Tue, May 28, 2024

Recent California Developments in Case Management Orders Impacting Administration Duties

As a leader in settlement administration, Kroll pays close attention to new developments impacting key issues affecting our clients and class members.

Courts are generally taking increasingly proactive roles managing the details of class action settlements. Recently in the Superior Court for the State of California, County of Riverside, a Court issued California Rule of Court 3.714(c)(1), that imposed additional requirements on the parties in a complex class action.

As a threshold matter, the case management order authorizes a court to exempt a general civil case from the case disposition time goals under 3.713(b) if it finds the case involves exceptional circumstances that will prevent the court and parties from meeting the program’s time parameters. If a court deems a case exempt from case disposition time goals, 3.714(c)(2) requires the court to establish a case disposition plan, or a Case Management Order, and ensure timely disposition consistent with the exceptional circumstances.

In a recent complex case in which the Court found exceptional circumstances pursuant to 3.713(b), the Court entered a Class Action Case Management Order, which imposed detailed requirements upon the parties and the settlement administrator related to the Notice of Settlement, the Motion for Final Approval of the Settlement, Distribution, and the Final Report (non-appearance) Hearing. These requirements emphasize greater disclosures to class members and the minimal information necessary from class members in order to file a claim.

Requirements of the Notice of Settlement

The Proposed Notice

The Notice must notify claimants of the estimated likely recovery of individual class members, or if not known, the average recovery or range of recoveries. The Notice is required to describe in detail where class members can obtain a copy of the settlement agreement and describe the release. While such disclosures are common in class notices, somewhat less common is the Order’s requirement that the Notice “avoid discouraging objections,” clearly state that the court has determined only that the settlement might be fair, adequate and reasonable, and indicate that a final decision will be made at the Final Approval Hearing.

The Proposed Claim Form

The claim form shall not require claimants to provide more information than is necessary to identify the claimant, process the claim, and contact the claimant to clarify any uncertainties. While this is consistent with a growing trend disfavoring complex claim forms, it may create complexities in managing the growing trend of mass claim filing by suspicious actors.

The Proposed Objection Form

The objection form is required to instruct objectors that any objection must be delivered to the settlement administrator, provide the name and address of the administrator, and the date by which the objection must be mailed or otherwise delivered. The information required by the objection form shall not exceed the minimum information necessary to identify the objector as a person entitled to object to the settlement, describe the nature and basis of the objection, and contact the objector if there are any uncertainties.

The Proposed Exclusion Form

The exclusion form must instruct class members where and by which date they must mail or otherwise deliver the exclusion form to the settlement administrator. The information required by the exclusion form shall not exceed the minimum information necessary to identify the person as a class member and contact the person if there are any uncertainties.

Requirements of Motions for Final Approval

The Motion for Final Approval must be accompanied by a declaration from the settlement administrator that includes a description of the administrator’s distribution of the notice, objection form, exclusion form, and any claim form, and the results thereof. If claims are required, the settlement administrator shall describe the number of claims received and the total value of those claims, and clearly distinguish between valid claim forms and any forms that are untimely, incomplete, or otherwise invalid.

The settlement administrator is required to attach and authenticate copies of the notice, objection form, exclusion form, and any claim form. The administrator shall also attach and authenticate a copy of every objection form received, and a copy of every exclusion form received. If any form received is not in English, the administrator shall translate that form into English. These requirements are more involved than typical practice, which for instance in the context of exclusions are simply identified by reference to the individual, not by attaching a copy of every exclusion received.

The settlement administrator is also required to describe the services provided by the administrator to date and any services to be provided after the date of the declaration, the time and expenses incurred to provide those services (respectively), and either the fees charged to date and for future services or the agreed-upon flat-fee.


The Case Management Order requires that the envelope transmitting the settlement distribution shall bear the notation, “YOUR CLASS ACTION SETTLEMENT CHECK IS ENCLOSED.” Further, any settlement distribution shall be valid for not less than 90 days but not more than 180 days from the date of mailing. The administrator shall mail a reminder postcard to any class member whose check is not cashed within 60 days of the date of mailing. If any class member is a current employee of defendant, and their settlement distribution is returned as undeliverable and the administrator is unable to locate a valid mailing address, the administrator shall arrange with the defendant to have those distributions delivered to the employees at their place of work. This added requirement works when the defendant has an ongoing relationship with class members, such as in an employment class action. These requirements create constraints on certain cost-saving measures sometimes employed. For instance, it suggests that all payments must be made by paper check, rather than allow claimants to choose to receive their payments via electronic/digital means. In that regard, the Court’s requirements run counter to recent trends out of California federal courts encouraging the use of digital means of payment.

Final Report (Non-appearance) Hearing

Within five days of the non-appearance hearing, a declaration must be filed by the administrator or other declarant with personal knowledge of the facts, which describes the date the checks were mailed, the total number of checks mailed to class members, the average amount of those checks, the total number of checks that remain uncashed, the total value of those uncashed checks, the average amount of the uncashed checks, and the nature and date of the disposition of those unclaimed funds.

In Summary

When counsel is considering the settlement administration in cases exempted from California’s disposition time goals, the additional requirements upon the parties and the settlement administrator discussed herein are important to keep in mind. Special consideration to the Notice of Settlement, the Motion for Final Approval of the Settlement, Distribution, and the Final Report (non-appearance) Hearing is required.

Kroll Settlement Administration’s team has experience with California’s new Case Management Orders and is happy to assist on any of your current or future cases that may be impacted. Please contact one of our experts today or request a proposal.

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