (9th Cir. 2011). Rule
17(c) provides that a district court “must appoint a
guardian ad litem-or issue another appropriate
order-to protect a minor or incompetent person who is
unrepresented in an action.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 17(c).
“In the context of proposed settlements in suits
involving minor plaintiffs, this special duty requires a
district court to ‘conduct its own inquiry to determine
whether the settlement serves the best interests of the
minor.'” Id. (quoting Dacanay v.
Mendoza, 573 F.2d 1075, 1080 (9th Cir. 1978)); see
also Salmeron v. United States, 724 F.2d 1357, 1363 (9th
Cir. 1983) (“[A] court must independently investigate
and evaluate any compromise or settlement of a minor's
claims to assure itself that the minor's interest are
protected, even if the settlement has been recommended or
negotiated by the minor's parent or guardian ad
Ninth Circuit in Robidoux v. Rosengren established
that district courts reviewing the settlement of a
minor's claim should “limit the scope of their
review to the question whether the net amount distributed to
each minor plaintiff in the settlement is fair and
reasonable, in light of the facts of the case, the
minor's specific claim, and recovery in similar
cases.” 638 F.3d at 1181-82. They should also
“evaluate the fairness of each minor plaintiff's
net recovery without regard to the proportion of the total
settlement value designated for adult co-plaintiffs or
plaintiffs' counsel-whose interests the district court
has no special duty to safeguard.” Id. at 1182
(citing Dacanay, 573 F.2d at 1078).
however, expressly limited its holding to cases involving the
settlement of a minor's federal claims, noting that it
did “not express a view on the proper approach for a
federal court to use when sitting in diversity and approving
the settlement of a minor's state law claims.”
Id. at 1179 n.2. Nevertheless, some district courts
have found the Robidoux rule reasonable in the
context of state law claims and have applied the rule to
evaluate the propriety of a settlement of a minor's state
law claims as well. Frary v. Cty. of Marin, No.
12-cv-03928-MEJ, 2015 WL 575818, at *2 (N.D. Cal. Feb. 10,
2015); see also Mitchell v. Riverstone Residential
Grp., No. Civ. S-11-2202 LKK/CKD, 2013 WL 1690641, at *1
(E.D. Cal. Apr. 17, 2013) (collecting cases). Other district
courts have ...