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Takiguchi v. MRI International, Inc.
United States District Court, D. Nevada
December 12, 2019
SHIGE TAKIGUCHI, FUMI NONAKA, MITSUAKI TAKITA, TATSURO SAKAI, SHIZUKO ISHIMORI, YUKO NAKAMURA, MASAAKI MORIYA, HATSUNE HATANO, and HIDENAO TAKAMA, Individually and On Behalf of All Others Similarity Situated, Plaintiff,
MRI INTERNATIONAL, INC., EDWIN J. FUJINAGA, JUNZO SUZUKI, PAUL MUSASHI SUZUKI, LVT, INC., dba STERLING ESCROW, and DOES 1-500, Defendants.
E. GIBBONS (pro hac vice) MANNING & KASS ELLROD, RAMIREZ,
TRESTER LLP ROBERT W. COHEN (pro hac vice) MARIKO TAENAKA
(pro hac vice) LAW OFFICES OF ROBERT W. COHEN, A.P.C.
Attorneys for Plaintiffs.
ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFFS' MOTION FOR FINAL
APPROVAL OF CLASS ACTION SETTLEMENTS WITH MRI INTERNATIONAL,
INC. AND EDWIN FUJINAGA
D. McKibben United States District Judge.
matter is before the Court on Plaintiff's Motion for
Final Approval of the proposed class action settlement (the
“Settlement”) between the representative
Plaintiffs Shige Takiguchi, et al. (“Plaintiffs”)
and Defendants MRI International, Inc. and Edwin Fujinaga
(“Defendants””). Having considered the
Motion, the Settlement Agreement, the pleadings and other
papers filed in these Actions, and all of the arguments and
evidence presented at the Final Approval hearing held on
November 26, 2019 and for good cause shown, IT IS HEREBY
ORDERED as follows:
1. Unless otherwise defined herein, all terms that are
capitalized herein shall have the meanings ascribed to those
terms in the Settlement Agreement.
2. The Court has jurisdiction over the subject matter of the
Settlement Agreement with respect to and over all parties to
the Settlement Agreement, including Class Members, MRI
International, Inc. and Edwin Fujinaga.
3. Final approval of a class action settlement is appropriate
under Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 23(e) if the
settlement “is fundamentally fair, adequate and
reasonable.” Officers for Justice v. Civil Serv.
Comm'n, 688 F.2d 615, 625 (9th Cir. 1982). In
determining whether the settlement is “fair, adequate
and reasonable, ” the Court should consider “the
strength of plaintiffs' case; the risk, expense,
complexity, and likely duration of further litigation; the
risk of maintaining class action status throughout the trial;
the amount offered in settlement; the extent of discovery
completed and the stage of the proceedings; the experience
and views of counsel; the presence of a governmental
participant; and the reaction of the class members to the
proposed settlement.” Id.
4. First, the Court is satisfied that the parties have
engaged in extensive litigation and that the Settlement was
reached after arms-length negotiations by capable counsel,
and was not the product of fraud, overreaching or collusion
among the parties.
5. Second, the risks of ongoing litigation also support the
Court's final approval of the Settlement. Through the
Settlement, the parties have reduced the scope of the ongoing
litigation and lessened the expense and burden of trial.
6. Third, although the Settlement does not result in a
monetary contribution by Defendants, the Settlement is fair
and reasonable in light of the fact that all of the assets
owned by Defendants are already in the possession and control
of the Court-appointed receiver in the parallel action,
U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission v. MRI
International, Inc., et. al., U.S. District Court of
Nevada, No. 2:13-cv-01658. The Settlement, however,
provides Plaintiffs with a $442, 200, 000 judgment, which
Plaintiffs will be able to enforce in the event undisclosed
assets are discovered. In return, Plaintiffs have agreed to a
reasonable and fair release of the claims against Defendants.
7. Fourth, the views of Plaintiffs' counsel, who are
experienced in litigating and settling antitrust class
actions, weigh in favor of final approval. Linney v.
Cellular Alaska P'Ship, No. 96-3008-DJL, 1997 WL
450064, at *5 (N.D. Cal. July 18, 1997), aff'd 151 F.3d
1234 (9th Cir. 1998). Plaintiffs' counsel have conducted
an extensive investigation into the factual and legal issues
raised in this Action and endorse the Settlements as fair,
adequate, and reasonable.
8. Finally, the reaction of the Class members supports final
approval. There were 23 requests for exclusion and 19 Class
Members who objected to the settlement out of approximately
8, 700 Class members.
9. Accordingly, the Court finds that the Settlement is fair,
adequate, and reasonable within the meaning of Federal Rules
of Civil Procedure 23(e).
10. Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 23(c)(2)(B) sets forth
the standards that must be met when sending notice of a
proposed class action settlement. It requires that the notice
be clear, concise and in plainly understood language, and
must set forth “(i) the nature of the action; (ii) the
definition of the class certified; (iii) the class claims,
issues, or defenses; (iv) that a class member may enter an
appearance through an attorney if the member so desires; (v)
that the court will exclude from the class any member who
requests exclusion; (vi) the time and manner for requesting
exclusion; and (vii) the binding effect of a class judgment
on members under Rule 23(c)(3).” 11. The Court finds
that the notice program approved by the Court on August 16,
2019 has been implemented and complies with Federal Rules of
Civil Procedure 23(c)(2)(B). Notice was sent to all Class
Members by mail. The notice provided a clear description of
Class Members' rights and options under the Settlement.
The notice explained how to request to be excluded from the
Settlement, how to object to the Settlement, how to obtain
copies of relevant documents, and how to contact Class
Counsel and the Notice Administrator.
12. The Notice Administrator, approved by the Court, set up a
telephone hotline and a website where Class Members can
access copies of the Settlement Agreement and other relevant
documents in both English and in Japanese. Class ...