Corker et al v. Costco Wholesale Corporation et al

Filing 400

ORDER granting Plaintiffs' 393 Motion for Preliminary Approval of Class Settlements and Directing Issuance of Notice. The Court appoints JND Legal Administration as Settlement Administrator. Notice of Settlement to be mailed, emailed, and pu blished in the West Hawaii Today by 3/10/2021; Creation and Maintenance of Settlement Website by 3/10/2021; Creation and Maintenance of Toll-Free Number by 3/10/2021; Deadline for Settlement Class Counsel's application for attorneys 9; fees and Plaintiffs' requests for service awards is 4/21/2021; Settlement Administrator affidavit of compliance is due 6/4/2021; Deadline to have postmarked and/or filed a written objection to the Settlements or request for an exclusion is 5/5/2021; Final Approval Hearing is 6/18/2021 at 1:30pm. Signed by Judge Robert S. Lasnik. (LH)

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Case 2:19-cv-00290-RSL Document 400 Filed 02/17/21 Page 1 of 6 1 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE WESTERN DISTRICT OF WASHINGTON AT SEATTLE 2 3 4 5 BRUCE CORKER, et al., on behalf of themselves and others similarly situated, Plaintiff, 6 v. 7 8 Case No. 2:19-CV-00290-RSL ORDER GRANTING MOTION FOR PRELIMINARY APPROVAL OF CLASS SETTLEMENTS AND DIRECTING ISSUANCE OF NOTICE COSTCO WHOLESALE CORPORATION, et al., 9 Defendant. 10 11 1. Upon review and consideration of Plaintiffs’ Motion for Preliminary Approval of Class 12 Action Settlement (“Motion”), and all declarations and exhibits submitted in support thereof, 13 including the Cameron’s Coffee and Distribution Company (“Cameron’s”) Settlement 14 Agreement, Copper Moon, LLC (“Copper Moon”) Settlement Agreement, BCC Assets, LLC 15 d/b/a Boyer’s Coffee (“BCC”) Settlement Agreement, Pacific Coffee, Inc., d/b/a Maui 16 Coffee Company (“MCC”) Settlement Agreement, Cost Plus Inc. (“Cost Plus”) Settlement 17 Agreement (collectively referred to as “Settlement Agreements”) 1, executed by Bruce Corker 18 d/b/a Rancho Aloha, Melanie Bondera and Melanie Bondera, husband and wife, d/b/a 19 Kanalani Ohana Farm, and Robert Smith and Cecilia Smith, husband and wife, d/b/a 20 Smithfarms, and Smithfarms LLC (“Plaintiffs”) and the respective settling Defendants 21 (collectively “Parties”), for the purposes of the subject settlements; This Court finds that it 22 has subject matter jurisdiction over this matter pursuant to 15 U.S.C. § 1125(a) and federal 23 question jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1331. 24 2. The Court grants preliminarily approval of the Settlement Agreements based on the terms set 25 26 forth in the Settlement Agreements. 1 Capitalized terms not otherwise defined herein shall have the same meaning as set for in the Settlement LIEFF CABRASER HEIMANN & BERNSTEIN, LLP Agreements. 250 Hudson Street, 8th Floor New York, NY 10013-1413 Tel. 212.355.9500 • Fax 212.355.9592 Case 2:19-cv-00290-RSL Document 400 Filed 02/17/21 Page 2 of 6 1 3. Pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 23(e), the Court finds that the proposed Settlement Class, 2 composed of all persons and entities who farmed Kona coffee in the Kona District and then 3 sold their coffee from February 27, 2015 to the present, likely meets the requirements for 4 class certification under Fed. R. Civ. P. 23(a) and 23(b)(3) as follows: 5 6 a. The Settlement Class is so numerous that joinder of all members in a single proceeding would be impracticable; 7 b. Resolution of the claims will involve common questions of law and fact; 8 c. The named Plaintiffs’ claims are typical of those of the Settlement Class Members; 9 d. The named Plaintiffs and Settlement Class Counsel have fairly and adequately 10 11 represented the interests of the Settlement Class and will continue to do so; and e. Questions of law and fact common to the Settlement Class predominate over the 12 questions affecting only individual Settlement Class Members, and certification of the 13 Settlement Class is superior to other available methods to the fair and efficient 14 adjudication of this controversy. 15 4. The Court finds, pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 23(e)(1)(B)(i), that the proposed Settlement 16 Agreements are likely fair, reasonable, and adequate, entered into in good faith, and free 17 from collusion; that Class Counsel have ably represented the Class; and, that the relief, 18 monetary and injunctive, provided for in the Settlement Agreements outweighs the 19 substantial costs, the delay, and risks presented by further prosecution of issues during pre- 20 trial, trial, and possible appeal. Additionally, the proposed allocation plan treats the class 21 members equitably in proportion to their sales to provide Class Members with adequate 22 relief. Based on these factors, the Court concludes that, pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 23(e), the 23 Settlement Agreements meet the criteria for preliminary settlement approval and are deemed 24 fair, reasonable, and adequate, such that notice to the Settlement Class is appropriate. 25 5. The Court appoints Paul Richard Brown and Nathan Paine, of Karr Tuttle Campbell, and 26 Jason Lichtman, Daniel Seltz, and Andrew Kaufman, of Lieff Cabraser Heimann & ORDER Case No. 2:19-CV-00290-RSL -2- Case 2:19-cv-00290-RSL Document 400 Filed 02/17/21 Page 3 of 6 1 Bernstein, LLP as Settlement Class Counsel upon consideration of the factors set forth in 2 Fed. Riv. Civ. P. 23(g). 3 6. Pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 23(e)(1) 2 and 23(c)(2)(B), the Court approves, as to form and 4 content: 5 a. The proposed Notice (“Notice”), in substantially the form attached as Exhibit 6 to the 6 Declaration of Jason L. Lichtman, Dkt. # 394-6. The Court finds that the Notice is a 7 reasonable method calculated to reach members of the Settlement Class who would 8 be bound by the Settlement Agreements. The Notice shall be sent via First Class U.S. 9 Mail and email to all members for whom address information is available, and posted 10 on the Settlement Website, www.KonaCoffeeSettlement.com. 11 b. The Publication Notice, in substantially the form attached as Exhibit 7 to the 12 Declaration of Jason L. Lichtman, Dkt. # 394-7, which will be published in the West 13 Hawaii Daily. The Court approves, as to form and content, the proposed Notice and 14 Publication Notice because they concisely state in plain, easily understood language, 15 inter alia: (1) the nature of the Corker case and the Settlement Agreements, including 16 the terms thereof; (2) the definition of the Settlement Class; (3) the Plaintiffs’ 17 applications for service awards; (4) that a Settlement Class Member may enter an 18 appearance on their own behalf or through an attorney and the procedures for filing 19 an objection to the Settlement Agreements; (5) contact information for Settlement 20 Class Counsel, and a toll-free number to ask questions about the Settlement 21 Agreements; (6) the address of the case-specific website (the “Settlement Website”) 22 maintained by the Settlement Administrator that links to important case documents, 23 24 25 2 Specifically, pursuant to 23(e)(1)(B), the Court finds that notice can be directed “in a reasonable manner to all class members who would be bound by the proposal if giving notice is justified by the parties' showing that the court will likely be able to: (i) approve the proposal under Rule 23(e)(2); and (ii) certify the class for purposes of judgment on the proposal.” 26 ORDER Case No. 2:19-CV-00290-RSL -3- Case 2:19-cv-00290-RSL Document 400 Filed 02/17/21 Page 4 of 6 1 including motion for preliminary approval papers, and instructions on how to access 2 the case docket via PACER or in person; (7) important dates in the settlement 3 approval process, including the date of the Final Approval Hearing (as described 4 below); (8) the binding effect of a class judgment on Settlement Class Members; and 5 (9) Settlement Class Counsel’s forthcoming Attorneys’ Fees Motion. 6 7. The Court appoints JND Legal Administration as Settlement Administrator. 7 8. The Court finds that the Notice meets the requirements of due process under the U.S. 8 9 10 11 12 Constitution and Fed. R. Civ. P. 23. 9. The Court directs: a. The mailing and emailing of Settlement Class notice and publication in the West Hawaii Today shall begin within 21 days of the entry of this Order. b. No later than 21 days after entry of this Order, the Settlement Administrator shall 13 create and maintain a Settlement Website until at least 30 days after the effective date 14 of the Settlement Agreements. The Settlement Website shall (1) post, the Second 15 Amended Complaint, the Settlement Agreements, and Notice; (2) notify Settlement 16 Class Members of their rights to object or opt-out; (3) inform Settlement Class 17 Members that they should monitor the Settlement Website for developments; and (4) 18 notify Settlement Class Members that no further notice will be provided to them once 19 the Court enters the Final Order and Judgment, other than updates on the Settlement 20 Website. 21 c. The Settlement Administrator shall establish an email account and P.O. Box to which 22 Settlement Class Members may submit questions regarding the Settlement 23 Agreements. The Settlement Administrator will monitor the email account and P.O. 24 Box and respond promptly to administrative inquiries from Settlement Class 25 Members and direct new substantive inquiries to Settlement Class Counsel. 26 d. No later than 21days after entry of this Order, the Settlement Administrator shall ORDER Case No. 2:19-CV-00290-RSL -4- Case 2:19-cv-00290-RSL Document 400 Filed 02/17/21 Page 5 of 6 1 establish a toll-free telephone number that Settlement Class Members can call to 2 receive additional information about the Settlement Agreements. The toll-free number 3 shall be operational until at least the effective date of the Settlement Agreements. 4 10. All costs associated with implementing Notice, including fees and costs of the Settlement 5 6 Administrator, shall be paid out of the Settlement Funds. 11. No later than 63 days after entry of this Order, Settlement Class Counsel shall file its 7 application for attorneys’ fees and Plaintiffs’ request for service awards. The motions shall be 8 noted on the Court’s calendar for the Friday before the Final Approval Hearing. 9 12. No later than 14 days before the Final Approval Hearing, the Settlement Administrator shall 10 file an affidavit with the Court confirming its implementation of Notice in accordance with 11 this Order. 12 13. Any Settlement Class Member may comment on, or object to, the Settlement Agreements, 13 Settlement Class Counsel’s application for attorneys’ fees and costs, and/or the request for 14 Plaintiffs’ service awards. 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 14. The following chart summarizes the dates and deadlines set by this Order: Event Date March 10, 2021 Notice of Settlement to be mailed, emailed, and published in the West Hawaii Today. Creation and Maintenance of Settlement Website March 10, 2021 Creation and Maintenance of Toll-Free Number March 10, 2021 Deadline for Settlement Class Counsel’s application for attorneys’ fees and Plaintiffs’ requests for service awards April 21, 2021 Settlement Administrator affidavit of compliance with notice requirements 26 ORDER Case No. 2:19-CV-00290-RSL -5- June 4, 2021 Case 2:19-cv-00290-RSL Document 400 Filed 02/17/21 Page 6 of 6 1 Event 2 Deadline to have postmarked and/or filed a written objection to the Settlements or request for an exclusion. May 5, 2021 Final Approval Hearing June 18, 2021, at 1:30 p.m. 3 4 Date 5 6 7 Dated this 17th day of February, 2021. 8 9 Robert S. Lasnik United States District Judge 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 Presented by: LIEFF CABRASER HEIMANN & BERNSTEIN, LLP /s/ Daniel E. Seltz Daniel E. Seltz (pro hac vice) 250 Hudson Street, 8th Floor New York, NY 10013 Telephone: 212-355-9500 Email: dseltz@lchb.com KARR TUTTLE CAMPBELL Paul Richard Brown, WSBA #19357 Nathan T. Paine, WSBA #34487 Daniel T. Hagen, WSBA #54015 Andrew W. Durland, WSBA #49747 Joshua M. Howard, WSBA #52189 701 Fifth Avenue, Suite 3300 Seattle, Washington 98104 206.223.1313 npaine@karrtuttle.com 25 26 ORDER Case No. 2:19-CV-00290-RSL -6-

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