United States District Court, E.D. California
TYESHINA SYKES, an individual; and J.S., by and through her guardian ad litem JOHNNY NASH, in individual, Plaintiffs,
DONALD JAMES SHEA, in individual; KUNKEL TRUCK LINES, INC., a South Dakota Corporation; and DOES 1-30, Defendants.
ORDER RE: MOTION TO APPROVE MINOR'S
WILLIAM B. SHUBB UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Sykes (“Sykes”) initiated this action on behalf
of herself and J.S., a minor, against defendants Donald James
Shea (“Shea”) and Kunkel Trucking, Inc.
(“Kunkel”) alleging negligence based personal
injury claims related to a motor vehicle collision involving
a truck driven by Shea and owned by Kunkel. Johnny Nash was
appointed as guardian ad litem for J.S. Presently before the
court is J.S.'s petition for approval of minor's
compromise. (Docket No. 61.)
Eastern District of California's Local Rules, the court
must approve the settlement of the claims of a minor. E.D.
Cal. L.R. 202(b). The party moving for approval of the
settlement must provide the court “such . . .
information as may be required to enable the Court to
determine the fairness of the settlement or
compromise.” Id. at L.R. 202(b)(2); see
also Robidoux v. Rosengren, 638 F.3d 1177, 1179
(9th Cir. 2011) (district court has a duty “to
safeguard the interests of minor plaintiffs” that
requires it to “determine whether the net amount
distributed to each minor plaintiff in the proposed
settlement is fair and reasonable”).
Robidoux, the Ninth Circuit specifically instructed district
courts to “limit the scope of their review to the
question whether the net amount distributed to [a] 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. Although
the Robidoux court expressly limited its holding to a
minor's federal claims, 638 F.3d at 1179 n.2, district
courts have also applied this rule in the context of a
minor's state law claims. See, e.g., Frary v. County
of Marin, Civ. No. 12-3928-MEJ, 2015 WL 575818, at *2
(N.D. Cal. Feb. 10, 2015).
Local Rules require that in actions in which the minor is
represented by an appointed representative pursuant to state
law, the settlement must first be approved by the state court
having jurisdiction over the personal representative. E.D.
Cal. Local R. 202(b)(1). Here, the court notes that the
Settlement Agreement at issue was first approved by the
Honorable Judge Russell L. Hom of the Sacramento Superior
Court. (See Mot. for Approval (Docket No. 61) at 2.) To
require evaluation of the same Settlement Agreement under two
different standards strikes this court as both unfair and
likely to result in incongruous results. Primerica Life
Ins. Co. v. Cassie, Civ. No. 2:12-1570 WBS, 2013 WL
1705033, at *1 (E.D. Cal. Apr. 19, 2013). Additionally,
defendants did not submit an opposition at the hearing before
the Sacramento Superior Court, nor have they opposed this
settlement will result in the payment of $87, 500 to J.S.
J.S.' attorneys intend to take 25%, or $21, 875.00, of
J.S.' settlement as payment for their services. 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., Civ. No. 1:15-1889-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 in this
case 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, 638 F.3d at 1179. Accordingly, the court will
approve the settlement of J.S.' claims against defendants
and will grant the petition for approval of minor's
THEREFORE ORDERED that plaintiff's Motion to Approve
Minor's Compromise (Docket No. 61) be, and the same
hereby is, GRANTED.
FURTHER ORDERED that:
gross amount or value of the settlement or judgment in favor
of plaintiff J.S. is $87, 500.00
and expenses shall be paid by one or more checks or drafts,
drawn payable to the order of plaintiff's guardian ad
litem Johnny Nash and plaintiffs' attorney, if any, or
directly to third parties entitled to receive payment
identified in this order for the following items of expenses
or damages, which are hereby authorized to be paid out of the
proceeds of the settlement or judgment:
(a) Attorney's fees in the total amount of $21, 875.00
payable to Banafsheh, Danesh, and Javid, P.C.;
(b) Reimbursement in the amount of $24, 275.90 for necessary
costs incurred in the prosecution of this matter payable to
Banafsheh, Danesh, and Javid, P.C.;
(c) Medical, hospital, ambulance, nursing and other expenses
in the amount of $565.98 payable to Department of ...