Doe No. 59 v. Santa Rosa City Schools

Filing 77

ORDER GRANTING PETITION FOR MINOR'S COMPROMISE by Hon. William H. Orrick re 73 Administrative Motion. (jmdS, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 8/8/2017)

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1 2 3 4 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 5 NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 6 7 JANE DOE NO. 59, Plaintiff, 8 9 10 United States District Court Northern District of California 11 Case No. 3:16-cv-01256-WHO ORDER GRANTING PETITION FOR MINOR'S COMPROMISE v. SANTA ROSA CITY SCHOOLS, et al., Re: Dkt. No. 73 Defendants. 12 13 14 INTRODUCTION Minor plaintiff Jane Doe alleges that she was sexually assaulted by another student C.E., in 15 part due to the negligence of defendant Santa Rosa City Schools (“SRCS”). Plaintiff and SRCS 16 settled the case at a settlement conference before Magistrate Judge Maria-Elena James on June 12, 17 2017. The settlement was conditioned upon the terms remaining confidential. Plaintiff, by and 18 through her Guardian ad Litem Mother Doe (Petitioner), seeks approval of the minor’s 19 compromise as ordered by Judge James. The petition is GRANTED. 20 BACKGROUND 21 The alleged sexual assault occurred in March 2015, when plaintiff was 15 years old. 22 Plaintiff alleges that SRCS had notice of C.E.’s sexual harassment of female students, including 23 herself. Plaintiff has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, and continues to suffer 24 from physical, psychological, and emotional injuries. 25 26 27 28 The parties reached a settlement agreement at a settlement conference before Magistrate Judge Maria-Elena James on June 12, 2017. The terms of the settlement are confidential. See 1 Dkt. No. 72.1 LEGAL STANDARD 2 3 Generally, federal courts follow applicable state law when approving a minor’s settlement 4 claim. See Schwarzer, Tashima & Wagstaffe, California Practice Guide: Federal Civil Procedure 5 Before Trial § 15:138 (2016). With court approval, a guardian ad litem has the power to 6 compromise in settlement agreements. Cal. Civ. Proc. Code § 372. California Rule of Court 7.95 governs court approval of a minor’s compromise and 7 8 requires that the petition be verified and “contain a full disclosure of all information that has any 9 bearing upon the reasonableness of the compromise.” Cal. Rules of Court 7.950; see also The Rutter Group California Practice Guide: Civil Procedure Before Trial, Ch. 12(II)-B. That 11 United States District Court Northern District of California 10 information must include, as relevant here, a description of the nature of the claim, a statement 12 that the Petitioner has made a careful and diligent inquiry and investigation into the facts and the 13 responsibility for the incident, a full description of the settlement, details of any expenses to be 14 taken from the settlement (including attorney’s fees), the net balance of the proceeds due to the 15 minors, and information about the attorney representing or assisting the minors. See Mandatory 16 Form for Petition to Approve Compromise of Disputed Claim for Minor, Judicial Council of 17 California MC-350. According to the Ninth Circuit, “the court in which a minor’s claims are 18 being litigated has a duty to protect minor’s interests.” Salmeron v. United States, 724 F.2d 1357, 19 1363 (9th Cir. 1983). In order to ensure minors’ interests are protected, the court must 20 “independently investigate and evaluate” compromises recommended by parents or guardians ad 21 litem. Id. DISCUSSION 22 Upon review, I find that the Petition contains all the necessary information required by 23 24 California Rules of Court 7.950. After a settlement conference with Magistrate Judge James, 25 plaintiff agreed to settle her claims with SRCS. As a condition of the settlement, the parties 26 stipulated to keep the terms of the settlement confidential. Plaintiff asserts and I accept as true that 27 1 28 The parties’ Stipulated Motion to File Petition for Approval of Minor’s Compromise under seal (Dkt. No. 73) is GRANTED. 2 1 the parties agreed to the settlement after a “careful and diligent inquiry and investigation” into the 2 nature, extent, and seriousness of Jane Doe’s injuries. Pet. to Approve Compromise at 3 (Dkt. No. 3 74[under seal]). A summary of the disposition of the funds is contained in the sealed petition. Id. 4 at 3–5. The plaintiff will receive the net balance of the proceeds when she turns 18. Id. at 5. 5 I conclude that the settlement is a fair and reasonable compromise that benefits the minor plaintiff 6 and is in her best interest. I also approve the payment of attorney’s fees in the requested amount. 7 The Petition for Approval of Minor’s Compromise is GRANTED, and Mother Doe is appointed 8 Guardian ad Litem. 9 10 IT IS SO ORDERED. Dated: August 8, 2017 United States District Court Northern District of California 11 12 William H. Orrick United States District Judge 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 3

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