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Linehan v. Allianceone Receivables Management, Inc.

United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle

June 1, 2017

TIMOTHY LINEHAN, on behalf of Plaintiff and a class, Plaintiff,
v.
ALLIANCEONE RECEIVABLES MANAGEMENT, INC. Defendant.

          PRELIMINARILY APPROVING CLASS ACTION SETTLEMENT, AUTHORIZING DISTRIBUTION OF CLASS NOTICE, AND SETTING FINAL APPROVAL HEARING DATE AS TO DEFENDANTS PHYSICIANS &DENTISTS CREDIT BUREAU, INC. AND JASON WOEHLER

          JOHN C. COUGHENOUR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This matter comes before the Court on the motion for preliminary approval of a Settlement Agreement (the Agreement) among Plaintiffs Joshua Auxier, James Duncan, Dixie Duncan, and Gennell Cordova (referred to herein as Plaintiffs) and Defendants Physicians & Dentists Credit Bureau, Inc. (P&D) and Jason Woehler (referred to herein as Defendants), which, if finally approved by the Court, will resolve the putative class action brought by Plaintiffs against Defendants (the Action). Having fully considered the motion and the relevant record, the Court now FINDS and ORDERS as follows[1]:

         I. FINDINGS

         1. Preliminary certification for settlement purposes of only the Settlement Classes defined in the Agreement is appropriate under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(a) and (b)(3). Potential class members will have the opportunity to opt out of or object to the Settlement Classes.

         2. The Settlement appears fair, reasonable, and adequate and has been entered into in good faith. Counsel for the settling parties have represented to the Court that the Settlement is the product of arms'-length, serious, informed, and non-collusive negotiations between Plaintiffs' Counsel and Defendants' Counsel. These negotiations took place following lengthy contested litigation, extensive discovery between the parties, and additional exchange of information concerning the claims of the Settlement Classes. Plaintiffs' Counsel and Defendants' 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 constitutes, or shall be construed as, an admission by Plaintiffs that their claims lacked merit, nor an admission of liability or responsibility on the part of Defendants, who continue to deny all liability and disclaim all responsibility.

         4. A hearing is appropriate to consider whether to grant final approval of the Settlement, at which time the Court will hear from the parties to the Agreement and any Members of the Settlement Classes who properly object and appear, and will evaluate the proposed Settlement and the application of Plaintiffs' Counsel for an award of attorney fees, costs, and expenses (the Attorney's Award), and the Class Representatives' incentive award (the Class Representatives' Incentive Awards). Holding the Final Approval Hearing on Tuesday, October 24, 2017 will allow sufficient time for Members of the Settlement Classes to receive notice of and object to the Settlement or opt out of the Settlement, if they so desire.

         5. The plan for notifying Members of the Classes set forth in the Agreement and the proposed Settlement Notice (the Notice Plan) comports with all of the requirements of Rule 23 and federal standards of constitutional due process as the best notice practicable under the circumstances of this case. The Notice Plan will provide the Members of the Settlement Classes 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 should be approved and the Settlement Notice attached as Exhibit B to the Settlement Agreement should be mailed to the Settlement Class.

         II. ORDER

         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 Rule 23(a) and (b)(3) with two Settlement Classes defined as:

All persons who, during the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) Class Period, were sued by P&D in a division of the King County District Court (KCDC) where they did not reside (the FDCPA Class);
and
All persons who, during the Consumer Protection Ac t (C P A) Class Period, were sued by P&D in a division of the King County District Court (KCDC) where they did not reside and against whom ...

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