KAREN TAVENNER, on behalf of herself and all others similarly situated, Plaintiff,
THE TALON GROUP, A DIVISION OF FIRST AMERICAN TITLE INSURANCE COMPANY, Defendant.
ORDER PRELIMINARILY APPROVING CLASS ACTION SETTLEMENT, STRIKING CASE DEADLINES, AUTHORIZING DISTRIBUTION OF CLASS NOTICE AND SETTING FINAL APPROVAL HEARING DATE
ROBERT S. LASNIK, District Judge.
This matter came before the Court on the parties' joint motion for preliminary approval of a Settlement Agreement (the "Agreement") which, if finally approved by the Court, will resolve the above-captioned putative class action (the "Action"). The Court considered the motion, supporting declaration and the Agreement (attached as Exhibit A to the Declaration of Guy W. Beckett in Support of Joint Motion of the Parties for Preliminary Approval of Proposed Class Action Settlement) and considered the reasonableness of proceeding with the proposed Settlement. Good cause having been shown, the Court now finds and rules as follows:
1. Preliminary certification for settlement purposes only of the Settlement Class defined in the Agreement is appropriate under Fed.R.Civ.P. 23(a) and Fed.R.Civ.P. 23(b)(3). Potential class members will have the opportunity to opt out of the Settlement Class.
2. The Settlement appears to be fair, reasonable and adequate and has been entered into in good faith. Counsel have represented to the Court that the Settlement is the product of arm's-length, serious, informed, and non-collusive negotiations between Plaintiff's Counsel and Defendant's Counsel. These negotiations took place following lengthy contested litigation, extensive discovery between the parties, additional exchange of information concerning the claims of the Settlement Class, and two full days of mediation with the Hon. William Cahill (Retired). Plaintiff's Counsel and Defendant's Counsel are knowledgeable and experienced in class action litigation and in the subject matter involved in this case.
3. Neither the fact of the Settlement nor the submission of the Agreement for court approval constitute, or shall be construed as, an admission of liability or responsibility on the part of The Talon Group ("Talon" or the "Settling Defendant"), which continues to deny all liability and disclaim all responsibility.
4. A hearing is appropriate to consider whether or not to grant final approval of the Settlement, at which time the Court will hear from the parties and Settlement Class Members and will evaluate the proposed Settlement and the application of Plaintiff's Counsel for an award of attorney's fees, costs and expenses (the "Attorney's Award"), and the Class Representative's service award ("Class Representative's Service Award"). Holding the Final Approval Hearing on April 10, 2014, will allow sufficient time for Settlement Class Members to receive notice of and object to the Settlement and for Settlement Class Members to opt out of the Settlement Class, if they so desire.
5. The plan for notifying class members ("Notice Plan") set forth in the Agreement comports with all of the requirements of Fed.R.Civ.P. 23 and federal standards of constitutional due process as the best notice practicable under the circumstances of this case. The Notice Plan provided in the Agreement and the proposed Settlement Notice and Website Notice will provide the Settlement Class members with the information necessary to make an informed decision regarding their participation in the Settlement. The Notice Plan is accurate and informative regarding the Settlement and defenses asserted in the Action, and the reasons for and the terms of the Settlement. The Notice Plan provided in the Agreement should be approved, the Settlement Notice attached as Exhibit E to the Settlement Agreement should be distributed to the Settlement Class, and the Website Notice attached thereto as Exhibit F should be posted on a website created by the Settlement Administrator and made available to Settlement Class members upon request to the Settlement Administrator.
GOOD CAUSE APPEARING THEREFORE, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED THAT:
1. This action is conditionally and preliminarily certified, for settlement purposes only, as a class action pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 23(a) and Fed.R.Civ.P. 23(b)(3) with a Settlement Class defined as:
All persons who:
(1) paid a recording fee for recording any type of document, including deeds of trust and all other documents; (2) to Talon; (3) where the recording fee was in excess of the actual cost to Talon; (4) in a Washington real estate transaction; (5) that closed between August 18, 2003 and the date of entry of the Preliminary Approval Order; OR
(1) paid a wire/express fee; (2) to Talon; (3) in a Washington real estate transaction; (4) that closed between August 18, 2003 and the date of entry ...