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Hayes v. Citizens Financial Group, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

October 2, 2017

SCOTT HAYES and JASMEET HAYES, jointly and on behalf of a class of similarly situated persons, Plaintiffs,
v.
CITIZENS FINANCIAL GROUP, INC., et al., Defendants.

          CLASS ACTION SETTLEMENT PRELIMINARY APPROVAL ORDER

          Richard G. Stearns, United States District Court Judge

         Scott Hayes and Jasmeet Hayes ("Named Plaintiffs"), jointly and in their putative representative capacity as plaintiffs on behalf of others similarly situated, and defendants Citizens Financial Group, Inc., Citizens Bank, N.A. f/k/a RBS Citizens Bank, N.A., and Citizens Bank of Pennsylvania (collectively "Citizens"), by and through their respective counsel, have advised the Court that they have agreed to a settlement ("Settlement") of this action ("Action") upon the terms and conditions set forth in the Parties' Settlement Agreement and Release, dated September 25, 2017 ("Settlement Agreement"). Named Plaintiffs' counsel filed the Settlement Agreement as an exhibit to their motion requesting the Court to preliminarily approve the Settlement, send notice of the Settlement to the Class Members (defined below), and schedule a hearing to determine the ultimately fairness, reasonableness, and adequacy of the Settlement ("Fairness Hearing").

         The Court has preliminarily reviewed and considered the Settlement embodied in the Settlement Agreement, the exhibits thereto, Plaintiffs' motion for preliminary approval, Plaintiffs' supporting memorandum and the affidavit from Plaintiffs' counsel. Based on that review and consideration, the Court makes the following findings and, furthermore, it is hereby ORDERED, ADJUDGED and DECREED as follows:

         1. The Court adopts the terms defined in the Settlement Agreement for the purpose of this Class Action Settlement Preliminary Approval Order ("Preliminary Approval Order"). Capitalized terms used in this Preliminary Approval Order shall have the meanings ascribed to them in the Settlement Agreement unless otherwise stated.

         2. The Parties' Settlement appears to have resulted from arm's-length negotiations between the Parties' counsel and after the Parties' counsel conducted a reasonable investigation and analysis of the facts and law concerning the claims asserted in this Action. Accordingly, the Court preliminarily finds and concludes that the Settlement is within the range of fairness, reasonableness, and adequacy such that (a) Notice should be sent to the Class Members for the purposes of determining whether the Class Members will exclude themselves from participating in the Settlement as Settlement Class Members or whether any Settlement Class member has any objections to the Settlement, and (b) after Notice and a ruling on any timely and valid objections, the Court will finally consider and determine whether the Settlement is fair, reasonable, and adequate as to the Settlement Class Members at a Fairness Hearing.

         3. The Court, in its discretion and for Settlement purposes only, conditionally certifies the Class as:

Any person who holds or held, individually or jointly, one or more of the 41, 064 Citizens or Charter One Bank Home Equity Line of Credit accounts and Line of Credit accounts identified by Citizens as possibly having been charged an annual account fee (or portion thereof) in error on or before December 31, 2016. The following persons are excluded from the Settlement Class: all persons who are officers or directors of Citizens or any of its subsidiaries, as well as Judges of the Court.

         4. Pursuant to Rule 23 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the Court, in its discretion and for settlement purposes only, conditionally finds that:

(a) the Class is so numerous that joinder is impracticable;
(b) there are questions of law or fact common to the Class;
(c) the claims of the Named Plaintiffs are typical of the claims of the Class;
(d) the Named Plaintiffs and Class Counsel are capable of fairly and adequately protecting the interests of the Class and there does not appear to exists any conflicts of interest among them and the Class Members;
(e) common questions of law and fact predominate over questions affecting only individual Class Members; accordingly, the Class is sufficiently cohesive to warrant adjudication through settlement by representation; and
(f) the Settlement is superior to other available methods for the fair and efficient resolution of ...

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