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Lincoln Adventures LLC v. Those Certain Underwriters At Lloyd's, London Members

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

October 3, 2019

LINCOLN ADVENTURES LLC and MICHIGAN MULTI-KING INC., on behalf of themselves and all those similarly situated


          CLAIRE C. CECCHI, U.S.D.J.

         This matter comes before the Court by way of Plaintiffs' motion for final approval of partial class action settlement, ECF No. 105, and related motion for an award of attorneys' fees, expenses/charges and service awards, ECF No. 106, both filed on August 14, 2019. Plaintiffs previously filed a motion for preliminary approval of partial class action settlement on April 19, 2019. ECF No. 89. On May 23, 2019, the proposed settlement was preliminarily approved and the class was preliminarily certified for settlement purposes. ECF No. 93. The proposed settlement is with the following thirteen Lloyd's Syndicates: 0033, 0102, 0382, 0435, 0570, 0609, 0623, 0958, 1183, 1886, 2001, 2623, and 2987 (collectively referred to herein as "Defendants").[1] ECF No. 89-1 at 9 n. 1. The Court has considered all of the submissions filed in connection with the two pending motions and heard argument in support of settlement at a fairness hearing on September 18, 2019, ECF No. 122. For the reasons set forth below, both motions are granted.


         A. Legal Standard

         Under Rule 23 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the Court must determine first whether certification of the proposed class is appropriate under Rule 23(a) and (b), and then whether the proposed settlement is fair, reasonable, and adequate under Rule 23(e)(2). Rule 23(a) has four requirements that the Court must find are met: that (1) "the class is so numerous that joinder of all members is impracticable;" (2) "there are questions of law or fact common to the class;" (3) "the claims or defenses of the representative parties are typical of the claims or defenses of the class;" and (4) "the representative parties will fairly and adequately protect the interests of the class." Fed.R.Civ.P. 23(a). Rule 23(b) has additional requirements that differ depending on the type of class action. Here, Plaintiffs seek certification under Rule 23(b)(3), which requires a finding "that the questions of law or fact common to class members predominate over any questions affecting only individual members, and that a class action is superior to other available methods for fairly and efficiently adjudicating the controversy." Fed.R.Civ.P. 23(b).

         In Girsh v. Jepson, 521 F.2d 153 (3d Cir. 1975), the Third Circuit identified nine factors, referred to as the Girsh factors, to consider when deciding whether a settlement is fair, reasonable, and adequate. These include:

• the complexity, expense, and likely duration of the litigation;
• the reaction of the class to the settlement;
• the stage of the proceedings and the amount of discovery completed;
• the risks of establishing liability;
• the risks of establishing damages;
• the risks of maintaining the class action through the trial;
• the ability of the defendants to withstand a greater judgment;
• the range of reasonableness of the settlement fund in light of the best possible recovery; &
• the range of reasonableness of the settlement fund to a possible recovery in light of all the attendant risks of litigation.

Id. at 157. Additionally, Rule 23(e)(1) requires the Court to ensure reasonable notice was given to all class members who would be bound by the settlement.

         The Court considered the parties' arguments and submissions, as well as the lack of any objections.[2] The analysis will start with the four requirements of Rule 23(a), followed by the Rule 23(b)(3) factors, and lastly, the Rule 23(e) and the Girsh factors.

         B. Rule 23(a) Analysis

         1. Numerosity

         The Court preliminarily certified the class as:

[A]ll persons and entities in the United States (including its territories) who, between January 1, 1997, and March 25, 2019, purchased or renewed a Contract of Insurance with any Lloyd's Syndicates named as a Defendant in the Action. Excluded from the Settlement Class are Released Defendants, Defendants, defendants formerly named as such in the Action, all Lloyd's syndicates, Opt-outs, and judges presiding over the Action and their immediate families.

ECF Nos. 93 at 4, 89-1 at 10. Thousands of class members have been identified nationwide. ECF No. 89-1 at 31. The Court finds this is sufficient to meet the numerosity requirement because joinder of such a large group would be impracticable.

         2. Commonality

         The Court finds there are common questions of law and fact within the class. Specifically:

• whether Defendants made false or misleading statements or omissions;
• whether Defendants' scheme was furthered by mailings or wires;
• the effect of Defendants' conduct on the price of insurance sold to insureds in the United States during the Class Period;
• whether their conduct violated RICO and/or civil conspiracy laws and/or unjustly enriched them; and
• the nature and extent of monetary damages to which Plaintiffs and Settlement Class are entitled.

Id. at 31-32. The Court finds these common questions sufficient to meet the commonality requirement. See generally Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. Dukes,56 ...

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