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Doherty v. The Hertz Corporation

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

June 25, 2014

SUSAN DOHERTY and DWIGHT SIMONSON, individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated, Plaintiff,
v.
THE HERTZ CORPORATION, et al., Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

NOEL L. HILLMAN, District Judge.

This matter having come before the Court by way of an unopposed motion for Final Approval of a proposed Class Action Settlement filed by Plaintiffs Susan Doherty and Dwight Simonson (together "Plaintiffs") and by way an unopposed motion [Doc. No. 106] for attorney's fees, cost reimbursement, and Class Representative service awards; and

The Court noting that Plaintiffs filed a consolidated amended class action complaint [Doc. No. 43] (hereinafter, "the amended complaint") in this consolidated action[1] on July 27, 2011 asserting claims against Defendant The Hertz Corporation (hereinafter, "Hertz"), Defendant American Traffic Solutions, Inc. (hereinafter, "ATS"), and Defendant PlatePass, L.L.C., (hereinafter, "PlatePass") (collectively, "Defendants") for: (1) breach of contract in Count I; (2) violations of the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act in Count II; (3) injunctive relief in Count III; (4) unjust enrichment in Count IV; (5) conversion in Count V; and (6) civil conspiracy in Count VI; and

Plaintiffs' amended complaint alleging generally that Plaintiffs and the Class Members rented cars from Hertz that were pre-enabled with the "PlatePass®" electronic toll payment system, the implementation of which systematically charged Class Members unwarranted PlatePass related charges, including, but not limited to administrative fees and overcharges; and

Plaintiffs' amended complaint further alleging that these PlatePass related charges resulted in Defendants breaching the Hertz rental car agreements with Plaintiffs and Class Members who rented cars from Hertz in the United States, violating the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act, wrongly converting Class Members' monies, being unjustly enriched, and committing a civil conspiracy; and

Defendants having answered [Doc. Nos. 46, 47] Plaintiffs' amended complaint on August 26, 2011 and having denied any liability relating to the PlatePass electronic toll payment system and the allegedly unwarranted fees and overcharges; and

Plaintiffs and Defendants having litigated this matter over the course of several years, including the filing of a motion to dismiss [Doc. No. 17] by Defendants in April of 2010 and a motion for summary judgment [Doc. Nos. 74] by ATS and PlatePass in October of 2012; and

The Court noting that while the motion for summary judgment was pending, the Court received a letter dated April 1, 2013 from John F. Ward, Jr., Esquire, counsel for Defendants, writing on behalf of all parties advising that the parties had reached an agreement in principle to settle this class action litigation and further advising that Plaintiffs would file a motion for preliminary approval of the settlement agreement by April 30, 2013;[2] and

The Court noting that Plaintiffs' motion [Doc. No. 98] for preliminary approval of the proposed class action settlement was ultimately filed on May 30, 2013; and

The Court having preliminarily approved the settlement by Order [Doc. No. 100] dated July 1, 2013; and

The Court having found in the Preliminary Approval Order that, inter alia:

• The Court had jurisdiction over this matter pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332;
• The Settlement Agreement [Doc. No. 98-4] was sufficiently fair, reasonable and adequate to allow dissemination of notice of the proposed class settlement to Class Members and to hold a Final Approval Hearing;
• The Settlement Agreement was entered into at arm's length by experienced counsel after extensive discovery and after mediation sessions and negotiations occurring over several months;
• The Class[3] presented for conditional certification satisfied the prerequisites set forth in Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(a) for numerosity, commonality, typicality, and adequacy of representation;
• The Class also satisfied the predominance and superiority requirements of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(b)(3);
• The Settlement Agreement was sufficiently fair, reasonable and adequate, warranting a Final Approval Hearing and issuance of notice to the Class as set forth in the Settlement Agreement;
• Plaintiffs Susan Doherty and Dwight Simonson would be appointed as representatives for the Class;
• Chistopher M. Placitella, Esquire and Michael Coren, Esquire of Cohen, Placitella & Roth, P.C., along with Steven R. Jaffe, Esquire and Mark Fistos, Esquire and the law firm of Famer, Jaffe, Weissing, Edwards, Fistos & Lehrman, P.L., Stephen A. Dunn, Esquire and the law firm of Emanuel & Dunn, PLLC (collectively, "Plaintiffs' counsel") would fairly and adequately represent the interests of Plaintiffs and the Class;
• Plaintiffs' counsel would be appointed as Class Counsel to represent the Class pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(g);
• Jeff Dahl of Dahl Administration in Minneapolis, Minnesota would be appointed as Settlement Administrator to carry out the settlement administration responsibilities under the Settlement Agreement including, but not limited to, implementing, performing, and overseeing notice of the ...

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