CALIFORNIA CLASS ACTION LAW

Tag: Judicial Branch

Magistrate Judge Donna Ryu Approves Petition for Attorneys Fees of $287,589 From a $359,000 Total Settlement Fund

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United States Magistrate Judge Donna M. Ryu of the Northern District of California granted a petition for attorneys fees and costs in a FDCPA class action of up to $23,539.31 in costs and up to $287,589.25 in attorneys’ fees from a $359,000 total settlement fund.  Hunt v. Imperial Merchant Services, No. C-05-04993 DMR, 2010 WL 3958726, *1 (N.D. Cal. Oct. 7, 2010) (slip op.).

Plaintiffs filed a consolidated class action against Defendant Imperial Merchant Services, Inc., doing business as Check Recovery Systems (“IMS”), for violating the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”), 15 U.S.C. section 1692 et seq. Id. *1. Plaintiffs claimed that IMS’ practice of demanding 10% interest, in addition to a statutory service charge for dishonored checks, was not permitted by California law and was unlawful under the FDCPA. Id.

Plaintiffs obtained class certification, and the parties reached a class-wide settlement, which generated a $359,000 total settlement fund.  Id. Specifically, the settlement funds are to be used first to pay class notice costs incurred by Plaintiffs’ counsel as well as expenses for administering the class settlement.  Id. Next, the two class representatives will receive $2,000 each, and qualifying class members will be entitled to a pro rata share of the $100,000 Damages Class Fund, up to 100% of an individual class members’ damages. Id. The settlement funds are then be used to pay attorneys’ fees and expenses.  Id. And any remaining settlement funds are to be distributed to designated cy pres recipients. Id. Subject to the terms of the above plan of distribution, the court granted the motion for reimbursement of up to $287,589.25 in attorneys’ fees.  Id.

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Northern District Denies Class Certification, After Sustaining Objections to a Declaration Designed to Evade a Local Rule on Page Limits

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The United States District Court for the Northern District of California denied a motion for class certification for evading the page limit on briefing by relying on 11 pages of argument crammed into a supporting declaration.  Juarez v. Jani-King Of California, Inc., No. 09-3495 SC, 2010 WL 3766649 (N.D. Cal. Sept. 24, 2010).  Plaintiffs brought a putative class action arising out of the sale of franchises by Defendants Jani-King of California, Inc., Jani-King, Inc., and Jani-King International, Inc.  Id. *1.  Plaintiffs petitioned the Court for leave to file a brief exceeding Northern District of California’s Civil Local Rule 7-4(b)’s twenty-five-page limit, but the court denied the request. Id.

Plaintiffs filed their Motion to Certify, as well as sixty exhibits totaling more than four thousand pages in support of the Motion.  Id. Defendants filed objections to an eleven-page section of a declaration that Plaintiffs filed in support of their Motion.  Id.

The Statement of Facts in Plaintiffs’ motion cited almost exclusively to seventy-six paragraphs in this declaration.  Id. And in turn, these paragraphs cited to the evidence supporting the Motion.  The court gave the following example from the motion and declaration: Read the rest of this entry »

Ninth Circuit Affirms Dismissal of Individual Claims Where Plaintiff Received an Offer of Judgment for More Than Amount He Was Entitled to Recover

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The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed a dismissal of individual claims in a class action for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, were the named plaintiff received an offer of judgment for more than he was entitled to recover.  Marschall v. Recovery Solution Specialists, Inc., No. 08-55247, 2010 WL 3937992 (9th Cir. Oct. 5, 2010) (slip op.).

Plaintiff Carl N. Marschall appealed pro se from a district court’s judgment dismissing his action brought under the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”) and the California Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“Rosenthal Act”).  Id. *1.  Reviewing de novo, the Ninth Circuit found that the district court properly dismissed Marschall’s individual claims against Recovery Solution Specialists, Inc. (“RSS”) for lack of subject matter jurisdiction because RSS’s offer of judgment was for more than Marschall was legally entitled to recover. Id. (citing 15 U.S.C. § 1692k(a); Cal. Civ. Code §§ 1788.17 and 1788.30(b); Chang v. United States, 327 F.3d 911, 919 (9th Cir.2003) (case is moot where there remains “no effective relief … for the court to provide”)).

The Ninth Circuit also affirmed dismissal of the class claims against RSS because Marschall had a “reasonable opportunity to file a motion for class certification but failed to do so.” Id. (citing C.D. Cal. R. 23-3; Ghazali v. Moran, 46 F.3d 52, 53 (9th Cir. 1995) (per curiam) (“Only in rare cases will we question the exercise of discretion in connection with the application of local rules.”)). Read the rest of this entry »

Northern District Grants Pre-certification Class Discovery

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The Northern District granted a putative class representative’s motion to compel timecard and payroll records for all employees in Valenzuela v. MC2 Pool & Spa, et al., No. C09-01698 RS (HRL), 2010 WL 3489596 (N.D. Cal. Sept. 3, 2010). Read the rest of this entry »

Granular Fee Opinion From Southern District, Reducing Hourly Rates from $250-400 to $225-295, and Reducing Fee for Low Success

LET US ALL APPLY FOR OUR SHARE OF THE STIMULUS...
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District Judge Larry Alan Burns, in Gold v. NCO Financial Systems, Inc., No. 09cv1646-LAB (CAB), 2010 WL 3339498 (S.D. Cal. Aug. 23, 2010) (slip op.) considered a fee motion after defendant’s Fed. R. Civ. P. 68 offer of judgment was accepted.  The court, in a quite granular opinion, reduced the requested  hourly rates of $250-400 to $225-295.  The court also reduced time for block billing, intra-office communication, and unnecessary work.  Id. **3-4.  Comparing the fees to the $3,000 judgment achieved for plaintiff, the court reduced the fee award by 1/3 to $6,207.43.  The court reduced the costs from a requested $2,406.51 to $71.

By CHARLES H. JUNG

Second District Holds That Providing Meal Breaks Means Employers Must Provide Breaks “as a Practical Matter”

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While the California Supreme Court will resolve this issue shortly, in Brookler v. Radioshack Corp., B212893, 2010 WL 3341816 (Cal. Ct. App. 2d Dist. Aug. 26, 2010), an unpublished opinion issued today, the Second District Court of Appeal held that “Unless and until our Supreme Court holds otherwise, we agree with the analysis in Cicairos which held an employer’s obligation under the Labor Code and related wage orders is to do more than simply permit meal breaks in theory; it must also provide them as a practical matter.” Read the rest of this entry »