United States District Court, E.D. North Carolina, Western Division
TERESA M. SPEAKS, TOBY SPEAKS, STANLEY SMITH, EDDIE BROWN, ROBERT POINDEXTER, MIKE MITCHELL, ROY L. COOK, ALEX SHUGART, H. RANDLE WOOD, ROBIN ROGERS and DANIEL LEE NELSON, Plaintiffs,
U.S. TOBACCO COOPERATIVE, INC. f/k/a FLUE-CURED TOBACCO COOPERATIVE STABILIZATION CORPORATION, Defendants.
ORDER PRELIMINARILY APPROVING SETTLEMENT
HONORABLE JAMES C. DEVER, III UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Plaintiffs and Defendant ("U.S. Tobacco" or
"Defendant") have entered into a "Stipulation
and Agreement of Class Action Compromise, Settlement and
Release" (herein the "Settlement Agreement")
intended to resolve, on a global basis, this litigation in
the Court against the Defendant arising out of claims
inter alia, that the fundamental purposes for which
U.S. Tobacco was created had ceased to exist, and that the
actions of U.S. Tobacco were unfair and would have the effect
of divesting or eliminating the value of Plaintiffs'
alleged equity interests in U.S. Tobacco. The Plaintiffs
asserted a claim for distribution of U.S. Tobacco's,
assets, a claim for declaratory judgment, or, alternatively,
a claim for judicial dissolution of U.S. Tobacco. U.S.
Tobacco denies Plaintiffs' allegations; and
this Court has jurisdiction over the subject matter and all
Parties to this proceeding and venue is proper in this
the proposed Settlement is the result of arm's-length
negotiations between the Parties and not the result of
collusion, bears a probable reasonable relationship to the
claims alleged by the Plaintiffs and the litigation risks of
Plaintiffs and Defendant, and the proposed settlement is
within the range of possible judicial approval; and
the Court has reviewed the papers filed in connection with
the Motion and considered all supporting evidence in the
record and as presented by counsel; and
the Court is satisfied that the terms and conditions set
forth in the Settlement Agreement are fair and satisfy the
requirements of Fed.R.Civ.P. 23, and the Court is exercising
its discretion in preliminarily certifying the Class for
settlement purposes only and has not determined whether the
Action could be properly maintained on behalf of a Class for
purposes of trial; and
the Court recognizes that the Released Parties have preserved
all of their defenses and objections against and rights to
oppose certification of the Class if the proposed Settlement
is not finally approved by the Court following the Final
Approval Hearing or any appeals:
IS HEREBY ORDERED AS FOLLOWS:
capitalized terms used in this Order shall have the same
meanings assigned to them in the Settlement Agreement.
terms of the Parties' Settlement Agreement are hereby
preliminarily approved, subject to further consideration
thereof at the Final Approval Hearing provided for below.
Court finds the Settlement is sufficiently fair, reasonable
and adequate to justify notice to those affected, along with
an opportunity to be heard, pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 23(e).
respect to the Settlement Class, the Court finds that the
requirements of Fed.R.Civ.P. 23(a) have been satisfied for
settlement purposes in that: (i) the Class Members are
sufficiently numerous so as to make joinder of all Class
Members impracticable; (ii) there are questions of fact and
law that are common to all members of the Class; (iii) the
claims of the Named Plaintiffs are typical of the claims of
the Class; and (iv) the Named Plaintiffs will fairly and
adequately protect the interests of the Class.
respect to the Settlement Class, the Court further finds that
the requirements of Fed.R.Civ.P. 23(b)(3) have been satisfied
for settlement purposes in that: (i) questions of law and
fact common to the Class Members predominate over any
questions affecting only individual members; and (ii) a class
action is superior to other available methods for the fair
and efficient adjudication of this controversy.
Court therefore grants preliminary approval to the
Settlement. The Settlement shall be submitted to Class
Members for their consideration and for a Final Approval
Hearing pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 23(e), as provided below.
Court preliminarily certifies, for settlement purposes only,
the following . Settlement Class:
All individuals, proprietorships, partnerships, corporations
and other entities that are or were shareholders and/or
members of U.S. Tobacco at any time during the Class Period,
without any exclusion, including any heirs, representatives,
executors, powers-of-attorney, successors, assigns or others
purporting to act for or on their behalf with respect to U.S.
Tobacco and/or the Settled Claims.
Court preliminary finds that Named Plaintiffs have claims
typical of Class Members and are adequate class