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Akins v. Seidberg Law Offices Pc

United States District Court, D. Arizona

May 20, 2019

Aaleon Akins, Plaintiff,
v.
Seidberg Law Offices PC, Defendant.

          ORDER

          HONORABLE DIANE J. HUMETEWA, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Pending before the Court is the parties' Joint Motion for Class Certification and Final Approval of Class Action Settlement (Doc. 32).

         I. BACKGROUND

         On September 24, 2018, after arms-length negotiations, Plaintiff and Defendant entered into a Class Action Settlement Agreement (“Agreement”), which is subject to review under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23. On October 2, 2018, [1] the parties filed the Agreement, together with their Joint Motion for Conditional Certification and Preliminary Approval of Class Action Agreement (“Preliminary Approval Motion”). (Doc. 26). Within ten days of filing the proposed settlement with the Court, Defendant complied with the requirements of 28 U.S.C. § 1715, and notified the appropriate state and federal officials. (Doc. 32-3). On October 23, 2018, upon consideration of the Preliminary Approval Motion and the record, the Court entered an Order conditionally granting class certification and preliminary approval of the settlement (“Preliminary Approval Order”). (Doc. 27). Pursuant to the Preliminary Approval Order, the Court preliminarily approved the proposed settlement agreement, approved the form of the notice to class members, and set the date and time of the Fairness Hearing.

         On March 14, 2019, the parties filed their Joint Motion for Class Certification and Final Approval of Class Action Settlement (“Final Approval Motion”) (Doc. 32). The Final Fairness Hearing was held on March 14, 2019, pursuant to Rule 23 to determine whether the proposed settlement is fundamentally fair, reasonable, adequate, and in the best interest of the Class Members and should be fully and finally approved by the Court. (Doc. 33). Pursuant to the Court's direction at the Fairness Hearing, on March 28, 2019, the parties submitted a Stipulation and Addendum to the Class Action Settlement Agreement (“Addendum”). (Doc. 34).

         II. Discussion

         The Court has read and considered the Agreement, Final Approval Motion, Addendum, and the record as a whole and makes the following findings.

         A. Class Certification

         Final approval of a class action settlement requires, as a threshold matter, an assessment of whether the class satisfies the requirements of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(a) and (b). Hanlon v. Chrysler Corp., 150 F.3d 1011, 1019-1022 (9th Cir. 1998). Because no facts that would affect these requirements have changed since the Court preliminarily approved the class on October 23, 2018, this Order incorporates by reference its prior analysis under Rules 23(a) and (b) as set forth in the order granting preliminary approval. (Doc. 27). Accordingly, class certification is granted.

         B. Settlement Agreement

         The Court finds that adequate notice was sent to the settlement class members as required in Preliminary Approval Motion (Doc. 27) and no members objected or requested to be excluded from the class. (Doc. 31 at 2). The Court further finds that the settlement of this matter, on the terms and conditions set forth in the Agreement, is in all respects fundamentally fair, reasonable, adequate, and in the best interest of the Class Members, especially in light of the benefits to the Class Members; the strength of the Plaintiff's alleged claims; the strength of Defendant's alleged defenses; the complexity, expense, and probable duration of further litigation; the risk and delay inherent in possible appeals; the risk of collecting any judgment obtained on behalf of the Class; and the limited amount of any potential total recovery for the Class.

         At the Fairness Hearing, the Court expressed hesitation regarding the scope of Plaintiff's release of claims; however, based on the Addendum and the record as a whole, the Court is satisfied that Plaintiff understands the scope her released claims, which includes her claims against Defendant and against Ford Motor Credit. (Docs. 32-2, 34 at 2). Thus, the Court finds the settlement is fair, reasonable, adequate, and in the best interests of the settlement class.

         Accordingly, IT IS ORDERED

         1. Jurisdiction: The Court has jurisdiction over the subject matter of the Lawsuit and ...


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