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Norcold Inc. and Consumers Get Final Approval on Settlement

A $36 million consumer class action settlement, brought against Norcold, Inc.("Norcold" or the "Company") was approved by Judge Staton of the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. Judge Staton approved the settlement despite the fact that a group of consumers, who were former class members, had objected arguing that the class was entitled to higher compensation.

Plaintiffs Jeffery and Susan Etter, along with three other individuals, originated the suit in 2012 in California state court. The case was later removed to federal court in 2013. The complaint alleged that Norcold's RV were defective. Specifically alleging that the refrigerators corroded, cracked, and leaked, which could cause the units to catch fire. Later more plaintiffs were added to the suit, creating a total of 16 named plaintiffs.

The case eventually found its way to mediation. However, during the course of mediation one of the plaintiffs' lawyers decided that he was unhappy with the mediation and walked away. When he departed he took a group of class members with him who, even after the departure, continued to push for discovery. Their efforts in continuing to push for discovery were partially successful and may have contributed to a higher class settlement. Ultimately, the class decided to settle for $36 million. Those former class members who had split off, fought against approval of the deal. They argued the class definition was too narrow and that consumers were entitled to a larger settlement.

Judge Staton dismissed the non-settling class's objections, since he saw the settlement as reasonable. The fund will be divided so that $9 million goes towards attorneys' fees, $7,500 will be paid to each named plaintiff and the rest of the fund will go directly to consumers. The settling class members stated that they were happy with the settlement, citing difficulties with keeping the class certification and maintaining litigation costs as reasons for their agreement to settle.

The legal team at SFMS has significant experience litigating class action matters. If you have any questions regarding this subject or this posting, please contact Nick Lussier (nlussier@sfmslaw.com) or Chiharu Sekino (csekino@sfmslaw.com). We can also be reached toll-free at (866) 540-5505.

Shepherd, Finkelman, Miller & Shah, LLP is a law firm with offices in California, Connecticut, Florida, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. SFMS is an active member of Integrated Advisory Group (www.iaginternational.org), which provides us with the ability to provide our clients with access to excellent legal and accounting resources throughout the globe. For more information about our firm, please visit us at www.sfmslaw.com.

Sources

Trader, Steven. "Judge OKs $36M Deal For Bad RV Fridges, Denying Objectors." Law360. Porfolio Media Inc., 25 Oct. 2016. Web. 

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