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Prieto v. Crete Carrier Corp.

United States District Court, S.D. Florida

November 8, 2019

YANELLE PRIETO, individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated, Plaintiff,
v.
CRETE CARRIER CORPORATION, Defendant.

          ORDER PRELIMINARILY APPROVING CLASS ACTION SETTLEMENT AND CERTIFYING THE SETTLEMENT CLASS

          BETH BLOOM, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         THIS CAUSE is before the Court upon Plaintiff's Unopposed Motion for Preliminary Approval of Class Settlement, ECF No. [28] (“Motion”). Plaintiff Yanelle Prieto (“Plaintiff”), on behalf of herself and classes of similarly situated persons, and Defendant Crete Carrier Corporation (“Crete” or “Defendant”) have agreed to settle this Action pursuant to the terms and conditions set forth in an executed Settlement Agreement (“Settlement Agreement” or “Agreement”). The Parties reached the Settlement through arm's-length negotiations with the help of experienced mediator, David H. Lichter. Under the Settlement, subject to the terms and conditions therein and subject to Court approval, Plaintiff and the proposed Settlement Class will fully, finally, and forever resolve, discharge, and release their claims.

         The Settlement has been filed with the Court, and Plaintiff and Class Counsel have filed the instant Motion. Upon considering the Motion, the Settlement and all exhibits thereto, the record in these proceedings, the representations and recommendations of counsel, and the requirements of law, the Court finds that: (1) this Court has jurisdiction over the subject matter and the Parties to this Action; (2) the proposed Settlement Class meets the requirements of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23 and should be certified for settlement purposes only; (3) the persons and entities identified below should be appointed Class Representative and Class Counsel; (4) the Settlement is the result of informed, good-faith, arm's-length negotiations between the Parties and their capable and experienced counsel, and is not the result of collusion; (5) the Settlement is within the range of reasonableness and should be preliminarily approved; (6) the proposed Notice program and proposed forms of Notice satisfy Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23 and constitutional due process requirements, and are reasonably calculated under the circumstances to apprise the Settlement Class of the pendency of the Action, class certification, terms of the Settlement, Class Counsel's application for an award of attorneys' fees and expenses (“Fee Application”) and request for a Service Award for Plaintiff, and their rights to opt-out of the Settlement Class or object to the Settlement, Class Counsel's Fee Application, and/or the request for a Service Award for Plaintiff; (7) good cause exists to schedule and conduct a Final Approval Hearing, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(e), to assist the Court in determining whether to grant Final Approval of the Settlement and enter the Final Approval Order, and whether to grant Class Counsel's Fee Application and request for a Service Award for Plaintiff; and (8) the other related matters pertinent to the Preliminary Approval of the Settlement should also be approved.

         Accordingly, it is ORDERED AND ADJUDGED as follows:

         1. As used in this Preliminary Approval Order, unless otherwise noted, capitalized terms shall have the definitions and meanings accorded to them in the Settlement.

         2. The Court has jurisdiction over the subject matter and Parties to this proceeding pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331, 1332.

         3. Venue is proper in this District.

         Provisional Class Certification and Appointment of Class Representative and Class Counsel

         4. It is well established that “[a] class may be certified solely for purposes of settlement where a settlement is reached before a litigated determination of the class certification issue.” Borcea v. Carnival Corp., 238 F.R.D. 664, 671 (S.D. Fla. 2006) (internal quotation marks omitted). In deciding whether to provisionally certify a settlement class, a court must consider the same factors that it would consider in connection with a proposed litigation class - i.e., all Rule 23(a) factors and at least one subsection of Rule 23(b) must be satisfied - except that the Court need not consider the manageability of a potential trial, since the settlement, if approved, would obviate the need for a trial. Id.; Amchem Prods., Inc. v. Windsor, 521 U.S. 591, 620 (1997).

         5. The Court finds, for settlement purposes, that the Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23 factors are present and that certification of the proposed Settlement Class is appropriate under Rule 23. The Court therefore provisionally certifies the following Settlement Class:

all individuals residing in the United States (i) who were sent a text message (ii) on his or her cellular telephone (iii) using the Twilio/Portal platform (iv) by or on behalf of Crete Carrier Corp. (“Crete”) (v) after he or she requested that Crete stop transmitting text messages and (vi) that were sent in the four years prior to the date of this Agreement.

         6. Specifically, the Court finds, for settlement purposes and conditioned on final certification of the proposed class and on the entry of the Final Approval Order, that the Settlement Class satisfies the following factors of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23:

(a) Numerosity: In the Action, approximately 897 individuals are members of the proposed Settlement Class. The proposed Settlement Class is thus so numerous that joinder of all members is impracticable.
(b) Commonality: “[C]ommonality requires the plaintiff to demonstrate that the class members have suffered the same injury, ” and the plaintiff's common contention “must be of such a nature that it is capable of classwide resolution - which means that determination of its truth or falsity will resolve an issue that is central to the validity of each one of the claims in one stroke.” Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. Dukes, 564 U.S. 338, 349 (2011) (internal quotation marks omitted). Here, the commonality requirement is satisfied. Multiple questions of law and fact centering on Defendant's class-wide practices are common to the Plaintiff and the Settlement Class, are alleged to have injured all members of the Settlement Class in the same way, and would generate common answers central to the viability of the claims were this case to proceed to trial.
(c) Typicality: Plaintiff's claims are typical of the Settlement Class because they concern Defendant's same alleged practices, arise from the same legal theories, and allege the same types of harm and entitlement to relief. Rule 23(a)(3) is therefore satisfied. See Kornberg v. Carnival Cruise Lines, Inc., 741 F.2d 1332, 1337 (11th Cir. 1984) (typicality satisfied where claims “arise from the same event or pattern or practice and are based on the same legal theory”); Murray v. Auslander, 244 F.3d 807, 811 (11th Cir. 2001) (named plaintiffs are typical of the class where they “possess the same interest and suffer the same injury as the class members”).
(d) Adequacy: Adequacy under Rule 23(a)(4) relates to: (1) whether the proposed class representatives have interests antagonistic to the class; and (2) whether the proposed class counsel has the competence to undertake the litigation at issue. See Fabricant v. Sears Roebuck, 202 F.R.D. 310, 314 (S.D. Fla. 2001). Here, Rule 23(a)(4) is satisfied because there are no conflicts of interest between the Plaintiff and the Settlement Class, and Plaintiff has retained competent counsel to represent her and the Settlement Class. Class Counsel regularly engage in consumer class litigation, complex litigation, and other litigation similar to this Action, and have dedicated substantial resources to the prosecution of the Action. Moreover, the Plaintiff and Class Counsel have vigorously and competently represented the Settlement Class in the Action.
(e) Predominance and Superiority: Rule 23(b)(3) is satisfied because the common legal and alleged factual issues here predominate over individualized issues, and resolution of the common issues for the members of the Settlement Class in a single, coordinated proceeding is superior to hundreds of individual lawsuits addressing the same legal and factual issues. With respect to predominance, Rule 23(b)(3) requires that “[c]ommon issues of fact and law . . . ha[ve] a direct impact on every class member's effort to establish liability that is more substantial than the impact of individualized issues in resolving the claim or claims of each class member.” Sacred Heart Health Sys., Inc. v. Humana Military Healthcare Servs., Inc., 601 F.3d 1159, 1170 (11th Cir. 2010) (emphasis omitted) (internal quotation marks omitted). Here, common questions present a significant aspect of the case and can be resolved for all members of the Settlement Class in a single adjudication. In a liability determination, those common ...

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