New Guidance from the Northern District of California for Class Action Settlements
The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California has published procedural guidance for parties submitting class action settlements for preliminary and final approval in the Northern District. Details of the Northern District’s procedural guidance for Class Action Settlements may be accessed here.
The new guidance may be a response to the Ninth Circuit’s ruling in Espinosa v. Ahearn (In re Hyundai & Kia Fuel Econ. Litig.) 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 1626 (Jan. 23, 2018) regarding the “rigorous analysis” required by district courts in reviewing class certification, and the “heightened” attention needed for reviewing class action settlements in particular.
The Northern District’s detailed procedural guidance provides a roadmap of topics and issues for parties to consider during class action settlement negotiations, when drafting class notices, and in preparing and submitting preliminary and final approval documents. While many of these issues are generally known and discussed amongst experienced class action counsel, some of the more granular considerations include requests to provide information about “lead counsel’s firms’ history of engagements with the settlement administrator over the last two years,” consulting “relevant prior orders by the judge” related to incentive awards, and submitting information about lead counsel’s “past comparable class settlements.”
Parties attempting to avoid unnecessary delay or denial of approval in the Northern District would be well-served by carefully reviewing and following the Court’s new guidelines when appropriate, in addition to the specific orders of their presiding judge.