Vaughan et al v. Ornales et al

Filing 26

ORDER REQUIRING PLAINTIFFS to Submit Supplemental Briefing on Petition for Compromise of Minors' Claims, signed by Magistrate Judge Christopher D. Baker on 11/16/2022. Fourteen Day Deadline. (Hall, S)

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1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 9 EASTERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 10 11 12 13 J.G., A.G., A.P., and L.P., in each case by and through their guardian ad litem, Maria Pantoja, individually and as a successor in interest to Richard Posadas, deceased, and LOURDES VAUGHNAN, individually, 14 15 16 17 18 Plaintiffs, v. Case No. 1:20-cv-00941-JLT-CDB ORDER REQUIRING PLAINTIFFS TO SUBMIT SUPPLEMENTAL BRIEFING ON PETITION FOR COMPROMISE OF MINORS’ CLAIMS FOURTEEN DAY DEADLINE (ECF No. 10) CITY OF ARVIN; KEVIN ARCHULETA; ALDO ORNALES; PATRICIA STEWART, Defendants. 19 20 On November 11, 2022, plaintiffs J.G., A.G., A.P., and L.P., by and through their 21 guardian ad litem, Maria Pantoja, filed an unopposed Ex Parte Application for Approval of 22 Compromise of the Claims of Minor Plaintiffs. (ECF No. 24.) The petitions addressed the 23 compromise of the minors’ claims under California Rules of Court 7.950 and 7.951 as well as 24 Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 17(c). 25 “District courts have a special duty, derived from Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 17(c), 26 to safeguard the interests of litigants who are minors.” Robidoux v. Rosengren, 638 F.3d 1177, 27 1181 (9th Cir. 2011). “In the context of proposed settlements in suits involving minor plaintiffs, 28 this special duty requires a district court to ‘conduct its own inquiry to determine whether the 1 settlement serves the best interests of the minor.’” Robidoux, 638 F.3d at 1181 (quoting Dacanay 2 v. Mendoza, 573 F.2d 1075, 1080 (9th Cir. 1978)). 3 The Local Rules for this district provide that “[n]o claim by or against a minor . . . may be 4 settled or compromised absent an order by the Court approving the settlement or compromise.” 5 L.R. 202(b). “In actions in which the minor . . . is represented by an appointed representative 6 pursuant to appropriate state law, excepting only those actions in which the United States courts 7 have exclusive jurisdiction, the settlement or compromise shall first be approved by the state 8 court having jurisdiction over the personal representative.” L.R. 202(b)(1). In all other actions, 9 the motion for approval of a proposed settlement shall be filed pursuant to Local Rule 230, and 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 must disclose, among other things, the following: the age and sex of the minor or incompetent, the nature of the causes of action to be settled or compromised, the facts and circumstances out of which the causes of action arose, including the time, place and persons involved, the manner in which the compromise amount or other consideration was determined, including such additional information as may be required to enable the Court to determine the fairness of the settlement or compromise, and, if a personal injury claim, the nature and extent of the injury with sufficient particularity to inform the Court whether the injury is temporary or permanent. If reports of physicians or other similar experts have been prepared, such reports shall be provided to the Court. The Court may also require the filing of experts’ reports when none have previously been prepared or additional experts’ reports if appropriate under the circumstances. Reports protected by an evidentiary privilege may be submitted in a sealed condition to be reviewed only by the Court in camera, with notice of such submission to all parties. 20 L.R. 202(b)(2). “When the minor or incompetent is represented by an attorney, it shall be 21 disclosed to the Court by whom and the terms under which the attorney was employed; whether 22 the attorney became involved in the application at the instance of the party against whom the 23 causes of action are asserted, directly or indirectly; whether the attorney stands in any relationship 24 to that party; and whether the attorney has received or expects to receive any compensation, from 25 whom, and the amount.” L.R. 202(c). 26 Additionally, under Robidoux, the Court is to consider if the “net amount distributed to 27 [the] minor plaintiff in the settlement is fair and reasonable, in light of the facts of the case, the 28 minor’s specific claim, and recovery in similar cases.” Robidoux, 638 F.3d at 1181-82 2 1 2 (emphasis added). Here, plaintiffs’ Ex Parte Application does not contain sufficient information to enable the 3 Court to determine under Robidoux whether the proposed compromise is “fair and reasonable.” 4 Specifically, in support of the proposed compromise figure of $225,000, plaintiffs fail to explain 5 how that amount is tethered to the facts and circumstances under which this action arose, 6 including whether any particular challenges were encountered that justify the proposed settlement 7 amount. Likewise, plaintiffs wholly fail to address recoveries in similar cases in sufficient detail 8 for the Court to consider the fairness of the settlement here. Furthermore, plaintiffs do not set 9 forth how they reached the reimbursement figure of $7,949.67 to be divided among the minor 10 plaintiffs. 11 Based on the foregoing, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that within fourteen (14) days of the 12 date of entry of this order, plaintiffs shall file a supplemental brief addressing the issues identified 13 in the paragraph above. 14 IT IS SO ORDERED. 15 16 Dated: November 16, 2022 ___________________ _ UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 3

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