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Felix v. WM. Bolthouse Farms, Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. California

September 13, 2019

ERIC FELIX, an individual, on behalf of himself and others similarly situated, Plaintiff,
v.
WM. BOLTHOUSE FARMS, INC., Defendant.

          ORDER AFTER NOTICE OF CLASS SETTLEMENT

          JENNIFER L. THURSTON UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         On September 10, 2019, the parties filed a “Joint Notice of Settlement.” (Doc. 23) The parties informed the Court that they were “in the process of negotiating a long-form settlement agreement, ” and “Plaintiff anticipates filing a motion for preliminary approval of class action settlement within 30 to 60 days.” (Id. at 3)

         Motions for preliminary and final approval of the class settlement must include information for the court to “determine whether the proposed settlement is fundamentally fair, adequate, and reasonable.” See Staton v. Boeing Co., 327 F.3d 938, 952 (9th Cir. 2003); see also Fed. R. Civ. P. 23(e)(2). The Ninth Circuit identified several factors to determine whether a proposed settlement agreement meets these standards, including:

the strength of plaintiff's case; the risk, expense, complexity, and likely duration of further litigation; the risk of maintaining class action status throughout the trial; the amount offered in settlement; the extent of discovery completed, and the stage of the proceedings; the experience and views of counsel; the presence of a governmental participant; and the reaction of the class members to the proposed settlement.

Staton, 327 F.3d at 959 (citation omitted). The parties are informed that each of these factors will be considered by the Court in reviewing the proposed settlement terms. Failure to address these factors may delay resolution of the action or result in the denial approval being denied.

         PRELIMINARY APPROVAL

         A. Litigation and Settlement Class Definitions

         As an initial matter, parties seeking preliminary approval should address whether the Court certified a litigation class. If a litigation class was certified, the parties should address identify any differences between the class defined by the Court and the proposed settlement class.

         If a class was not certified, the parties must address whether the proposed settlement class satisfies the requirements of Rule 23 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, including:

(1) the class is so numerous that joinder of all members is impracticable; (2) there are questions of law or fact common to the class; (3) the claims or defenses of the representative parties are typical of the claims or defenses of the class; and (4) the representative parties will fairly and adequately protect the interests of the class.

Fed. R. Civ. P. 23(a). Further, the parties must demonstrate the proposed class is maintainable under one or more of the three alternatives set forth in Rule 23(b). Narouz v. Charter Communs., LLC, 591 F.3d 1261, 1266 (9th Cir. 2010)

         B. Settlement Administration

         The parties should identify the proposed settlement administrator and the anticipated duties of the settlement administrator. The parties should also identify the anticipated administration cost, the reasonableness of these costs, and who will be responsible if the claims administration costs exceed the amount preliminarily approved. Prior to the hearing for final approval, the settlement administrator shall file a declaration of due diligence, setting forth its compliance with its obligations under the settlement agreement, and addressing the costs incurred.

         C. ...


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