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Epstein v. World Acceptance Corp.

United States District Court, D. South Carolina

December 18, 2017

EDNA SELAN EPSTEIN, Individually and o Behalf of All Others Similarly Situated, Plaintiff,
v.
WORLD ACCEPTANCE CORPORATION, et al., Defendants.

         CLASS ACTION

          ORDER AND FINAL JUDGMENT

          MARY GEIGER LEWIS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         On the 18th day of December, 2017, a hearing having been held before this Court pursuant to the Second Amended Order Preliminarily Approving Settlement and Providing for Notice dated August 31, 2017 (the “Preliminary Approval Order”) to determine: (1) whether the terms and conditions of the Stipulation of Settlement dated August 24, 2017 (the “Stipulation”), are fair, reasonable and adequate for the settlement of all claims asserted by the Settlement Class against the Defendants in the operative complaint now pending in this Court under the above caption (the “Litigation”), including the release of the Released Persons, and should be approved; (2) whether judgment should be entered dismissing the Litigation on the merits and with prejudice in favor of the Defendants herein and as against all persons or entities who are Members of the Settlement Class herein who have not timely and validly requested exclusion therefrom; (3) whether to approve the Plan of Allocation as a fair and reasonable method to allocate the settlement proceeds among the Members of the Settlement Class; and (4) whether and in what amount to award Lead Plaintiff's Counsel fees and expenses and Lead Plaintiff's expenses. The Court having considered all matters submitted to it at the hearing and otherwise; and it appearing that a notice of the hearing substantially in the form approved by the Court was mailed to all individuals and entities, reasonably identifiable, who purchased or otherwise acquired World Acceptance Corporation (“World Acceptance”) common stock during the period between January 30, 2013 and August 10, 2015, inclusive (the “Class Period”), as shown by the records compiled by the Claims Administrator in connection with its mailing of the Notice, at the respective addresses set forth in such records, and that a summary notice of the hearing, substantially in the form approved by the Court, was published pursuant to the Preliminary Approval Order as set forth in the Declaration of Alexander P. Villanova; and the Court having considered and determined the fairness and reasonableness of the award of attorneys' fees and expenses requested by Lead Counsel; and all capitalized terms used herein having the meanings set forth and defined in the Stipulation.

         NOW, THEREFORE, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED THAT:

         1. The Court has jurisdiction over the subject matter of this Litigation and all matters relating to the Settlement, as well as personal jurisdiction over the Lead Plaintiff, all Settlement Class Members and Defendants.

         2. For purposes of the Settlement only, the Court finds that the prerequisites for a class action under Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 23(a) and 23(b)(3) have been satisfied in that: (a) the number of Settlement Class Members is so numerous that joinder of all members thereof is impracticable; (b) there are questions of law and fact common to the Settlement Class; (c) the claims of Lead Plaintiff are typical of the claims of the Settlement Class it seeks to represent; (d) Lead Plaintiff and Lead Counsel have and will fairly and adequately represent the interests of the Settlement Class; (e) the questions of law and fact common to the Members of the Settlement Class predominate over any questions affecting only individual Settlement Class Members; and (f) a class action is superior to other available methods for the fair and efficient adjudication of the controversy.

         3. The Court hereby finally certifies this action as a class action, for settlement purposes only, pursuant to Rules 23(a) and (b)(3) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure on behalf of a Settlement Class consisting of all Persons who purchased or otherwise acquired World Acceptance common stock between January 30, 2013 and August 10, 2015, inclusive. Excluded from the Settlement Class are: World Acceptance; the affiliates and subsidiaries of World Acceptance; the Individual Defendants; members of the Immediate Family of each of the Individual Defendants; the Officers and directors of World Acceptance during the Class Period; the heirs, successors, and assigns of any excluded person or entity; and any entity in which any excluded person has or had a controlling interest. By definition, also excluded from the Settlement Class are those persons who timely and validly exclude themselves therefrom, of which there are none.

         4. Pursuant to Rule 23 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, and for settlement purposes only, the Court hereby affirms its determinations in the Preliminary Approval Order certifying Lead Plaintiff as the class representative for the Settlement Class and appointing Lead Counsel as class counsel for the Settlement Class. Lead Plaintiff and Lead Counsel have fairly and adequately represented the Settlement Class both in terms of litigating the action and for purposes of entering into and implementing the Settlement and have satisfied the requirements of Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 23(a)(4) and 23(g), respectively.

         5. Notice of the pendency of this Litigation as a class action and of the proposed Settlement was given to all Settlement Class Members who could be identified with reasonable effort. The Court finds that the form and method of notifying the Settlement Class of the pendency of this Litigation as a class action and of the terms and conditions of the proposed Settlement: (a) were implemented in accordance with the Preliminary Approval Order; (b) constituted the best notice practicable under the circumstances; (c) constituted notice that was reasonably calculated, under the circumstances, to apprise Settlement Class Members of (i) the pendency of the Litigation; (ii) the effect of the proposed Settlement (including the releases to be provided thereunder); (iii) Lead Counsel's application for fees and expenses and Lead Plaintiff's expenses; (iv) their right to object to any aspect of the Settlement, the Plan of Allocation, and/or Lead Counsel's application for fees and expenses and Lead Plaintiff's expenses; (v) the right to exclude themselves from the Settlement Class; and (vi) their right to appear at the Settlement Hearing; (d) constituted due, adequate, and sufficient notice to all persons and entities entitled to receive notice of the proposed Settlement; and (e) satisfied the requirements of Rule 23 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the United States Constitution (including the Due Process Clause), Section 21 of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, 15 U.S.C. §78u-4(a)(7), as amended by the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 (the “PSLRA”), 15 U.S.C. §78u-4, et seq., as amended, and all other applicable laws and rules.

         6. Defendants have filed a Declaration Regarding Compliance with the Class Action Fairness Act of 2005 (“CAFA”), 28 U.S.C. §1715, et seq. Defendants timely mailed notice of the Stipulation pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §1715(b), including notices to the Attorney General of the United States of America, and the Attorneys General of all States in which Members of the Settlement Class reside. The notice contains the documents and information required by 28 U.S.C. §1715(b)(1)-(8). The Court finds that Defendants have complied in all respects with the requirements of 28 U.S.C. §1715.

         7. Pursuant to, and in accordance with, Rule 23 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the Court hereby fully and finally approves the Settlement set forth in the Stipulation in all respects (including, without limitation, the amount of the Settlement; the releases provided for therein, and the dismissal with prejudice of the claims asserted in the Litigation), and finds that the Settlement is, in all respects, fair, reasonable, adequate, and in the best interests of the Settlement Class. Subject to the terms and provisions of the Stipulation and the conditions therein being satisfied, the parties are directed to consummate the Settlement.

         8. All of the claims asserted in the Litigation are hereby dismissed in their entirety with prejudice. The Settling Parties shall bear their own costs and expenses, except as otherwise expressly provided in the Stipulation.

         9. The terms of the Stipulation and of this Judgment shall be forever binding on Lead Plaintiff, Defendants, and all other Settlement Class Members (regardless of whether or not any individual Settlement Class Member submits a Proof of Claim or seeks or obtains a distribution from the Net Settlement Fund), as well as their respective successors and assigns.

         10. The releases as set forth in ¶¶5.1-5.4 of the Stipulation (the “Releases”), together with the definitions contained in ¶¶1.1-1.34 relating thereto, are expressly incorporated herein in ...


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