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Harbin v. Emergency Coverage Corporation

United States District Court, E.D. Tennessee, Knoxville

May 17, 2018

DUSTIN HARBIN and JIMMY PRUITT, on behalf of themselves and the class defined herein, Plaintiffs,

          Magistrate Judge H. Bruce Guyton



         On April 16, 2018, United States Magistrate Judge H. Bruce Guyton filed his report and recommendation pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). (Doc. 54.) Magistrate Judge Guyton recommended that the parties' settlement agreement (Doc. 43-1) be approved in its entirety. (Doc. 54.) Neither party has filed any objections to Magistrate Judge Guyton's report and recommendation.[1] Additionally, as noted by Magistrate Judge Guyton, no objections were filed to the proposed settlement agreement or presented at the fairness hearing. (Id. at 1.) Nevertheless, the Court has conducted a review of the report and recommendation, as well as the record, and it agrees with Magistrate Judge Guyton's well-reasoned conclusions. Accordingly, the Court will ACCEPT and ADOPT Magistrate Judge Guyton's report and recommendation (Doc. 54).

         Upon consideration of the Parties' request for final approval of the Class Settlement Agreement (“Agreement”) between Plaintiffs, Dustin Harbin and Jimmy Pruitt (“Plaintiffs”), individually, and as representatives of the class of persons defined below (“Settlement Class”), and Defendants, Account Resolution Team and Emergency Coverage Corporation, the Court orders and finds as follows:

         1. This Court has jurisdiction over the subject matter of this lawsuit, Plaintiffs, Settlement Class members, and Defendants.

         2. The following Settlement Class is certified pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 23(b)(3):

(a) All persons sued by Defendants; (b) in the General Session Court of Hamblen County, Tennessee; (c) that had garnishments issued against their wages that included amounts of post-judgment interest or fees that exceeded the amount allowed under Tennessee state law; (d) that made payments to Defendants as a result of the wrongful garnishments issued to their employers by garnishment of wages or direct payment to the clerk between March 16, 2013 and ending on April 5, 2016.

         3. Based on the Parties' stipulations: (A) the Settlement Class as defined is sufficiently numerous such that joinder is impracticable; (B) common questions of law and fact predominate over any questions affecting only individual Settlement Class members; (C) the claim of Plaintiffs are typical of the Settlement Class members' claims; (D) Plaintiffs are appropriate and adequate representatives for the Class and their attorneys, Alan C. Lee, Peter A Holland, and Scott C Borison, are hereby appointed as Class Counsel; and (E) a class action is the superior method for the fair and efficient adjudication of the claims of the Settlement Class members.

         4. The Court approved a form of notice for mailing to the Settlement Class. The Court is informed that actual notice was sent by first class mail to approximately 119 Settlement Class members by First Class, Inc., the third-party settlement administrator. A total of seventeen envelopes were returned by the United States Postal Service, none of which were returned with forwarding addresses and re-mailed. No Settlement Class members requested exclusion, and no objections were filed or received. A total of 119 Settlement Class members are entitled to a share of the monetary benefits of the settlement.

         5. On March 26, 2018, Magistrate Judge Guyton held a fairness hearing to which Settlement Class members, including any with objections, were invited. Excluded from the Settlement Class are those persons who timely and validly requested exclusion.

         6. The Court finds that provisions for notice to the class satisfy the requirements due process pursuant to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, including Rule 23, the United States Constitution and any other applicable law.

         7. The Court finds that the settlement is fair, reasonable, and adequate and hereby finally approves the Agreement submitted by the Parties, including the Release and payments by PRS. Upon the Effective Date, as that term is defined in the Agreement, Defendants shall make the following payments:

(a) Defendants shall create a class settlement fund of $1, 360.00 (“Class Recovery”), which the Class Administrator shall distribute among those Settlement Class Members who did not exclude themselves (“Claimants”). Claimants will receive a $10.00 payment from the Class Recovery by check. The shares of any of the Settlement Class Members who could not be located will be donated as a cy pres award to East Tennessee Children's Hospital, and the award will be expressly earmarked for the benefit of infants afflicted with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS). Checks issued to Claimants will be void sixty days from the date of issuance. Any checks that have not been cashed by the void ...

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