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Harrison v. Consolidated Government of Columbus Georgia

United States District Court, M.D. Georgia, Columbus Division

October 11, 2017

CLEOPATRA HARRISON, Plaintiff,
v.
CONSOLIDATED GOVERNMENT OF COLUMBUS, GEORGIA, et. al., Defendants.

          FINAL APPROVAL AND JUDGMENT

          CLAY D. LAND, U.S. DISTRICT COURT CHIEF JUDGE

         Plaintiff has filed a motion for final approval (the “Motion for Final Approval”) of a proposed settlement (the “Settlement”) of the above-captioned class action (the “Action”). Cleopatra Harrison (“Plaintiff”), individually and on behalf of the class of persons she seeks to represent (the “Settlement Class” defined below), filed this action against Defendants Consolidated Government of Columbus, Georgia (“Columbus”), Michael Cielinski, John Darr, Ricky Boren, and Michael Lincoln (collectively “Defendants”) (Plaintiff and Defendants are collectively referred to as the “Parties”). Having fully considered the pending motion, the Court grants it and approves the parties' Class Action Settlement Agreement (the “Agreement” or the “Settlement Agreement”), finding and ordering as follows:

         1. Unless defined herein, all defined terms in this Final Approval Order and Judgment shall have the respective meanings set forth in the Agreement.

         2. This Court has jurisdiction over the subject matter of the Action and over all parties to the Action, including all Settlement Class Members.

         3. The Court preliminarily approved the Settlement Agreement and entered the Preliminary Approval Order dated April 26, 2017, and notice was given to all members of the Settlement Class under the terms of the Preliminary Approval Order.

         4. The Court has read and considered the papers filed in support of the Motion, including the Settlement Agreement and the exhibits thereto, arguments and representations submitted on behalf of the Plaintiff, Settlement Class Members, and Defendants. The Court has not received any objections from any person regarding the Settlement Agreement. The Court held a hearing on October 11, 2017, at which time the parties and objecting Settlement Class Members were afforded the opportunity to be heard in support of or in opposition to the Settlement Agreement.

         5. Based on the papers filed with the Court and the presentations made to the Court at the hearing, the Court now gives final approval to the Settlement and finds that the Settlement Agreement is fair, adequate, reasonable, and in the best interests of the Settlement Class. This finding is supported by, among other things, the complex legal and factual posture of the Action, the fact that the Settlement Agreement is the result of arm's length negotiations, and the settlement benefits being made available to Settlement Class Members.

         6. Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(c), the Court certifies, for settlement purposes only, the following class:

All persons who, at any time from October 5, 2014, through the date of the Settlement Agreement, were assessed or paid a “victim assessment fee” related to a proceeding in the Columbus Recorder's Court or any similar fee for dismissal or non-prosecution of a criminal action in the Columbus Recorder's Court, including but not limited to, any fees assessed or paid by any persons pursuant to former section 2.15.2(1) of the Columbus Code of Ordinances.

         7. Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(g), Cleopatra Harrison is hereby appointed as Class Representative and the following are hereby appointed as Class Counsel:

Sarah Geraghty Ryan Primerano Southern Center for Human Rights 83 Poplar Street N.W. Atlanta, GA 30303
Mark C. Post Harp, Poydasheff, Post & Sowers, LLC P.O. Box 1172 Columbus, GA 31902

         8. With respect to the Settlement Class, this Court finds, for settlement purposes only, that: (a) the Settlement Class is so numerous that joinder of all members is impracticable; (b) there are questions of law or fact common to the Settlement Class; (c) the claims of the Class Representative, identified above, are typical of the claims of the Settlement Class; (d) the Class Representative will fairly and adequately protect the interests of the Settlement Class; (e) the questions of law or fact common to the members of the Settlement Class predominate over the questions affecting only individual members, and (f) certification of the Settlement Class is superior to other available methods for the fair and efficient adjudication of the controversy. The Court further finds that: (g) the members of the Settlement Class have a limited interest in individually prosecuting the claims at issue; (h) the Court is satisfied with the Parties' representations that they are unaware of any other litigation commenced regarding the claims at issue by members of the Settlement Class; (i) it is desirable to concentrate the claims in this forum; and (j) it is unlikely that there will be difficulties encountered in administering this Settlement.

         9. The Court has determined that the notice given to the Settlement Class, in accordance with the Notice Plan in the Settlement Agreement and the Preliminary Approval Order, fully and accurately informed members of the Settlement Class of all material elements of the Settlement and constituted the best notice practicable under the circumstances, and fully ...


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