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]
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]
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]
“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.
“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]
The judge found fault with a cy pres diversion of funds to charity. Ted Frank had criticized the settlement as leaving consumers in arguably a worse position than if the lawyers hadn’t sued. [Point of Law, earlier]
It may be worse than before class action lawyers got involved, argues Ted Frank [Point of Law]
Ted’s successful 7th Circuit objection in June in a Sears shareholder class action (Easterbrook: “The only goal of this suit appears to be fees for the plaintiffs’ lawyers”), which raised widespread discussion, is just one in a string of wins for his Center for Class Action Fairness in recent months. In a settlement involving complaints against Classmates.com, the judge agreed with the arguments of CCAF client (and George Mason lawprof) Michael Krauss, rapped class counsel’s knuckles with a $100,000 sanction for discovery tactics that amounted to harassment (see section III-D), and ordered a better deal for class members [PoL] And in yet another noteworthy case: “The Third Circuit Court of Appeals has rejected a settlement of a class action over potentially leaky Volkswagen sunroofs that would have paid the lawyers who negotiated it $9.2 million in fees and the majority of car owners nothing.” [Daniel Fisher/Forbes, Ted at PoL, earlier]