Seebrook v. The Children's Place Retail Stores, Inc.

Filing 84

ORDER by Judge Claudia Wilken GRANTING PLAINTIFFS 74 MOTION FOR ATTORNEYS FEES (ndr, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 12/4/2013)

Download PDF
1 2 3 4 IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 5 FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 6 7 8 GALINA SEEBROOK; MARIA ISABEL BELTRAN; NICOLLE DISIMONE; and KRISTEN HARTMAN, 9 United States District Court For the Northern District of California 10 11 12 ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFFS’ MOTION FOR ATTORNEYS’ FEES (Docket No. 74) Plaintiffs, v. THE CHILDREN’S PLACE RETAIL STORES, INC., Defendant. 13 14 No. C 11-837 CW ________________________________/ Before the Court is Plaintiffs' motion for attorneys’ fees, 15 expenses and incentive award payments. The Court ordered 16 supplemental briefing on the effect of the Ninth Circuit's recent 17 decision in In re HP Inkjet Printer Litigation, 716 F.3d 1173 (9th 18 Cir. 2013), on this settlement. Having considered all of the 19 parties’ papers and oral argument on the motion, the Court GRANTS 20 Plaintiffs’ motion. 21 DISCUSSION 22 A. 23 Whether the Settlement Agreement is a Coupon Settlement Under CAFA 24 The terms of the settlement provide that class members 25 receive the choice of a ten dollar gift certificate with no 26 minimum purchase required or a thirty-five percent off voucher at 27 Defendant The Children’s Place Retail Stores, Inc. 28 whether the settlement qualifies as a coupon settlement, thus At issue is 1 triggering the provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 1712, the Class Action 2 Fairness Act (CAFA). 3 In Inkjet, the Ninth Circuit addressed the calculation of 4 attorneys' fees in the context of a coupon settlement under CAFA. 5 The court held that, under § 1712(c), “If a settlement gives 6 coupon and equitable relief and the district court sets attorneys’ 7 fees based on the value of the entire settlement, and not solely 8 on the basis of injunctive relief, then the district court must 9 use the value of the coupons redeemed when determining the value United States District Court For the Northern District of California 10 11 of the coupons part of the settlement.” Id. at 1184. Although CAFA defines various terms, it does not define what 12 constitutes a “coupon.” 13 blurred the distinction between ‘coupons’ and ‘vouchers’ and have 14 considered, at times, that the terms are equivalent . . . . The 15 distinction between a coupon and a voucher is that a coupon is a 16 discount on merchandise or services offered by the defendant and a 17 voucher provides for free merchandise or services.” 18 Inc., 2013 WL 5352969, *4 (S.D. Cal.). 19 See 28 U.S.C. § 1711. “Courts have often Foos v. Ann, In the present case, the thirty-five percent discount at The 20 Children’s Place Retail Stores is indisputably a coupon. 21 is whether the ten dollar merchandise certificate provided in the 22 alternative by the settlement is a coupon. 23 5352969 at *7 (noting that “coupon settlement” is not defined in 24 CAFA and finding that the option of a coupon does not “transform a 25 class action settlement into a coupon settlement under CAFA”). 26 The parties contend that, whereas the Inkjet settlement provided 27 non-transferable “e-credits” in the amount of two to six dollars, 28 the settlement here provides a transferable ten dollar merchandise 2 At issue See Foos, 2013 WL 1 certificate without a minimum purchase amount. 2 parties note that “[m]ore than 50% of the merchandise at 3 California Children’s Place stores is priced for purchase at $10 4 or less.” 5 contrast, the parties argue that, in Inkjet, nothing could be 6 obtained for the coupon amounts. 7 noted evidence that the prices charged on the defendant’s website 8 --“the only retailer that will accept the settlement coupons--are 9 higher than those charged by other retailers.” United States District Court For the Northern District of California 10 Moreover, the Parties’ Joint Letter Brief, Docket No. 72 at 2. Id. In The Inkjet court further 716 F.3d at 1179 n.6. 11 Other courts have found that CAFA does not apply to 12 settlements that offer vouchers for free products. 13 distinguish vouchers from discounts on products where class 14 members are forced to purchase the products and pay the difference 15 between the full and coupon-discounted price. 16 similar case, recently assessed a settlement in which class 17 members were given the option of a fifteen dollar certificate and 18 a discount at the defendant store. 19 not constitute a coupon settlement because class members “have the 20 opportunity to receive free merchandise, as opposed to merely 21 discounted merchandise.” 22 similar reasoning, the court in Browning v. Yahoo! Inc., 2007 WL 23 4105971 (N.D. Cal.) concluded that in-kind relief was not a coupon 24 because it “does not require class members to spend money in order 25 to realize the settlement benefit.” 26 *5. 27 Inc., 2008 WL 3287154 (N.D. Cal.), for instance, the court stated 28 that a coupon could encompass a “noncash benefit” that “allows a Such cases Foos, an extremely The court found that this did Foos, 2013 WL 5352969, at *3. Other courts disagree. Employing Browning, 2007 WL 4105971, at In Fleury v. Richemont North America, 3 1 consumer to buy an entire product.” 2 *2. 3 Place stores is priced for purchase at ten dollars or less, class 4 members do not need to spend money in order to realize the 5 settlement benefit. 6 Fleury, 2008 WL 3287154, at Nonetheless, because much of the merchandise at Children’s Accordingly, the Court finds that the ten dollar certificate 7 is not a coupon and thus does not trigger the provisions of 8 8 U.S.C. § 1712. 9 which involved a nationwide class with multiple claims, the Moreover, as the parties point out, unlike Inkjet, United States District Court For the Northern District of California 10 instant settlement involves a California class and a single state 11 law claim under California Civil Code § 1747.08. 12 that California law provides an independent statutory basis for 13 the award of attorneys’ fees in cases resulting in the 14 “enforcement of an important right affecting the public interest.” 15 Cal. Code Civ. Proc. § 1021.5. 16 are determined under the lodestar method. 17 class members suffered no actual out-of-pocket economic loss. 18 Court reviews Plaintiffs’ request for attorneys' fees under the 19 lodestar method. The parties note Fees awarded pursuant to § 1021.5 In addition, here, 20 B. 21 The The parties have agreed that class counsel will receive Calculation of Attorneys' Fees 22 $335,000.00 in attorneys' fees and costs. 23 Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides, “In a certified class 24 action, the court may award reasonable attorney's fees and 25 nontaxable costs that are authorized by law or by the parties' 26 agreement.” 27 action agreements must be “fundamentally fair, adequate and Rule 23(h) of the Attorneys' fees provisions included in proposed class 28 4 1 reasonable.” 2 F.3d 935, 941 (9th Cir. 2011). 3 In re Bluetooth Headset Products Liab. Litig., 654 Reasonable attorney's fees must be calculated using the 4 “lodestar” method. 5 the number of hours the prevailing party reasonably expended on 6 the litigation by a reasonable hourly rate.” 7 San Rafael, 96 F.3d 359, 363 (9th Cir. 1996). 8 9 “The ‘lodestar’ is calculated by multiplying Morales v. City of Here, pursuant to the Court’s request on November 7, 2013, class counsel provided an alternative calculation reducing the United States District Court For the Northern District of California 10 hourly fee of $675.00 to $650.00 and adjusting the lodestar. 11 Docket No. 80 at 4. 12 unreimbursed costs is $404,455.63 through August 27, 2013. 13 new lodestar amount remains higher than the $335,000.00 amount 14 sought. 15 Class counsel’s adjusted lodestar including The Having reviewed the evidentiary materials Plaintiffs have 16 provided, the Court finds that the reduced hourly rates are 17 reasonable. 18 detailed time records setting forth the hours expended, categories 19 of the hours expended, and the dates on which the time was 20 expended. 21 counsel's fees, costs and expenses of litigation is reasonable. Counsel’s hours are supported with declarations and The Court finds that a $335,000.00 award for class 22 C. 23 The Court grants Plaintiffs’ unopposed request of $2,750 24 incentive payments to compensate class representatives Galina 25 Seebrook, Maria Isabel Beltran, Nicolle DiSimone, Kristen Hartman 26 and Mario Arellano for their services as court appointed class 27 representatives. 28 time and effort that they have spent in litigating this case. Fees, Expenses, and Incentive Award Payments The awards are reasonable given the amount of 5 1 2 Based on the foregoing, IT IS ORDERED that Plaintiffs’ motion for attorneys' fees and costs is granted. 3 4 5 6 IT IS SO ORDERED. Dated: 12/4/2013 CLAUDIA WILKEN United States District Judge 7 8 9 United States District Court For the Northern District of California 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 6

Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.

Why Is My Information Online?