“Judge Richard Posner of the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals has unleashed another zinger at class-action attorneys, trashing a settlement over joint-pain pills that would have paid attorneys $2 million in fees, more than double what their clients got.” [Daniel Fisher, Forbes, whose own writing gets cited; opinion in Pearson v. NBTY] From the ABA Journal:
The opinion was a victory for Ted Frank of the Center for Class Action Fairness, who objected to the settlement as a class member. He told the Am Law Litigation Daily he will be citing the case in new objections to class-action settlements. So far, he says, his group has persuaded courts to wipe out $271 million in attorney fees in the 39 cases in which the center achieved some success.
“This is the best opinion out there” on class settlement issues, Frank told the Litigation Daily. “I think it will have a dramatic effect on class action settlements negotiated.”
“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")]
Over “incessant filing of frivolous lawsuits.” [Lowering the Bar, opinion in Conrad v. AM Community Credit Union et al. (PDF)]
…2. The new front-loading washers turn out to have novel maintenance issues. In particular, they may develop musty smells unless owners practice some combination of leaving doors open to vent, wiping down surfaces, and other steps. Some consumers are irritated at this and regret the purchase, others not.
3. Trial lawyers sue all the major makers in class actions saying the new designs are defective, even though Consumer Reports rates the new category of washer “best in class” despite its drawbacks.
4. One of these class actions lands before Judge Posner at the Seventh Circuit, and he rules for letting it go forward on a theory of “predominance” (do these plaintiffs all belong in the same suit, when many are experiencing no problem at all?) that varies interestingly from what people assumed the Supreme Court’s thinking was on that subject.
5. The U.S. Supreme Court decides (coming up momentarily) whether to grant certiorari in Sears v. Butler.
There isn’t actually a strong logical chain linking 1) through 5); it’s kind of happenstance that the case threw up an issue involving predominance that the Supreme Court might find worth its attention, as opposed to merely presenting an overall profile of “hasn’t the whole system just become a crazy way to enrich lawyers?” Because “hasn’t the whole system just become a crazy way to enrich lawyers?” doesn’t count as a well-formed question for certiorari. [Ted Frank, more, Daniel Fisher] (& cross-posted, adapted, at Cato at Liberty) Update: Court vacates and remands in light of Comcast.) (& thanks to Marissa Miller, SCOTUSBlog, for roundup link)
Satire by Kyle Graham about some high-level legal-literary feuding.
I’ve got a new essay up at The Atlantic, part of the “America the Fixable” series edited by Philip K. Howard. I have a bit of fun at the expense of the Harvard Law Review, raising the question of whether it should be held to lower standards than the Long Island tabloid Newsday, and cite such figures as Richard Posner, Elizabeth Warren, Ross Davies of George Mason, and the bloggers at Volokh Conspiracy and Balkinization.
Said Judge Posner, of an alleged serial spammer’s courtroom presentation. “It’s not only incompetent, it’s grotesque. You’ve got damages jumping around from $11 million to $130 million to $122 million to $33 million. In fact, the damages are probably zero.” [Timothy Lee, Ars Technica]
An uninvited-fax case gives the judge a chance to express some views on the typicality, credibility and adequacy of class representatives. [Trask]