Posts tagged as:

class action settlements

October 10 roundup

by Walter Olson on October 10, 2014

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October 3 roundup

by Walter Olson on October 3, 2014

  • Posner smacks lawyers, vindicates objectors in Radio Shack coupon settlement [CCAF, Fisher, more]
  • “Germany To Consider Ban On Late-Night Work Emails” [Alexander Kaufman, Huffington Post]
  • 7th Circuit overturns Wisconsin John Doe ruling, sends back to state judges [Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, ruling; more, Vox] John Doe case prosecutor John Chisholm, via columnist Dan Bice, strikes back against source in office who talked to Stuart Taylor, Jr. [Taylor, Althouse]
  • Trial lawyer/massive Democratic donor Steve Mostyn also dabbles in Texas Republican primaries [Robert T. Garrett, Dallas Morning News; Mostyn's national spending from Florida and Arizona to New Hampshire and Minnesota]
  • Sad: immigration lawyer known for Iraqi Christian advocacy faces asylum fraud charges [Chicago Tribune]
  • Might have been entertaining had Bruce Braley opponent Joni Ernst in Iowa argued in favor of nullification, but that’s not what evidence shows [Ramesh Ponnuru]
  • California hobbles insurers with diverse-procurement regulations [Ian Adams, Insurance Journal]

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“A federal appeals court has rejected an ‘inequitable — even scandalous’ class-action settlement, removed the lead lawyer and reinstated ‘defrocked’ lead plaintiffs who had objected to the deal.” The ruling, involving a class action against the Pella Corp., window manufacturers, is another triumph for Ted Frank, former contributor to this blog and now a prominent objector through his Center for Class Action Fairness. [ABA Journal, Chicago Daily Law Bulletin ("attorneys would receive $11 million in fees while their clients would get, at most, $8.5 million — and likely much less")]

Information hardly ever gets onto the public record about what percentage of notional claims are actually redeemed following a class action settlement, which means there’s generally no way to evaluate participants’ forecasts of robust redemption rates (these forecasts help support not only large fee requests by lawyers in the case at hand, but also the general repute of the class action mechanism as one with genuine benefits for class members — the “consumers win $30 million” sorts of headlines). One class of people who do know a lot about this question are settlement administrators, those who manage the mostly obscure private firms set up to handle payout requests as they come in. But they don’t talk to the press.

That’s why a declaration submitted last month in a false-labeling class action involving Duracell batteries is so tantalizing. … defense lawyers at Jones Day submitted a declaration from Deborah McComb, a senior consultant at Kurtzman Carson Consultants, a settlement administrator. KCC is administering the Duracell settlement, and the point of McComb’s declaration is that the rate of claims in this case is consistent with what KCC typically sees in similar settlements that have received final approval.

McComb provides some hard numbers to support the point — and this is why the declaration is significant. KCC, she said, has administered hundreds of consumer class actions in which class members received notice indirectly rather than directly through the mail. These cases “will almost always have a claims rate of less than 1 percent,” she said.

In fact, the “median claims rate for cases in the KCC analysis” was .023 percent, far lower than 1 percent. The Duracell settlement was said to be worth $49 million, including a stated $6 million to charity, but the amount headed to class members was likely going to come in below $345,000. Class actions with mail notice to class members may perform somewhat better — it’s hard to know how much so — but these revelations tend to back up reformers’ belief that where dollar amounts per claimants are not large enough to justify the time and trouble of redemption, the great majority of redistribution will go on for the benefit of lawyers and other middlemen. [Alison Frankel, Reuters; Daniel Fisher, Forbes]

May 15 roundup

by Walter Olson on May 15, 2014

  • “Sign Installer Cited for Violating Rule on the Sign He Was Installing” [Lowering the Bar, Santa Barbara]
  • YouTube yanks exhibit from public court case as terms-of-service violation. How’d that happen? [Scott Greenfield on controversy arising from doctor's lawsuit against legal blogger Eric Turkewitz]
  • Philadelphia narcotics police scandal (earlier) has an alleged-sex-grab angle; also, given the presence of compelling video clips, shouldn’t the story be breaking out to national cable news by now? [Will Bunch, Philadelphia Daily News; Barbara Laker and Wendy Ruderman, PDN 2009 Pulitzer series, on Dagma Rodriguez, Lady Gonzalez and "Naomi" cases]
  • The most dynamic part of the economy? Its endangered “permissionless” sector [Cochrane] Call it subregulatory guidance, or call it sneaky regulation by agencies, but either way it can evade White House regulatory review, notice and comment, etc. [Wayne Crews, CEI "Open Market"]
  • What’s Chinese for “Kafkaesque”? Dispute resolution in Sino-American contracts [Dan Harris, Above the Law]
  • In another win for Ted Frank’s Center for Class Action Fairness, Ninth Circuit reverses trial court approval of Apple MagSafe settlement [CCAF]
  • Mississippi’s major tort reform, viewed in retrospect after ten years [Geoff Pender, Jackson Clarion Ledger]

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March 20 roundup

by Walter Olson on March 20, 2014

  • Sue the NYC welfare department enough, and Mayor De Blasio might make you its chief [Heather Mac Donald, City Journal] Cozy relations between nonprofits and Gotham administration dodge accountability [Steven Malanga, same]
  • Consumer objects to Muscle Milk class action settlement, and there’s a Ted Frank angle [Above the Law]
  • Asking employees whether they’re disabled suddenly mandatory rather than forbidden [WSJ, earlier]
  • “…not trying to tell you how to live your life, I’m just suggesting that it’s a bad idea to put sharp or explosive objects in your…” [Lowering the Bar]
  • “Carnival cruise passengers sue seeking $5,000 a month for life” [Reuters]
  • Husbands could sue noncompliant wives: “UAE law requires mothers to breastfeed for first two years” [Guardian]
  • New symposium on “The State, The Clan, and Individual Liberty” with Mark S. Weiner, Arnold Kling, Daniel McCarthy, and John Fabian Witt [Cato Unbound]

Among the key reasons, argues Max Kennerly: it released third parties including amateurs who weren’t being asked to pay anything. More: NYT (quoting Ted Frank).

Class action roundup

by Walter Olson on December 6, 2013

  • Whichever way high court rules in Hood v. AU Optronics, new Fifth Circuit decision will fuel parens patriae actions by AGs in state courts [Alison Frankel, earlier]
  • Justice Alito blasts federal district judge Harold Baer for insisting on race quotas for class action lawyers [Michael Greve/Liberty Law, Tom Goldstein/SCOTUSBlog]
  • “Unfortunately, even if SCOTUS does away with fraud on the market, plaintiff lawyers will still bring omission cases” [Bainbridge, earlier]
  • Ted Frank’s adventures, as documented at Point of Law [Pampers Dry Max (earlier), L'Oreal salon hair products, Korean Air, Wyeth]
  • Does it cost too much to provide class action defendants with due process? [Andrew Trask] Related on Mark Moller’s work [same] Should class actions be understood as creating trusts? [same]
  • Avery v. State Farm billion-dollar aftermarket-parts class action seeks RICO resuscitation, in Monty Python echo [Chamber-backed Madison County Record]
  • If you didn’t know distinguished proceduralist Arthur Miller as a Milbergian, you might detect it from his writing [Trask]

Who benefits from the federal law that allows the filing of class actions against retailers and others who print too much information on credit card receipts? In a St. Louis federal case called Albright v. Bi-State Development Agency, as described by Ted Frank here, it’s $742.50 at most to class members, $2,500 each to two class representatives, and $190,000 in attorneys’ fees and expenses, down from a request by the lawyers of $400,000. Is that pretty much as expected these days? Earlier on FACTA here, here, etc.

Insist that class counsel’s attorneys’ fees be handled separately from the negotiation of relief to the class — and then don’t roll over for those fees the way defendants usually do. “They [Starbucks' lawyers] contend that the $4.2 million request is ‘breathtakingly inflated,’ considering that class counsel managed to win certification of only one of 13 alleged subclasses [in a West Coast wage-hour class action].” [Alison Frankel, Reuters]

Class action roundup

by Walter Olson on August 5, 2013

  • Judge Alsup “shopping for new plaintiffs lawyers” for class action against Wells Fargo “because he isn’t happy with the team that brought suit”
    [Recorder]
  • “Sixth Circuit Rejects Class Settlement in Pampers Case” [Adler] More: William Peacock, FindLaw (“something stinks”)
  • Supreme Court to decide whether quasi-class-actions spearheaded by state attorneys general (“parens patriae”) can dodge CAFA’s mandate of removal to federal court [Deborah Renner, WLF]
  • Channeling Google settlement funds to the Google-favored Lawrence Lessig center at Stanford is already a dubious use of cy pres, but thanking the lawyers makes it worse [Ted Frank]
  • “Class actions ending in ‘ridiculous results’ continue to plague California, critics say” [Legal NewsLine]
  • Big Ninth Circuit win for Ted Frank big win in inkjet coupon class action [Recorder, PoL, more]
  • “Sixth Circuit Can’t Take A Hint From SCOTUS, Reinstates Whirlpool Smelly-Washer Case” [Daniel Fisher; earlier on Sears v. Butler, Business Roundtable; PoL, Fisher and our coverage]

Longtime Overlawyered blogger Ted Frank just saved class members more than $25 million in a case in which his Center for Class Action Fairness had objected to the attorneys’ fee request in a settlement against Citigroup. Ted argued that the plaintiff’s lawyers were marking up to associate-level rates, at $400/hour or more, the work of contract attorneys who were being paid $50/hour or less for document review and similar tasks. Accepting the critique in part, the “order by U.S. District Judge Sidney Stein in New York cut the fee award to Kirby McInerney by $26.7 million to $70.8 million.” [Daniel Fisher/Forbes, WSJ, Point of Law and more]

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In April, an extensive New York Times investigation by Sharon Lafreniere confirmed and extended what writers associated with the late Andrew Breitbart had been charging for more than two years: the so-called Pigford settlement, in which the U.S. Department of Agriculture agreed to make payments to persons charging racial bias in agriculture programs, is riddled with fraud. If you thought this might stand in the way of a payday for plaintiff’s lawyers in the case, you’re wrong: U.S. District Judge Paul Friedman has just approved a payout of $90.8 million to the lawyers, over objections. That represents the maximum (7.4 percent) of what was being asked for: “The deal set out a fee range between 4.1 percent and 7.4 percent.” [BLT]

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May 10 roundup

by Walter Olson on May 10, 2013

  • Electric-car maker Tesla doesn’t get many kind words from free market types, but here’s one [Coyote] More: North Carolina auto dealer lobby strikes back [News & Observer]
  • One lawyer’s selection of the worst lawyer billboards, though they’re far from the worst we’ve seen [John M. Phillips]
  • House hearings on litigation abuse and on litigation and international competitiveness [Judiciary, more, Point of Law]
  • Ninth Circuit cites conflict of interest, throws out credit reporting class settlement [Trial Insider; Daniel Fisher]
  • Private pensions, market-based water rates and more: “Australian travel notes from a policy wonk” [Alex Tabarrok]
  • “Use elevators properly. Riding outside of cars can be dangerous and deadly” [Scouting NY, seen in Bronx apartment building]
  • “It’s long been my view that blawgs, law blogs, are the greatest peer reviewed content ever created.” [Greenfield]

Class action roundup

by Walter Olson on March 29, 2013

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“Wayne County, Mich. Judge Kathleen MacDonald slapped a Dearborn man with an injunction ordering him to take down his Facebook comments critical of a class-action settlement of a case against McDonald’s for selling non-halal meat.” [Daniel Fisher, Forbes; Paul Alan Levy, Public Citizen; Ted Frank, PoL] More: Blue Dog Thoughts.

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Class action roundup

by Walter Olson on January 28, 2013

  • Pursuing well-worn script following exposure of fib-laden memoirs, class action lawyers sue demanding reader refunds for Lance Armstrong autobiography [ABA Journal]
  • Adventures of Ted Frank’s CCAF: Easy Saver coupon settlement; Southwest Airlines drink voucher; Asus Computer dongle giveaway. Plus: “Citigroup Plaintiff Lawyers Fire Back At Fee Objectors” [Daniel Fisher, Forbes]
  • Wrongful termination complaint contains its share of juicy allegations regarding well-known plaintiff’s firm Hausfeld LLP [Andrew Trask]
  • Calif.: “Judges Accuse Class Lawyers of Misconduct” [The Recorder; The Complex Litigator (Clarke v. First Transit, PDF)]
  • Aiming to undermine Concepcion ruling, plaintiff lawyers seek to overwhelm system with arbitration demands [Reuters, earlier]
  • How to get your class action settlement disapproved by the judge [Andrew Trask]
  • “Papa John’s Facing $250 Million Text Message Spam Lawsuit” [PC Mag]

“The expected amount left over for affected motorists is just $6″ and if motorists don’t file a claim, reversions go to defendant American Traffic Solutions (ATS). “More than 81,000 citations worth $10.2 million were issued in New Jersey through red light camera programs that were not in compliance with state law.” Lawyers who filed the suit are in line to collect $800,000. [The Newspaper; AnnMarie McDonald, NJLRA]

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