ND Cal issues procedural guidance for class-action settlements

The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California has issued "Procedural Guidance for Class Action Settlements."

The guidance addresses items to include in a motion for preliminary approval, suggestions for class notice, and attorney fees. Among other things, the guidelines instruct lawyers to file an accounting of the distribution to the class and attorneys.

In light of the pending Supreme Court case Frank v. Gaos, which challenges the notion of cy pres awards, it is interesting to see this guidance, which reflects a common-sense approach to cy pres:

If the settlement contemplates a cy pres award, the parties should identify their chosen cy pres recipients, if any, and how those recipients are related to the subject matter of the lawsuit and the class members. The parties should also identify any relationship they or their counsel have with the proposed cy pres recipients. In general, unused funds allocated to attorneys’ fees, incentive awards, settlement administration fees and payments to class members should be distributed to the class pro rata or awarded to cy pres recipients.

The Guidance is here.

Many class actions are filed in ND Cal. It will be interesting to see whether other courts follow suit in issuing guidance.

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