L. v. San Francisco Unified School District et al

Filing 60

ORDER APPROVING COMPROMISE OF MINOR'S CLAIMS. Signed by Judge James Donato on January 18, 2017. (jdlc1S, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 1/18/2017)

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1 2 3 4 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 5 NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 6 7 J. E. L., Case No.15-cv-05095-JD Plaintiff, 8 9 ORDER APPROVING COMPROMISE OF MINOR'S CLAIMS v. SAN FRANCISCO UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT, et al., 11 United States District Court Northern District of California 10 Defendants. 12 13 This is a civil rights action arising out of the alleged physical and emotional harassment of 14 J.E.L. by peers at James Lick Middle School. Dkt. No. 1. J.E.L. has been diagnosed with speech, 15 developmental, and physical disabilities, and alleged that defendants were indifferent to his 16 pervasive harassment, which culminated in a physical assault in which he was forced to eat liquid 17 soap. Dkt. No. 56 at 2. As a minor, he proceeds with his mother as his guardian. 18 The parties advised the Court that they have reached a settlement and jointly request that 19 the Court approve the compromise of the minor’s claim. Dkt. Nos. 56, 57. At the Court’s 20 direction, plaintiff submitted a supplemental memorandum providing additional background on 21 the settlement. Dkt. No. 59. 22 The Court has a “special duty” in this context to “conduct its own inquiry to determine 23 whether the settlement serves the best interest of” the minor plaintiff. Robidoux v. Rosengren, 638 24 F.3d 1177, 1181 (9th Cir. 2011) (quotation omitted). In making that inquiry, the Court “must 25 independently investigate and evaluate any compromise or settlement of a minor’s claims to 26 assure itself that the minor’s interests are protected, even if the settlement has been recommended 27 or negotiated by the minor’s parent or guardian ad litem.” Salmeron v. United States, 724 F.2d 28 1357, 1363 (9th Cir. 1983). 1 In Robidoux, our circuit held that the Court should “focus[] on the net recovery of the 2 minor plaintiffs under the proposed agreement,” taking care to “limit the scope of [its] review to 3 the question whether the net amount distributed to each minor plaintiff in the settlement is fair and 4 reasonable . . . .” 638 F.3d at 1181-82. “Most importantly, the district court should evaluate the 5 fairness of each minor plaintiff’s net recovery without regard to the proportion of the total 6 settlement value designated for adult co-plaintiffs or plaintiffs’ counsel -- whose interests the 7 district court has no special duty to safeguard.” Id. 8 Here, the parties state that San Francisco Unified School District (“SFUSD”) has agreed to pay $84,000 to resolve the matter, and to injunctive relief. Dkt. No. 59 at 2. J.E.L. will receive a 10 net amount of $69,481.13, with the balance going to counsel for fees and costs. Id. For injunctive 11 United States District Court Northern District of California 9 relief, SFUSD will send flyers against bullying students with disabilities to all staff and parents of 12 James Lick Middle School, and will conduct a one-hour training session on bullying and disabled 13 students. Dkt. No. 56 at 3-4. Plaintiff’s counsel states that the monetary recovery is “at the high 14 end of comparable settlements” involving peer-to-peer harassment claims. Dkt. No. 59 at 2. 15 Information provided in the supplemental brief requested by the Court supports that conclusion. 16 Id. at 2-6. 17 In light of these facts, the Court finds the proposed compromise of the minor’s claim in 18 this case to be “fair and reasonable, in light of the facts of the case, [plaintiff’s] specific claim[s], 19 and recovery in similar cases.” Robidoux, 638 F.3d at 1182. The settlement is approved. 20 21 IT IS SO ORDERED. Dated: January 18, 2017 22 23 JAMES DONATO United States District Judge 24 25 26 27 28 2

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