Grand Theft Auto: Class Action Settlement – $26,505 for the unrepresented class, $1 million fee request

by Ted Frank on May 26, 2008

We now know how many people signed up for the Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas class action settlement out of the millions of members in the purported class.

Tier 1 (up to $35.00) (no exchange required): 416
Tier 2 (up to $17.50) (exchange required): 22
Tier 3 ($10.00) (exchange required): 131
Tier 4 ($5.00) (no exchange required): 2,050
Disc Exchange w/o cash: 57

2676 total claimants, receiving a total cash value of at most $26,505, though likely even less than that, given that the plaintiffs’ attorneys record no actual cash distribution.

The seven “representative” class members are asking for approval to receive another $24,500, or nearly half of the total cash recovery.

Of course, as we’ve discussed, none of these people had a legitimate cause of action or suffered any legally cognizable injury. But how much are the plaintiffs’ attorneys (from thirteen different offices of twelve different law firms!) asking for for this travesty of a lawsuit and settlement–one that was entirely redundant of the taxpayer-funded investigation conducted by the Los Angeles district attorney? They claim their time devoted to the litigation was worth $1,317,433, but are “generously” claiming a 28% discount for a total fees-and-costs request of $1 million.

Recognizing that this 3774% contingent fee looks fishy to the least scrutinizing of judges applying Rule 23 review, the plaintiffs have sought to inflate the appearance of accomplishment through a $870,000 cy pres award to the National PTA and ESRB. (As I’ve discussed, cy pres awards that do not directly benefit class members should not be used to justify fee awards.) They also inflate the award by claiming that the costs of notice, administration and disk replacement should be attributed to the size of the accomplished result, thus puffing matters up to over $2 million, consisting nearly entirely of empty calories for the plaintiffs they purport to be representing.

Alas, I was the only class member to docket a formal objection to this rip-off. (While it was my idea to object, I can take no credit for the objection brief, which was written by my attorney, Larry Schonbrun.) On Thursday, the plaintiffs’ attorneys filed a brief defending the settlement, with many cites to Overlawyered as ad hominem attacks on the objection. The court’s hearing is June 25.

{ 3 trackbacks }

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{ 9 comments }

1 rwallis 05.26.08 at 9:27 am

I thought that the class action law suits were meant for these type of cases, where plaintiffs suffered harm, but not enough to hire a lawyer. I can see the lawyer receiving more than the plaintiff when the harm is small in dollar amount, but for the defendant (if he/it has cheated the customers) a few dollars per customer could mean millions in profit.

2 billb 05.26.08 at 12:22 pm

rwallis: Remind us what the harm was?

3 matt 05.26.08 at 12:39 pm

i gotta agree with billb here the box for gta sa had a warning that it contained “strong sexual content” (those exact words) if you are then surprised to find well strong sexual content it cant be the companies fault

4 John Burgess 05.26.08 at 6:08 pm

Maybe the next game in the series will be:

Grand Theft Auto: The Courtroom

5 matt 05.26.08 at 6:55 pm

no but in the latest one (gta 4) there is a radio show mocking the tv court room shows

6 Deoxy 05.27.08 at 5:59 pm

Good luck with the objection – I hope you ruin the whole thing for them.

7 zak 05.28.08 at 11:58 am

their response is full of typos…

8 random john 05.28.08 at 3:14 pm

rwallis: actually, you’re wrong. the point of class actions has nothing to do with claims too small to be addressed individually. it has to do with the efficiency of administering large numbers of similar cases (similar source of similar harm). unfortunately, plaintiffs’ attorneys are gaming the system by finding these minuscule claims, lumping them together and seeking massive fees.

9 matt 06.01.08 at 11:14 pm

but again WHAT HARM? the game box stated that it included strong sexual content? SURPRISE theres strong sexual content in the game! if the sign says cliff ahead and you fall off the cliff its your own fault

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