Over a strong dissent, this opinion reverses a final judgment after final approval of a nationwide class action settlement. The opinion holds that the district court erred in failing to conduct an appropriate analysis of the choice of law issues raised by the action’s state law claims. Applying California’s choice of law rules, the laws of all 50 states would apply. Because of variations in state law, common issues would not predominate. So it was error to certify a nationwide settlement class. While manageability concerns that might prevent trial of a class action may be overlooked in the settlement context, the predominance of common issues under Rule 23(b)(3) cannot be ignored, and indeed must be given increased scrutiny in the settlement context. The district court also erred in awarding attorney fees. It awarded them on a lodestar basis but failed to adequately cross-check its result under that method with the percentage of common recovery method. Here, the benefits to class members from the settlement were small when objectively evaluated and so a proper cross-check might have revealed that the fees were too high.
Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal (Ikuta, J.; Nguyen, dissenting); January 23, 2018; 2018 WL 505343.