Donato, James United States District Court, Northern District of California
It should require only the information needed to opt out of the settlement and no extraneous information or hurdles. The notice should clearly advise class members of the deadline, methods to opt out, and the consequences of opting out. In light of Ninth Circuit case law disfavoring reversions, whether and under what circumstances money originally designated for class recovery will revert to any defendant, the expected and potential amount of any such reversion, and an explanation as to why a reversion is appropriate. Any differences between the claims to be released and the claims in the operative complaint and an explanation as to why the differences are appropriate.
The copies must be delivered in accordance with Civil Local Rule 5-1. For voluminous filings, chambers would appreciate the use of binder clips rather than staples, or submission in three-ring binders. For documents with multiple attachments (e.g., declarations with exhibits, requests for judicial notice and so on), please use side tabs that clearly separate each attached document.
Procedural Guidance for Class Action Settlements
If there is a claim form, an estimate of the expected claim rate in light of the experience of the selected claims administrator and/or counsel based on comparable settlements, the identity of the examples used for the estimate, and the reason for the selection of those examples. The proposed allocation plan for the settlement fund. Where class members are entitled to non-monetary relief, such as discount coupons, debit cards, or similar instruments, the number of class members availing themselves of such relief and the aggregate value redeemed by the class members and/or by any assignees or transferees of the class members’ interests. Where class members are entitled to non-monetary relief, such as discount coupons or debit cards or similar instruments, the number of class members availing themselves of such relief and the aggregate value redeemed by the class members and/or by any assignees or transferees of the class members’ interests. 4) OPT-OUTS—The notice should instruct class members who wish to opt out of the settlement to send a letter, setting forth their name and information needed to be properly identified and to opt out of the settlement, to the settlement administrator and/or the person or entity designated to receive opt outs.
The court may not approve the amount of the cost award to the settlement administrator until the final approval hearing. The Court encourages the parties to address the items listed in the checklist linked here in formulating their response. Civil Local Rule 5-1, chambers copies should not be submitted unless required by the assigned judge’s standing order or specifically requested by the assigned judge.
If there are no such cases, counsel should so state. The parties are required to lodge for chambers one paper copy of each document that is filed electronically. All chambers copies must be three-hole punched at the left margin and marked with the ECF stamp .
Counsel should be prepared to submit copies of detailed billing records if the court orders. 1) CLASS MEMBERS’ RESPONSE—The motion for final approval briefing should include information about the number of undeliverable class notices and claim packets, the number of class members who submitted valid claims, the number of class members who opted out, and the number of class members who objected to or commented on the settlement. In addition, the motion for final approval should respond to any objections. All chambers copies must be double-sided, three-hole punched at the left margin and marked with the ECF stamp . These printed copies should be marked “Chambers Copy — Do Not File” and placed in an envelope clearly labeled with the judge’s name and case number.
- It should require only the information needed to opt out of the settlement and no extraneous information or hurdles.
- Where class members are entitled to non-monetary relief, such as discount coupons, debit cards, or similar instruments, the number of class members availing themselves of such relief and the aggregate value redeemed by the class members and/or by any assignees or transferees of the class members’ interests.
- In general, unused funds allocated to attorneys’ fees, service awards, settlement administration costs, and class member payments should be distributed to the class pro rata if feasible, or else awarded to cy pres recipients or to the relevant government authorities.
- The parties should also identify any relationship they or their counsel have with the proposed cy pres recipients.
Any differences between the settlement class and the class proposed in the operative complaint and an explanation as to why the differences are appropriate. “You can ask the Court to deny approval by filing an objection. You can’t ask the Court to order a different settlement; the Court can only approve or reject the settlement. If the Court denies approval, no settlement payments will be sent out, and the lawsuit will continue. If that is what you want to happen, you should object.
About District Judge James Donato
3) The Court may hold a hearing following submission of the parties’ Post-Distribution Accounting. Where injunctive and/or other non-monetary relief has been obtained, discuss the benefit conferred on the class. A note to advise class members to check the settlement website or the Court’s PACER site to confirm that the date has not been changed. Listen-only, so you will need to contact the Courtroom Deputy at least one business day before the hearing to request a Zoom invitation in order to join the hearing as a case participant.
5) OBJECTIONS—Objections must comply with Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23. The notice should instruct class members who wish to object to the settlement to send their written objections only to the court. All objections will be scanned into the electronic case docket, and the parties will receive electronic notices of filings. The notice should make clear that the court can only approve or deny the settlement and cannot change the terms of the settlement. The notice should clearly advise class members of the deadline for submission of any objections.
Parties submitting class action settlements for preliminary and final approval in the Northern District of California should review and follow these guidelines to the extent they do not conflict with a specific judicial order in an individual case. Failure to address the issues discussed below may result in unnecessary delay or denial of approval. Parties and mediators should consider this guidance during settlement negotiations and when drafting settlement agreements and exhibits, including class notices. In cases litigated under the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 and the Fair Labor Standards Act, follow the statute and case law requirements that apply to such cases, such as regarding reasonable costs and expenses awards to representative plaintiffs, and this procedural guidance to the extent applicable. 8) CY PRES AWARDEES—If the settlement contemplates a cy pres award, the parties should identify their chosen cy pres recipients, if any, and how those recipients are related to the subject matter of the lawsuit and the class members’ claims.
The class recovery under the settlement , the potential class recovery if plaintiffs had fully prevailed on each of their claims, claim by claim, and a justification of the discount applied to the claims. Two three-hole punched, double-sided chambers copies of the parties’ pretrial filings must be delivered to the Clerk’s office by noon the day after filing. 3) SERVICE AWARDS—All requests for service awards must be supported by evidence of the value provided by the proposed awardees, the risks they undertook in participating, the time they spent on the litigation, and any other justifications for the awards. 4) ELECTRONIC VERSIONS—Electronic versions of all proposed orders and judgments should be submitted to the presiding judge’s Proposed Order email address at the time they are filed. The notice distribution plan should rely on U.S. mail, email, and/or social media as appropriate to achieve the best notice that is practicable under the circumstances, consistent with Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23. If U.S. mail is part of the notice distribution plan, the notice envelope should be designed to enhance the chance that it will be opened.
These printed copies shall be marked “Chambers Copy — Do Not File” and placed in an envelope clearly labeled with the judge’s name and case number. All chambers copies must be submitted to this Court’s San Francisco chambers; please do not deliver chambers copies to the Oakland Courthouse. Identify the proposed settlement administrator, the settlement administrator selection process, how many settlement administrators submitted proposals, what methods of notice and claims payment were proposed, and the lead class counsel’s firms’ history of engagements with the settlement administrator over the last two years. 12) ELECTRONIC VERSIONS—Electronic versions of all proposed orders and notices should be submitted to the presiding judge’s Proposed Order email address when filed. Most judges in this district use Microsoft Word, but counsel should check with the individual judge’s Courtroom Deputy. 9) TIMELINE—The parties should ensure that class members have at least thirty-five days to opt out or object to the settlement and the motion for attorney’s fees and costs.
Instructions on how to access the case docket via PACER or in person at any of the court’s locations. If they are not in agreement, a judge’s standing order supersedes the local rules. The court will use Zoom Meetings for settlement conferences and other non-public hearings. To join a meeting, click on the link below. You will initially enter a “waiting room” and will be admitted into the meeting by court staff.