Wright v. Lyft, Inc.

Filing 100

ORDER re 96 Motion for Final Approval of Class Action Settlement and signed by Judge Barbara J. Rothstein. (TH)

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The Honorable Barbara J. Rothstein 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT WESTERN DISTRICT OF WASHINGTON AT SEATTLE 8 9 10 KENNETH WRIGHT, on his own behalf and on behalf of other similarly situated persons, NO. 2:14-cv-00421-BJR 11 12 13 14 Plaintiff, ORDER RE: FINAL JUDGMENT APPROVING SETTLEMENT AND CERTIFYING SETTLEMENT CLASS v. LYFT, INC., a Delaware corporation, Defendant. 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 ORDER RE: FINAL JUDGMENT APPROVING SETTLEMENT AND CERTIFYING SETTLEMENT CLASS (NO. 2:14-cv-00421BJR) -1- 1 ORDER 2 3 4 Upon review and consideration of the Settlement Agreement and all exhibits thereto (Dkt. No. 91) (the “Settlement Agreement”), by and between Plaintiff Kenneth Wright 5 (“Representative Plaintiff” or “Named Plaintiff”) and Defendant Lyft, Inc. (“Defendant” or 6 “Lyft”), and the memoranda and arguments of counsel, 7 8 IT IS HEREBY ORDERED and ADJUDGED as follows: 1. The Court has jurisdiction over the subject matter of the Action and the Parties, 9 including all Settlement Class Members, and venue is proper in this District. 10 11 2. Pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 23, the Court finally approves the settlement of this 12 Action, as embodied in the terms of the Settlement Agreement, and finds that the Settlement is, in 13 all respects, fair, reasonable, and adequate and in the best interest of the Settlement Class Members 14 in light of the factual, legal, practical, and procedural considerations raised by this case. The 15 Settlement Agreement is the product of good faith arms-length negotiations by the parties, each of 16 whom was represented by experienced counsel. The Settlement Agreement is incorporated by 17 reference into this Order (with capitalized terms as set forth in the Settlement Agreement), is 18 19 20 hereby adopted as an Order of this Court, and becomes part of the final judgment in this action. 3. As explained in the preliminary approval order, pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 23(a) 21 and 23(b)(3), the Court hereby finally certifies for settlement purposes the following Settlement 22 Class defined as follows: 23 24 25 All Washington residents who, between June 1, 2012, and the date of preliminary approval, November 15, 2018, received on their cellular telephones one or more invitational or referral text messages through Lyft’s ‘Invite A Friend’ program. 26 ORDER RE: FINAL JUDGMENT APPROVING SETTLEMENT AND CERTIFYING SETTLEMENT CLASS (NO. 2:14-cv-00421BJR) -2- 1 Excluded from the settlement class are: (i) any judge that may preside over this case; (ii) any of the Released Parties, other than Lyft users who sent or caused to be sent invitational text messages; (iii) any Settlement Class Member who has timely submitted a Request for Exclusion by the Opt-Out Deadline; (iv) any person or entity who has previously given a valid release of the claims asserted in the Action; and (v) Plaintiff’s Counsel and their employees. 2 3 4 5 6 4. The Court hereby finds that the notice previously given to Settlement Class 7 Members, including notice by email, notice by postcard to certain potential class members, and 8 notice by publication in two local newspapers: (1) was in compliance with the Preliminary 9 Approval Order (Dkt. No. 92), (2) constituted the best notice practicable under the circumstances, 10 (3) constituted valid, due, and sufficient notice to all persons affected by and/or entitled to 11 participate in the Settlement, and (4) was in full compliance with the notice requirements of Fed. 12 R. Civ. P. 23 and due process. 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 5. The Court finds that there were no objections to the settlement and that only one (1) class member requested to be excluded from the settlement. 6. The Court appoints Kenneth Wright as the Representative Plaintiff of the Settlement Class and finds that he meets the requirements of Fed. R. Civ. P. 23(a)(4). 7. The Court appoints the following lawyers as Class Counsel, and finds that they meet the requirements of Fed. R. Civ. P. 23(a)(4): 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 Donald W. Heyrich HKM Employment Attorneys LLP 600 Stewart Street, Suite 901 Seattle, WA 98101 Kyann Kalin Peter Stutheit Stutheit Kalin LLC 1 SW Columbia Street, Suite 1850 Portland, OR 97258 ORDER RE: FINAL JUDGMENT APPROVING SETTLEMENT AND CERTIFYING SETTLEMENT CLASS (NO. 2:14-cv-00421BJR) -3- 1 2 3 8. This Court further finds that the following considerations identified under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(e)(2) militate in favor of finding that the settlement is fair, reasonable, and adequate, and therefore should be approved: 4 a. The class representative and class counsel have adequately represented the class. 5 6 Plaintiff Kenneth Wright filed this putative class action over five years ago, on 7 March 24, 2014. Class counsel are experienced. The litigation was hard fought, 8 including motions practice and the resolution of legal questions certified to the 9 Washington Supreme Court. 10 11 b. The proposal was negotiated at arm’s length. The parties negotiated the settlement over a multi-year period, including three in-person mediation sessions with two 12 13 14 experienced mediators: the Honorable Terrence Lukens (Ret.) and the Honorable Gary A. Feess (Ret.). The parties also engaged in follow-up telephone negotiations 15 through Judge Feess and additional negotiations directly between counsel over 16 many months. 17 18 19 c. The relief provided for the class is adequate in light of the following findings: (i) As to the costs, risks, and delay of trial and appeal, the Court agrees that, for the reasons explained in Plaintiff’s motion for final approval of the 20 21 settlement, both parties faced significant risks—both on the merits and as 22 to class certification—that made settlement preferable to continued 23 litigation. 24 (ii) The Court also finds that the proposed method of distributing relief to the 25 class is effective. JND Legal Administration (“JND”), an experienced 26 claims administrator, undertook a robust notice program that was approved ORDER RE: FINAL JUDGMENT APPROVING SETTLEMENT AND CERTIFYING SETTLEMENT CLASS (NO. 2:14-cv-00421BJR) -4- 1 by this Court and included: (a) notice of the settlement by email to 280,221 2 potential settlement class members; (b) court-approved postcard notice to 3 75,715 potential class members who did not have a valid email address; (c) 4 a second follow-up email to 222,980 potential class members as a reminder 5 6 of the upcoming claim deadline; (d) publication notice of the settlement in 7 the Seattle Times and Spokesman Review; (e) a class settlement website with 8 copies of important case documents, answers to frequently asked questions, 9 and contact information for the administrator; and (f) a case-specific toll- 10 11 free number which could be used to obtain information regarding the Settlement. JND provided for online claims filing and, for potential class 12 13 14 members who received postcard notice, included postage-prepaid claim forms with the notice postcards. 15 (iii) The proposed amount and timing of the attorneys’ fee award is fair and 16 appropriate. The class settlement provides a common fund with a total 17 value of $3,995,000. The proposed attorneys’ fee award of $998,750 18 19 constitutes 25% of the settlement fund. This amount reflects the 25% “benchmark” that is standard in the Ninth Circuit. In re Bluetooth Headset 20 21 Prods. Liab. Litig., 654 F. 3d 935, 942 (9th Cir. 2011). In addition, as 22 explained in the Plaintiff’s Motion for Approval of Service Award and 23 Attorneys’ Fees and Costs, the attorneys’ fees will not be paid until after 24 this Court grants final approval; the attorneys’ fees will be paid at the same 25 time that the Settlement Class is paid. 26 (iv) The parties’ agreement is memorialized in the Settlement Agreement that ORDER RE: FINAL JUDGMENT APPROVING SETTLEMENT AND CERTIFYING SETTLEMENT CLASS (NO. 2:14-cv-00421BJR) -5- 1 the Court has approved, and there are no other agreements between the 2 parties that are required to be identified under Rule 23(e)(3). 3 d. The proposal treats class members equitably relative to each other. The Settlement 4 Agreement recognizes four subgroups within the Settlement Class. The agreement 5 sorts class members based upon the date on which the Settlement Class Member 6 7 received the text message and whether or not he or she is a Lyft user (and thus 8 accepted Lyft’s Terms of Service). These groups reflect the fact that the method by 9 which the “Invite A Friend” program text messages were sent changed 10 meaningfully on February 9, 2015, and the fact that some Settlement Class 11 Members are subject to potential defenses based on Lyft’s Terms of Service. The 12 subgroups thus recognize that different Settlement Class Members are situated 13 differently based on the relative strength of Lyft’s defenses to their claims. 14 15 16 17 18 9. Finally, the Court notes that there was no opposition to the settlement; no class member filed an objection and only one class member opted out of the settlement. 10. In sum, this Court finds that the settlement is fair, adequate, and reasonable. Accordingly, the Settlement Agreement should be, and is, approved and shall govern 19 all issues regarding the settlement and all rights of the parties to this settlement, including Class 20 21 22 23 Members. Each Class Member shall be bound by the Agreement, including the releases in the Settlement Agreement. 11. The parties are hereby ORDERED promptly to carry out their respective 24 obligations under the Settlement Agreement and JND is hereby DIRECTED to complete 25 administration of the Settlement in a manner consistent with the Settlement Agreement. 26 12. In accordance with the Settlement Agreement, the Settlement Administrator shall ORDER RE: FINAL JUDGMENT APPROVING SETTLEMENT AND CERTIFYING SETTLEMENT CLASS (NO. 2:14-cv-00421BJR) -6- 1 issue a payment to Plaintiffs’ counsel for attorneys’ fees in the amount of $998,750, and costs in 2 the amount of $20,764.06. 3 13. In accordance with the Settlement Agreement, the Settlement Administrator shall 4 issue a payment of $5,000 to Named Plaintiff Kenneth Wright as a service award for his time and 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 effort invested in this litigation. 14. The Settlement Administrator JND is entitled to fees in an amount to be determined to be paid from the settlement fund. 15. All Released Claims of each Settlement Class Member (as those terms are defined in the Settlement Agreement) are hereby dismissed with prejudice. 16. Each and every Class Member is permanently enjoined from bringing, joining, 12 13 14 15 assisting in, or continuing to prosecute against any of the Released Parties for any of the Released Claims. 17. This Court retains jurisdiction of all matters relating to the interpretation, 16 administration, implementation, effectuation, and enforcement of the Settlement Agreement. The 17 Court further retains jurisdiction to enforce this Order entered this day. 18 IT IS SO ORDERED. 19 20 21 Dated May 29, 2019. 22 23 24 25 A Barbara Jacobs Rothstein U.S. District Court Judge 26 ORDER RE: FINAL JUDGMENT APPROVING SETTLEMENT AND CERTIFYING SETTLEMENT CLASS (NO. 2:14-cv-00421BJR) -7-

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