Muniz v. Wells Fargo & Company et al

Filing 49


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1 2 3 4 IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 5 FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 6 7 VICTOR MUNIZ, et al., 8 Plaintiffs, 9 10 v. WELLS FARGO & COMPANY, et al., Defendants. United States District Court Northern District of California 11 Case No. 17-cv-04995-MMC ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR APPOINTMENT OF INTERIM CLASS COUNSEL; VACATING HEARING DATE Re: Dkt. No. 26 12 13 Before the Court is plaintiff Victor Muniz’s (“Muniz”) “Motion for Appointment of 14 Interim Class Counsel,” filed October 5, 2017. Defendants have filed opposition, to which 15 Muniz replied, after which, with leave of Court, defendants filed a sur-reply. Having read 16 and considered the papers filed in support of and in opposition to the motion, the Court 17 deems the matter appropriate for determination on the parties’ respective written 18 submissions, hereby VACATES the hearing scheduled for January 12, 2018, and rules 19 as follows. 20 Ordinarily, “[w]here there are no competing lawsuits or firms,” courts in this district 21 have denied requests for appointment of interim class counsel. See In re Seagate Tech. 22 LLC Litig., No. 16-cv-00523-RMW, 2016 WL 3401989, at *3 (N.D. Cal. June 21, 2016) 23 (collecting cases). Here, there are no such competing lawsuits or firms, and Muniz’s 24 concern as to potentially related cases “on the horizon” is too speculative to warrant the 25 relief sought. (See Reply at 4: 8-13 (stating “[n]umerous firms have created websites 26 discussing possible claims relating to the same systematic practice alleged in this 27 action”)); see also In re Nest Labs Litig., No. 14-cv-01363-BLF, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 28 115596, at *4 (N.D. Cal. Aug. 18, 2014) (denying motion to appoint interim class counsel 1 where plaintiffs “allud[ed] to potential other ‘tag-along’ lawsuits on the horizon,” but failed 2 to “identif[y] any complaints actually filed, let alone any actions that [were] likely to be 3 consolidated with” plaintiffs’ case); In re Seagate Tech. LLC Litig., 16-cv-0523-RMW, 4 2016 WL 3401989, at *4 (finding plaintiffs’ “assertions . . . speculative at best” where 5 plaintiffs “vaguely mention[ed] the possibility of tag-a-long lawsuits and competing firms in 6 the future”). 7 To the extent Muniz argues interim class counsel is necessary to protect putative 8 class members from potentially misleading communications initiated by defendants, such 9 communications can be called to the Court’s attention and addressed, if and when appropriate, irrespective of whether interim class counsel has been appointed. See Gulf 11 United States District Court Northern District of California 10 Oil Co. v. Bernard, 452 U.S. 89, 100, 101 (1981) (holding “a district court has both the 12 duty and the broad authority to exercise control over a class action and to enter 13 appropriate orders governing the conduct of counsel and parties,” including “limiting 14 communications between parties and putative class members”); Cheverez v. Plains all 15 Am. Pipeline, LP, No. 15-cv-4113-PSG (JEMX), 2016 WL 861107, at *2 (C.D. Cal. Mar. 16 3, 2016) (recognizing “court’s duty to supervise communications with potential class 17 members exists even before a class is certified”); Eshelman v. OrthoClear Holdings, Inc., 18 No. 07-cv-01429-JSW, 2007 WL 2572349, at *2 (N.D. Cal. Sept. 4, 2007) (considering 19 whether defendant’s communication of pre-certification settlement offer was misleading).1 20 Accordingly, Muniz’s motion is hereby DENIED. 21 22 IT IS SO ORDERED. 23 24 Dated: December 4, 2017 MAXINE M. CHESNEY United States District Judge 25 26 1 27 28 A review of the docket for Eshelman v. OrthoClear Holdings, Inc., No. 07-cv01429-JSW, reflects no order for appointment of interim class counsel was requested or made. 2

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