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CCAF

Today is the last day for class members to object in the Classmates.com class action settlement —$117 thousand for the class, $1.05 million for the attorneys. For more details on how to file, see my post at the Center for Class Action Fairness (which is not affiliated with Overlawyered).

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August 6 roundup

by Walter Olson on August 6, 2010

I’ll be speaking at Duke Law Monday about the Grand Theft Auto and other class action settlements. Come say hi.

Overlawyered readers are well aware of the sorry history of the fen-phen litigation; those that aren’t are advised to check out Professor Lester Brickman’s summary.

In April 2008, the Diet Drugs MDL district court awarded $567 million the class counsel in that case, basing the award in part on representations by class counsel about future class recovery. A year later, a plaintiff’s attorney requested the court reopen the question of the fee award because the class counsel had exaggerated those estimates. The district court refused, holding that the one-year delay in bringing the Rule 60(b) motion was not a “reasonable time.” There has been an appeal to the Third Circuit, and, today, the Center for Class Action Fairness filed an amicus brief in support of the appeal that itself provides a short overview of the history of the fen-phen MDL. Many thanks to Chris Arfaa for his generous help in filing the brief.

The case that started me on the path to founding the Center for Class Action Fairness is now over: plaintiffs voluntarily dismissed their appeal last week after voluntarily dismissing the court case February 22, giving up any shot at the $1 million in attorneys’ fees they had negotiated for themselves.

And if you’re on Facebook, do become a fan of the Center for Class Action Fairness so you can keep up with us and others can learn about it.

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I’ll be on KOGO-600 AM’s Top Story with Chris Reed tonight at 6:35 pm Pacific discussing recent CCAF cases and the problem of bad class action settlement cases generally.

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The March 2 Wall Street Journal (link dead after 7 days) covers all-for-charity-none-for-the-class “cy pres” settlements of Facebook and AOL—the latter of which was the subject of a Center for Class Action Fairness objection:

Late last year, in a class action claiming that tech giant AOL LLC improperly inserted footers in its users’ emails, Los Angeles federal judge Christina Snyder awarded $25,000 in settlement funds to a Los Angeles legal-aid organization that has the judge’s husband on its board. …

The Virginia-based [sic] Center for Class Action Fairness objected, claiming the settlement raised a conflict of interest. Ted Frank, president of the group, said that to avoid potential conflicts, it would be better to require unclaimed settlement funds to be deposited into state coffers. “The problem is that parties can now give money to a judge’s preferred charity in the hopes that it will prompt the judge to rubber stamp a settlement,” he said.

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September 22 roundup

by Ted Frank on September 22, 2009

  • Proposed Costco fuel settlement: $0 for class, $10M for attorneys. [CCAF]
  • Senator Specter’s latest attempt to curry favor with trial lawyers. [Ribstein; see also Corporate Counsel]
  • The Frank-Gryphon paper on the game theory of medical malpractice settlements is now posted. Comments welcome. [SSRN]
  • Heritage panel on tort reform in the states features Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour. [Summary at Point of Law]
  • Liability waivers ignored and Texas Motor Speedway on the hook for $12 million after a 12-year-old driver strikes 11-year-old in the pit area. [Fort Worth Star-Telegram; id. on pre-trial]
  • Martha Raye turning over in her grave, as trial lawyers target denture cream as next mass tort. [AP/Washington Post]

The Sep. 21 issue of Forbes magazine, now on newsstands, has a lengthy profile by Dan Fisher of my founding of the Center for Class Action Fairness, complete with a photo of my ugly mug gracing the story.

Of interest is a new revelation in the infamous Toshiba class action:

After few consumers availed themselves of a $2 billion settlement over supposedly defective laptop computers in 2000, for example, Toshiba America handed $353 million to a Beaumont charity whose chairman was plaintiff attorney Wayne Reaud, the lawyer on the case. Six years later the charity was still sitting on $250 million and the Texas attorney general sued for breach of fiduciary duty, including paying its president, W. Frank Newton, $560,000 in 2004. Newton is the former president of the State Bar of Texas.

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Blogosphere reaction

by Ted Frank on August 12, 2009

Larry Ribstein and Alexandra Lahav comment favorably, as does the pseudonymous “Kat”, and Scott Greenfield semi-snarks about my new job.

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Heritage panel on preemption

by Ted Frank on August 10, 2009

I may have a new job as what David Lat calls the “Class Action Avenger” and a new blog to go with it, but that doesn’t mean I won’t be speaking about more general legal reform issues. A Heritage Foundation panel on preemption, featuring Kyle Sampson, former NHTSA and DOT general counsel Jeffrey Rosen, and myself is now viewable online. It’s only fair to note that I cribbed a lot from Michael Greve’s Bradley Lecture on federalism (video), which I can’t recommend enough.

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With a million dollars of attorneys’ fees at stake, the trial lawyers in the infamous Grand Theft Auto case appealed the lower court decertification ruling to the Second Circuit.

In response, I filed this brief today.

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Before asking a federal judge to grant preliminary approval for a class action settlement with Ameritrade over alleged privacy breaches, make sure that your “client,” the class representative, isn’t going to tell the court he opposes the settlement. In re TD Ameritrade Account Holder Litigation, Case No. C 07-2852 VRW (N.D. Cal.) ($1.87M for the attorneys, coupons for the class.).

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Those of you who remember my earlier posts about the settlement and my brief on behalf of objectors might be interested in seeing the briefs that putatively settling plaintiffs and defendants submitted in support of the settlement.

So as not to clutter Overlawyered with these posts, I have started a new weblog focusing on my class action work. You can also keep up with this work by becoming a Facebook supporter of the Center for Class Action Fairness.

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Readers may recall our discussion of the Bluetooth Headset class action settlement, which remarkably granted zero to the class while asking for substantial attorneys’ fees. I asked if anyone was interested in objecting, and the response was overwhelming. Today I’ve filed an objection on behalf of seven clients.

There were more objectors out there than I could feasibly represent. If you wanted to object, but I was unable to represent you, you can still join this objection. Follow the instructions for notifying the court and attorneys of your objection, and simply state, in addition to your name and address and phone number, that you join the objection of William J. Brennan et al., docket number 107. I won’t be your attorney, but you can have the pleasure of “voting” for the objection I wrote.

And anyone in Los Angeles July 6 who wants to watch the hearing, please join in the fun. I’ve got my plane ticket.

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