United States District Court, C.D. California
ORDER DENYING PETITIONERS' MOTION FOR MINORS'
COMPROMISE AND ATTORNEYS' FEES 
D. WRIGHT, II UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
before the Court is an unopposed Petition to Approve Minor
Plaintiffs' Compromise of Pending Action
(“Motion”). (ECF No. 77.) For the reasons that
follow, the Court DENIES without prejudice Petitioners'
Claimants, minor plaintiffs R.M., A.M., and B.M., maintain
claims for wrongful death of their mother, Noemi Montanez
Viscarra, who died on December 22, 2015. (Mot. 2.) Viscarra
died as a result of a series of events on Interstate 110
South. (Mot. 2.)
approximately 4:15am, Viscarra was on Interstate 110 South in
her Honda Accord on her way to work. (Mot. 3.) For reasons
unknown, Viscarra lost control of her vehicle about 300 feet
before the El Segunda Boulevard exit. (Mot. 3.) Her car ended
up perpendicular to the flow of traffic in the third lane.
(Mot. 3.) She exited her vehicle and stood next to it on her
cell phone. (Mot. 3.) Then, Luis Alonso Nunez, also
travelling southbound on Interstate 110, struck
Viscarra's vehicle. (Mot. 3.) As a result, Viscarra's
vehicle hit her and she fell into the fourth lane, which was
merging with the fifth lane. (Mot. 3.) Viscarra was injured
but still conscious and communicating regarding her injuries.
(Mot. 3.) Both of their vehicles occupied the third, fourth,
and fifth lanes. (Mot. 3.)
Jonathan Araujo was also traveling southbound on Interstate
110 in a United States Postal Service truck. (Mot. 3.)
Petitioners claim he must have seen the collision scene from
at least 540 feet away but he maintained his speed of 40
miles per hour and drove through the collision scene, running
over Viscarra, resulting in her death. (Mot. 3-4.)
was twenty-seven years old and is survived by her parents and
three minor children. (Mot. 2.)
Rule 17-1.2 mandates that “[n]o claim in any action
involving a minor or incompetent person shall be settled,
compromised, or dismissed without leave of the Court embodied
in an order, judgment, or decree.” C.D. Cal. L.R.
17-1.2. This rule reflects the general principle that
“the court in which a minor's claims are being
litigated has a duty to protect the minor's
interests.” Salmeron v. United States, 724
F.2d 1357, 1363 (9th Cir. 1983). Consequently, “a court
must independently investigate and evaluate any compromise or
settlement of a minor's claims to assure itself that the
minor's interests are protected, even if the settlement
has been recommended or negotiated by the minor's parent
or guardian ad litem.” Id. (internal citation
omitted); see also Robidoux v. Rosengren, 638 F.3d
1177, 1181 (9th Cir. 2011).
a federal court typically applies state law in determining
the fairness of a settlement of a minor's claim.
Robidoux, 638 F.3d at 1182. Under California law, a
court has “broad power . . . to authorize payment from
the settlement-to say who and what will be paid from the
minor's money-as well as direct certain individuals to
pay it.” Goldberg v. Superior Court, 23
Cal.App.4th 1378, 1382 (1994). For the Court to approve the
minors' settlement, Local Rule 17-1.3 requires that
“[i]nsofar as practicable, hearings on petitions to
settle, compromise, or dismiss a claim in an action involving
a minor or incompetent person shall conform to Cal. Civ.
Proc. Code § 372 and California Rule of Court
3.1384.” C.D. Cal. L.R. 17-1.3. California Rule of
Court 3.1384 indicates that a petition for compromise of a
minor's claim “must comply with [California Rules
of Court] 7.950, 7.951, and 7.952.” Cal. Rules of
Court, Rule 3.1384.
in cases involving the settlement of a minor's claim,
courts should “limit the scope of their review to the
question [of] 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, ” and should
“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.” Robidoux,
638 F.3d at 1181-82 (citing Dacanay v. Mendoza, 573
F.2d 1075, 1078 (9th Cir. 1978)). “So long as the net
recovery to each minor plaintiff is fair and reasonable in
light of their claims and average recovery in similar cases,
the district court should approve the settlement as proposed
by the parties.” Id. at 1182.
although a court need not consider the amount of
attorney's fees in determining whether a settlement is
fair and reasonable to a minor, a court must also approve the
amount of attorney's fees. C.D. Cal. L.R. 17-1.4
(“In all actions involving the claim of a minor . . .
whether resolved by settlement or judgment after trial, the
Court shall fix the amount of attorney's fees.”).
In all cases under California Code of Civil Procedure section
372, a court “must use a reasonable fee standard when
approving and allowing the amount of attorney's fees
payable from money or property paid or to be paid for the
benefit of a minor.” Cal. Rules of Court, Rule
7.955(a)(1). A court must also “give consideration to
the terms of any representation agreement made between the
attorney and the representative of the minor . . . and must
evaluate the agreement based on the facts and ...