United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
B. E. and A.R., on their own behalf and on behalf of all similarly situated individuals, Plaintiffs,
DOROTHY F. TEETER, in her official capacity as Director of the Washington State Health Care Authority, Defendant.
ORDER FINALLY APPROVING CLASS SETTLEMENT
C. Coughenour UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
January 5, 2017, the Court preliminarily approved a proposed
Settlement Agreement, attached at Dkt. No. 59-1 (Agreement),
between the class and Defendant Dorothy F. Teeter, in her
official capacity as the Director of the Washington State
Health Care Authority (WHCA). (Dkt. No. 63.) In conjunction
with that order, the Court directed notice to be provided by
direct mail to all class members by January 26, 2017. The
Court approved a form of notice.
order further provided that class members who wished to
comment on or object to the proposed Agreement were required
to do so by March 21, 2017. Class members were informed of
their rights, and of this deadline, in the notices that were
mailed to them.
order further scheduled a final settlement hearing, which was
held on April 4, 2017, to consider objections and comments by
class members and to determine whether the proposed Agreement
is fair, reasonable, adequate, and should be approved by the
parties have reached a Settlement Agreement providing
coverage for direct acting antiviral medications for the
treatment of class members diagnosed with Hepatitis C, the
exact terms of which are set out in the Agreement.
Agreement codifies this Court's May 27, 2016, preliminary
injunction order, (Dkt. No. 40), for a period of three years
and restricts WHCA's ability to enforce its February 25,
2015 treatment policy that restricted access to treatment
based on fibrosis score. The Agreement provides substantial
prospective relief to the class members; i.e., class
members will be entitled to seek coverage for direct-acting
antivirals to treat Hepatitis C without regard to their
fibrosis score, subject only to narrow and reasonable
Court's order required WHCA to mail court-approved
notices to class members by direct mail. The notices informed
class members that they had an opportunity to object or
submit comments to the Court regarding the proposed Agreement
and that they must do so in writing by March 21, 2017.
Counsel for WHCA confirmed, by declaration, that the notices
were timely mailed. (Dkt. No. 66.)
Court and the Parties received 21 letters concerning the
Settlement Agreement. The majority of the letters were
supportive of the Agreement, while others were written by
class members seeking information on how to obtain treatment.
Significantly, no class members objected to the Settlement
Agreement or any of its terms or conditions.
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(e) provides that
“[t]he claims, issues, or defenses of a certified class
may be settled, voluntarily dismissed, or compromised only
with the court's approval.” Compromise and
arbitration of complex litigation is encouraged and favored
by public policy. See Simula, Inc. v. Autoliv, Inc.,
175 F.3d 716, 719 (9th Cir. 1999).
presumption of fairness and adequacy attaches to a class
action settlement reached in arm's-length negotiations by
experienced class counsel after meaningful discovery.
See, e.g., Officers for Justice v. Civil Service
Com., 688 F.2d 615, 625 (9th Cir. 1982);
Pickett v. Holland Am. Line-Westours, Inc., 145 Wn.
2d 178, 209, 35 P.3d 351 (2001).
following factors are generally considered when determining
whether a settlement is fair, adequate, and reasonable: the
likelihood of success by plaintiffs; the amount of discovery
or evidence; the settlement terms and conditions;
recommendation and experience of counsel; future expense and
likely duration of litigation; recommendation of neutral
parties, if any; number of objectors and nature ...