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Thompson v. State Farm Fire and Casualty Co.

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

January 14, 2019

JOHN THOMPSON and LEIGH ANN THOMPSON, Individually and on Behalf of All Others Similarly Situated, Plaintiffs,
v.
STATE FARM FIRE AND CASUALTY COMPANY, Defendant. TONYA LONG and JASON LONG, individually and on behalf of all those similarly situated, Plaintiffs,
v.
STATE FARM FIRE AND CASUALTY COMPANY, Defendant.

          ORDER

          MARC T. TREADWELL, JUDGE

         WHEREAS, Plaintiffs John and Leigh Ann Thompson, on behalf of themselves and a settlement class of similarly-situated persons (defined below as the “Thompson Settlement Class”), Tonya and Jason Long, on behalf of themselves and a settlement class of similarly-situated persons (defined below as the “Long Settlement Class”) and Defendant State Farm Fire and Casualty Company entered into a Settlement Agreement[1] dated May 8, 2018; and

         WHEREAS, the Court entered an Order on August 10, 2018 (“Preliminary Approval Order”), approving consolidation of the Actions for purposes of settlement under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure Rule 42, preliminarily approving the Settlement, preliminarily certifying the Settlement Classes for settlement purposes under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure Rule 23(b)(3), ordering that notice be disseminated to the Settlement Classes, scheduling a Fairness Hearing for January 7, 2019, and providing Settlement Class Members with an opportunity to opt-out of the Settlement Class and/or object to the proposed Settlement or to Class Counsel attorneys' fees and costs and/or the Plaintiffs' incentive awards; and

         WHEREAS, the Court held a Fairness Hearing on January 7, 2019, to determine whether to grant final approval to the Settlement Agreement; and

         WHEREAS, the Court is contemporaneously issuing a Judgment that, among other things, certifies the Settlement Classes, approves the Settlement Agreement, and dismisses the Settlement Class Members' claims with prejudice as to State Farm;

         NOW THEREFORE, it is hereby ORDERED, ADJUDGED AND DECREED as follows:

         1. Incorporation of Settlement Documents.

         This Order Approving Settlement (the “Order”) incorporates and makes a part hereof the Settlement Agreement, including all exhibits thereto. The Settlement Agreement and all exhibits thereto shall be referred to collectively as the “Settlement Agreement.”

         2. Jurisdiction.

         The Court has personal jurisdiction over all Settlement Class Members (as defined below) and has subject matter jurisdiction over these Actions, including, without limitation, jurisdiction to consolidate the Actions for settlement purposes, approve the Settlement Agreement, grant final certification of the Settlement Class for settlement purposes, and dismiss the Actions with prejudice.

         3. Final Settlement Class Certification and Definition.

         The Settlement Classes this Court preliminarily certified are hereby finally certified for settlement purposes under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure Rule 23(b)(3). The Settlement Classes are defined as follows:

“Thompson Settlement Class” means all current and former policyholders insured under a State Farm homeowners insurance policy that provided coverage for property located in the State of Georgia, who presented Coverage A-Dwelling Claims with dates of loss between January 22, 2008 and January 24, 2017, which Claims were coded with Cause of Loss Codes 17 (flood), 37 (water), and 47 (back-up of sewer or drain), but excluding (a) Class Counsel and (b) any person who makes a timely election to be excluded from the Thompson Settlement Class as provided in this Agreement.
“Long Settlement Class” means the combined categories of persons with “Long Water Loss Claims” and “Long Non-Water Loss Claims, ” defined below, but excluding (a) Class Counsel and (b) any person who makes a timely election to be excluded from the Long Settlement Class as provided in this Agreement.
“Long Water Loss Claims” means Claims by all current and former policyholders insured under a State Farm homeowners insurance policy that provided coverage for property located in the State of Georgia, who presented Coverage A-Dwelling Claims with dates of loss between January 25, 2017 and February 4, 2018, which Claims were coded with Cause of Loss Codes 17 (flood), 37 (water), and 47 (back-up of sewer or drain), and which claims were reported to State Farm on or before February 4, 2018.
“Long Non-Water Loss Claims” are Claims by all current and former policyholders insured under a State Farm homeowners insurance policy that provided coverage for property located in the State of Georgia, who presented Coverage A-Dwelling Claims with dates of loss between January 25, 2011 and February 4, 2018, which Claims were coded with Cause of Loss Codes other than 17 (flood), 37 (water), and 47 (backup of sewer or drain), were reported to State Farm on or before February 4, 2018, and which fall into one of the following categories: (a) fire Claims, as indicated by Cause of Loss Code 33; (b) wind / hail Claims, as indicated by Cause of Loss Code 35; (c) Claims which include Reason Code M (remediation of mold) or which contain a payment under the “Fungus (including mold) endorsement”; and (d) Claims with foundation repairs included on the Xactimate estimate(s) prepared by State Farm.
“Settlement Classes” as used herein refers to the Thompson Settlement Class and the Long Settlement Class combined. “Settlement Class Members” as used herein means all members of the combined Thompson Settlement Class and the Long Settlement Class.

         4. Issue for Certification.

         The issue that the Court is deciding on a class-wide basis is whether the terms of the proposed Settlement are fair, reasonable, and adequate pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure Rule 23(e) and governing law construing that Rule. In making that determination, the Court also has considered, as discussed herein, whether proper notice of the Proposed Settlement was given under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure Rule 23(c)(2)(B) and Federal Rule of Civil Procedure Rule 23(e)(1) to the Settlement Class and any other relevant persons so that the Settlement Agreement's terms will have binding effect.

         5. Adequacy of Representation.

         The Plaintiffs and Class Counsel have fully and adequately represented the Settlement Classes for purposes of entering into and implementing the Settlement Agreement and have satisfied the requirements of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure Rule 23(a)(4).

         6. Notice.

         The Court finds that the distribution of the Notice and the notice methodology were implemented in accordance with the terms of the Settlement Agreement and this Court's Preliminary Approval Order. The Court further finds that the Notice was simply written and readily understandable, and that the Notice and notice methodology: (a) constituted the best practicable notice; (b) constituted notice that was reasonably calculated, under the circumstances, to apprise Settlement Class Members of the consolidation and pendency of the Actions and the claims in the Actions, their rights to object to the proposed settlement and to appear at the Fairness Hearing, and their right to exclude themselves from the Settlement Classes; (c) were reasonable and constituted due, adequate, and sufficient notice to all persons entitled to notice; and (d) met all applicable requirements of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the United States Constitution (including the Due Process Clause), the Rules of the Court, and any other applicable law.

         7. Final ...


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