Plaintiff filed an unopposed motion for final approval for the class action settlement in Larson v. Harman-Management Corp., , No. 1:16-cv-00219-DAD-SKO, 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 107938 (E.D. Cal. June 18, 2020). According to the court order, both sides appeared telephonically at the final approval hearing, and there were no objectors present (no objections were filed). Previously, the Court had approved the class action settlement at the preliminary approval hearing. As no class certification issues arose in the interim, the Court approved the following class: All individuals and entities who were sent text messages from the A&W Text Club between February 17, 2012, and the date of the Preliminary Approval Order.
The Court found that the notice to the class settlement was adequate, as 171,563 putative class members out of the 233,026 total members (or 74%) had received mailed notices after extensive efforts by the settlement administrator. The settlement website which had the notice available received at least 19,000 hits. Ultimately, approximately 17,800 claims were filed.
In determining whether the settlement was fair, the court noted that there were extensive risks to the class if the case had gone forward. This was evidenced from the fact that the case had already been laboriously litigated for four years with significant discovery. Prior to reaching the settlement there were three motions for summary judgment filed as well as a motion for class certification. The Defendant had heavily contested whether it had used an ATDS, and whether the matter could proceed as a class action due to issues connected with some members having consented to receiving messages. The heavy litigation makes sense as the Defendant faced potential liability exposure in the billions according to the Court. The Court ordered that the approximate $157 dollar award to each class member that filed claims out of the $4,000,000 settlement fund, as well as the $1,000,000 award to class counsel was within the bounds of TCPA settlements, and thus granted final approval.