Settlement Approvals: Like Selling a Boat?

There is a well-known quip about the two best days for boat owners: the day when the owner buys it and the day when he sells it. We’ve previously referred to case law emphasizing the need for more active supervision of settlements, particularly with respect to commonality issues, but the fact remains that judges are often happy to have a class action in their court go away. Indeed, when plaintiffs and defendants unite in their application, and the objectors are few and subdued, settlements most often go through. We highlight Judge Norton’s decision preliminarily approving a settlement in Case v. Plantation Title Co., No. 9:12-CV-2518 (D.S.C. March 5, 2015), not because it is groundbreaking, but because it falls into the mainstream of such approvals. The case was vigorously litigated (there are over 286 docket entries), and it had been filed in 2012. So it doesn’t surprise us that Judge Norton discerned a “strong judicial policy in favor of settlements, particularly in the class action context,” nor that he cited a 25-year-old decision in accord with that sentiment. If you need a quote to support settlement, consider this one from the opinion: “[S]ettlement classes have proved to be quite useful in resolving major class action disputes. While their use may still be controversial, most courts have recognized their utility and authorized the parties to seek to compromise their differences, including class action issues, through this means.” And best of luck in selling your boat.