“A federal appeals court has upheld a settlement in which Southwest Airlines passengers got free drink vouchers but lawyers who sued the airline got $1.65 million in cash.” [AP “Big Story”]
“Only two of the estimated 232,000 class members claimed the coupons” in a class action led by Edelson McGuire LLP. Defendant Dick’s Sporting Goods “agreed not to oppose the plaintiff’s request for $210,000 in attorney fees and costs and a $3,500 incentive award,” but an Orange County, Calif. judge took away a large chunk of that sum because… why? Because some of the lawyers angling for it had not been admitted to practice in California, that’s why. [Kenneth Ofgang, Metropolitan News-Enterprise; Golba v. Dick’s Sporting Goods, unpublished]
“Recently, the consumer protection unit of the Orange County (CA) District Attorney’s Office filed suit against Unilever, parent company of AXE, accusing the company of fudging the packaging of its male grooming products.” The charges, which were filed concomitantly with a proposed settlement the same day, do not claim that Axe misstated the quantity of product contained by weight, but say its packaging employed “false bottoms, false sidewalls, false lids or false coverings” which “serve no legitimate purpose and mislead consumers as to the amount of product contained in the containers. …Apparently, the DA has never purchased a bag of potato chips.” It is unclear from the coverage whether Orange County consumers were constrained from ascertaining how much product was in one of the packages by, say, lifting it to see how heavy it was, or looking at the number of ounces on the label. In settlement (the same day) of the charges, the company agreed to pay $750,000 to Orange County and $24,000 to its D.A.’s office, and to take out ads in various California newspapers with $3 coupons good off a consumer purchase of Axe. [Nick Farr, Abnormal Use; Orange County Register]
The Orange County district attorney’s office under Tony Rackauckas is emerging as an Overlawyered favorite, having knocked an impressive $16 million out of Toyota in the sudden-acceleration affair even though the cars in question do not suddenly accelerate, of which $4 million went to a locally influential tort attorney; the office has also kept mum about arrangements it has with tort attorneys. And of course Rackauckas’s office has lately been embroiled in one of the nation’s most prominent scandals of prosecutorial abuse (with retaliation angle).
P.S. Oh, and here is coverage of “slack fill” class action suits organized by private lawyers against both Unilever/Axe and competitor Procter & Gamble, confirming that this wasn’t exactly a solitary frolic on the county’s part. More: Amy Alkon.
- Ted Frank on Whirlpool front-loading washer class action [PoL] $1.5 million for attorneys, $41,510 for class? Judge balks at Amex gift card settlement [same] EasySaver coupon settlement “conservatively” values coupons at 85% of face value [same]
- Cy pres: Roger Parloff on tech-defendant class-action cy pres [Fortune] Privacy groups nominated for cy pres windfall in Facebook settlement [Wired, PoL]
- “Class-Action Lawyers Face Triple Threat At Supreme Court” [Daniel Fisher at Forbes; related, Michael Bobelian]
- Georgia high court: company could be on hook for $456 million for sending junk faxes [UPI] Will unwanted text-message class actions be the sequel to junk-fax litigation? [Almeida, Sedgwick via WLF]
- “Class action summer camp” series from Andrew Trask includes refreshers on key concepts such as typicality, adequacy, etc.
- “Supreme Court Hears Arguments in Comcast” [Wajert, earlier]
- City of Des Moines class action: we owe it to ourselves [Iowa Appeals] For another case where there was high overlap between plaintiff class members and those expected to pay damages, see Sept. 2, 1999 [Milwaukee tainted municipal water system]
“Texas has a unique solution to the problem of coupon settlements: if the lawyers settle for coupons or non-cash relief, they have to be paid in coupons or non-cash relief.” Some scoffed at this as a gimmick, but it seems to have had an effect for the better, most notably in a recent case where the court “prohibited a $1.1 million fee in a $0 settlement over immaterial merger disclosures.” [Ted Frank, Point of Law]
- New York State Sen. Jim Alesi drops much-criticized suit against constituent couple in whose house he was injured while trespassing [WHEC, Techdirt]
- “Distracted moving”: campaign heats up for laws prohibiting pedestrians from texting [Alkon, Greenfield, Popehat]
- “Good News: Tort Costs Eased in 2009. Bad News: They Still Totaled $248 Billion.” [CJAC, Insurance Journal, Towers Perrin report (PDF)]
- As Wisconsin moves to limit tort suits, lawyers race to file cases before deadline [Journal-Sentinel, NAM, NJLRA]
- Settling scientific and scholarly quarrels in France by way of defamation actions? Criminal libel complaints? [Ron Bailey] Update on Joseph Weiler criminal libel case [Heller, Opinio Juris, earlier here, etc.]
- NPR interview with Seth Mnookin on vaccine book [via TortsProf, earlier; plus, New York Observer]
- “HP Tries a Coupon Settlement” [PoL]
- “Strange but true” role of former Republican Senator Fred Thompson lobbying for Tennessee trial lawyers will not particularly surprise Overlawyered readers [WSJ Law Blog; background here, here, etc.]
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).
- Many of our readers liked the ruling, but someone didn’t: “Judge censured for ordering class-action lawyer to take pay in $125,000 worth of gift-cards” [BoingBoing, ABA Journal, Leonard/L.A. Times, Lowering the Bar]
- “NFL Concedes In Who Dat Battle” [Lowering the Bar, more, earlier; here’s a protest t-shirt, and more on those]
- Some plaintiff’s lawyers give their side of the story, disputing fraud allegations in Dole banana-worker pesticide cases [Bronstad, NLJ, earlier]
- “Google Blog Bundle — 42 criminal defense blogs” [Mark Bennett] And while you’re at it, why not take a moment right now to put Overlawyered in your RSS blog reader?
- Massachusetts hardball: state lawmaker says private law schools might be breaking antitrust laws in working to oppose state school proposed in his district [ABA Journal via Above the Law; public law school plan OK’d]
- Making the rounds: why medieval trial by ordeal may not have been so crazy after all [Peter Leeson, Boston Globe and full paper (PDF) via Volokh]
- “Rothstein E-Mails Reveal Role of Former Plaintiffs’ Lawyer” [Brian Baxter, AmLaw Litigation Daily]
- Obama: I tried to reach across aisle on medical liability reform but GOP wasn’t nibbling. Fact check please [Wood, PoL]
- Other motorist in fatal crash should have been detained after earlier traffic stop, says widow in suit against Kane County, Ill. sheriff’s office [Chicago Tribune]
- Now with flashing graphic: recap of Demi Moore skinny-thigh Photoshop nastygram flap [Xeni Jardin, BoingBoing, Kennerly]
- Blawg Review #245 is hosted by Charon QC;
- Expensive, unproven, and soon on your insurance bill? State lawmakers mull mandate for autism therapy coverage [KY3.com, Springfield, Missouri]
- “NBC airs segment on Ford settlement: Lawyers get $25 million, plaintiffs get a coupon” [NJLRA]
- “Drawing on emotion”: high-profile patent plaintiff’s lawyer Niro writes book on how to win trials [Legal Blog Watch]
- “Virginia Tech faces lawsuit over student’s suicide” [AP/WaPo]
- Maryland lawmaker’s Howard-Dean-style candor: “you take care of your base… It’s labor and trial lawyers that get Democrats in office” [Wood, ShopFloor]