CALIFORNIA CLASS ACTION LAW

Tag: Northern District of California

MDL Panel Transfers Google Street View Litigation to Northern District of California

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The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation transferred In re Google, Inc. Street View Electronic Communications Litigation, — F. Supp. 2d —-, 2010 WL 3303204 (U.S. Jud. Pan. Mult. Lit. Aug. 17, 2010) to the Northern District of California, assigned to Hon. James Ware.  The cases involve common factual questions arising out of allegations that Google intentionally intercepted electronic communications sent or received over class members’ open, non-secured wireless networks.

Plaintiffs in one District of District of Columbia action moved for coordinated or consolidated pretrial proceedings of this litigation in the District of District of Columbia. Plaintiffs in the other District of District of Columbia action and a potentially-related action supported the motion. Read the rest of this entry »

Ninth Circuit Holds That Incomplete Disclosures About Sales Force Performance Are Not Material Omissions

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In In re Cutera Securities Litigation, 610 F.3d 1103 (9th Cir. 2010), a fraud-on-the-market class action suit, plaintiff investors appealed the dismissal of their securities fraud class action against Cutera, Inc., its chief executive officer, Kevin Connors, and its chief financial officer, Robert J. Santilli, under §§ 10(b) and 20(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934.  The investors alleged that Cutera provided false and misleading revenue projections and failed to disclose material information about the shortcomings of Cutera’s sales staff.

Chief Judge Vaughn R. Walker of the Northern District of California dismissed without prejudice for failure to state claim. Investors appealed.

The Ninth Circuit affirmed, concluding that Cutera’s alleged incomplete disclosures about its sales force are not material omissions made in violation of the securities laws, and that Cutera’s earnings projections fall within the statutory safe harbor for forward-looking projections under the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 (“PSLRA“), 15 U.S.C. § 78u-5. Read the rest of this entry »

Northern District Approves 28.9% Fee Award in Wage and Hour Class Action Settlement

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Judge Jeffrey S. White approved a wage and hour class action settlement of a non-reversionary $1.8 million, inclusive of $520,000 in attorneys fees, in Ozga v. U.S. Remodelers, Inc., No. C 09-05112 JSW, 2010 WL 3186971 (N.D. Cal. Aug. 9, 2010).

Plaintiff filed a class action in the Alameda Superior Court on February 17, 2009, alleging that Defendant U.S. Remodelers Inc. violated the California Labor Code and violated California Industrial Welfare Commission Wage Orders by: (1) requiring its Installer employees to work substantial amounts of time without compensation; (2) regularly failing to provide Installers with meal and rest periods; and (3) refusing to reimburse expenses that Installers incurred in the performance of their work duties, including travel expenses and equipment costs.

Defendant removed the action to this Court, and Plaintiff subsequently moved to remand.  But before the hearing on the motion to remand, the parties reached a settlement, which was facilitated, in part, by a mediation that occurred on October 1, 2009, before Michael Loeb.  The parties also engaged in some discovery, and Class Counsel interviewed a number of Settlement Class members.

The Court finds that the terms of the Settlement are fair, adequate and reasonable. As noted, the settlement was reached after the parties engaged in discovery, conducted a meditation, and continued to engage in arms-length negotiations. The parties agreed to a Settlement payment of $1,800,000.00, none of which will revert to the Defendant. The overall reaction to the settlement has been positive. The Claims Administrator has received 156 claim forms from the 270 Class Members. (Id., ¶¶ 20-21.) Neither the Claims Administrator nor the Court received any objections to the Settlement. No Class Member appeared at the final approval hearing to object. According to the Claims Administrator, assuming the Court were to grant in full Plaintiff’s motion for attorneys’ fees and costs and service awards, approximately $1,108,917.72 would be available to distribute Class Members who submitted timely claim forms, for an average award of just over $7,000. (Id. ¶¶ 16-18.)

The Court approved costs to be paid to the Claims Administrator of $10,000.00 from the Settlement Fund.

Attorneys Fees, Costs, and Service Awards

Plaintiff brought an unopposed fee application, seeking $600,000.00 in attorneys’ fees, $11,274.89 in costs, and $10,000.00 in service awards to him and to class member Boris Moskovich.

Plaintiff’s counsel sought an award of attorneys’ fees based on the percentage method, asking for 33 1/3% of the Settlement Fund.  The court agreed to depart from the 25% benchmark.  See Vizcaino v. Microsoft Corp., 290 F.3d 1043, 1047 (9th Cir. 2002) (noting that 25% is benchmark and “usual” range of awards is 20-30%); Hanlon v. Chrysler Corp., 150 F.3d 1011, 1029 (9th Cir. 1998) (stating that 25% is benchmark).  But the court would not vary from the benchmark to the degree requested by counsel.

The Court concludes that counsel did achieve an excellent result for the class, that the reaction to the settlement has been overwhelmingly positive, and that Plaintiff faced significant risk in prosecuting this case given the uncertain state of California law in similar wage and hour cases. The Court also recognizes that other courts have awarded settlement fees of up to 33 1/3% in such cases. However, the parties reached this settlement quickly and did not engage in any motion practice. See, e.g., Navarro v. Servisair, 2010 WL 1729538 (N.D. Cal. Apr. 27, 2010) (finding that proposed award of 30% of settlement fund unjustifiably departed from benchmark based in part on speed with which parties reached a settlement). Moreover, the requested percentage would amount to award that is more than double the fees actually incurred by counsel. Compare Vasquez v. Coast Valley Roofing, Inc., 266 F.R.D. 482, 491 (E.D. Cal. 2010) (awarding 33 1/3% of settlement fund which was “significantly less” than asserted lodestar).

Thus the court found that an award of  $520,000.00 was reasonable.

The court found counsels’ requests for costs in the amount of $11,274.89 reasonable.

The court also approved service awards in the amount of $10,000.00 for the lead plaintiff and for a class member.

By CHARLES H. JUNG