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Aleshna Kumari v. County of Sacramento

United States District Court, E.D. California

September 10, 2019

ALESHNA KUMARI, A.K., A.S., and A.K.M., inclusive, Plaintiffs,
v.
COUNTY OF SACRAMENTO; JESSE GOMEZ-COATES, an individual, JANELLE GONZALEZ, an individual, LEONA WILLIAMS, an individual, and DOES 1-40 inclusive, Defendants.

          ORDER APPROVING MINOR'S COMPROMISE

          WILLIAM B. SHUBB UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiffs, three minor children and their mother Aleshna Kumari, filed this lawsuit against the County of Sacramento, as well as against Jesse Gomez-Coates, Janelle Gonzalez, and Leona Williams, who are employed by Sacramento County Child Protective Services. Plaintiffs allege violations of their constitutional rights as well as the California Government Code sections pertaining to breach of mandatory duty. Hardip Singh was appointed as guardian ad litem for A.S., A.K., and A.K.M.. (Docket No. 15.) Presently before the court is Hardip Singh's Petition for Approval of Minor's Compromise. (Docket No. 33.) The court held a hearing on this petition on September 9, 2019.

         Under the 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 “information as may be required to enable the [c]ourt 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) (stating that district courts have a duty “to safeguard the interests of minor plaintiffs” that requires them to “determine whether the net amount distributed to each minor plaintiff in the proposed settlement is fair and reasonable[.]”).

         In Robidoux, the Ninth Circuit specifically instructed district courts to “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. 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, No. 12-cv-3928-MEJ, 2015 WL 575818, at *2 (N.D. Cal. Feb. 10, 2015).

         Under the proposed settlement, reached through private mediation, the plaintiffs will receive $15, 000. That amount will be allocated between the parties as follows:

A.K. $2, 500
A.K.M. $5, 000
A.S. $2, 500
Aleshna Kumari $5, 000

(Choudhary Decl. ¶ 4 (Docket No. 33-2).) From this sum, $1, 405.83 will be deducted for attorneys' costs. (Pet. For Approval of Minor's Compromise ¶ 14.) This amount will be allocated equally across all four plaintiffs. (Id.)

         $2, 500 in attorneys' fees will also be deducted from the settlement and allocated as follows:

A.K. $625 in attorneys' fees
A.K.M. $1, 250 in attorneys' ...

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