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Ted Frank

“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")]

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]

We have often reported on controversies over cy pres class action settlements, in which part or all of a settlement fund goes to charities, universities, advocacy groups, or other unrelated institutions as opposed to actual victims of the sued-over conduct. Most appeals courts have agreed that cy pres raises distinctive issues that call for judicial oversight, yet the various federal circuits have marched off in different directions as to the appropriate nature and extent of such oversight, leading to inconsistency at least, and perhaps also to forum-shopping by lawyers seeking lenient standards.

Now figures well known to many of our readers — Ted Frank of the Center for Class Action Fairness, and David Rifkin and Andrew Grossman of Baker & Hostetler — have petitioned the Supreme Court for certiorari in a case arising from a privacy suit against Facebook over its Beacon program that eventuated in a cy pres settlement. “More than $6 million of [the] money was directed to the establishment of a new Internet privacy foundation with an advisory board that includes a Facebook representative and a plaintiffs’ lawyer from the case.” [Alison Frankel; Ted Frank/PoL; CCAF] Related: the “real problem with cy pres has never been that it is too costly. The real problem is that it creates an incentive for class counsel to act against the interests of the class.” [Andrew Trask]

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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Class action roundup

by Walter Olson on May 13, 2013

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March 18 roundup

by Walter Olson on March 18, 2013

  • Justice done in Tewksbury, Mass. as feds won’t appeal loss in Motel Caswell forfeiture case [Institute for Justice]
  • Oh, FTC: “Government Now Says Tweets Have To Include ‘The Fine Print'” [Business Insider]
  • Judge lifts “no Facebook posts” order against class action objector [Paul Alan Levy, ABA Journal, earlier]
  • House Judiciary Committee hearing on litigation abuse feature Ted Frank, John Beisner [link to video, Chamber-backed LNL]
  • Update: minister who aided Miller-Jenkins custody-napping gets 27 month sentence [AP,earlier]
  • Pennsylvania high court judge convicted on charges of using state staff for campaign [AP] Also in Pa., wife/chief aide of high court justice “has received 18 payments as referral fees for connecting law firms with clients” [Philadelphia Inquirer] “Arkansas Supreme Court Justice reports $50k gift from plaintiff lawyer” [LNL]
  • Widow sues church for refusal to accept NASCAR-themed cemetery headstone [IndyStar]

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Groupon customer “remedy”

by Walter Olson on September 24, 2012

It may be worse than before class action lawyers got involved, argues Ted Frank [Point of Law]

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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]

July 25 roundup

by Walter Olson on July 25, 2012

  • Town of Gold Bar, Wash. (pop. 2,100) brought to brink of bankruptcy by multiple lawsuits following political feuds; “We are going broke winning lawsuits,” says mayor [Monroe Monitor via ABA Journal]
  • “No one in Youngstown Ohio has a Swiss bank account…except maybe that big new Swiss employer in town?” [Matt Welch, earlier] William McGurn: FATCA and the IRS’s reach abroad [WSJ via TaxProf, earlier here, here] Politicians and lawyers demand “improvements” to IRS bounty-paid-informant program, but what if anything they improve may depend on your point of view [TaxProf, earlier]
  • A human rights professor endorses a new model of residential facility that comes with names like “Freedom Place.” But what’s that on the door — could it be a lock to prevent escape? [Maggie McNeill] Romney spokesman says he’ll smite smut, Gov. Gary Johnson takes a more libertarian view [Daily Caller]
  • New Mark Herrmann book on in-house lawyering [Victoria Pynchon, Scott Greenfield, Paul Karlsgodt]
  • Mortgage eminent-domain seizure plan raises serious constitutional concerns [Andrew Grossman, earlier here, here]
  • Central casting? Send over one “business basher,” please: Sidney Wolfe says $3 billion Glaxo settlement too lenient [CL&P, earlier]
  • Ted Frank pre-vets the possibilities for Romney VP [PoL] Romney’s law and legal policy team [Brian Baxter, AmLaw Daily]

Torts roundup

by Walter Olson on June 15, 2012

  • “Fla. jury awards $75M to family of dead smoker” [AP] Bad trends catch on 10+ years later up North: Quebec becomes fifth province to sue tobacco companies [Montreal Gazette] We passed a law to let us win, so there: “Manitoba sues tobacco companies” [provincial press release]
  • “Can There Be Liability When Sending Texts To A Driver?” A debate [Ray Mollica and Mark Bower, Turkewitz; earlier here and here]
  • Ted Frank vs. Ron Unz on Vioxx health effects [PoL, American Conservative]
  • Major Florida PI firm denies State Farm claims-inflation allegations [Orlando Sentinel]
  • East St. Louis, Ill.: jury awards nearly $179 million to 3 injured grain elevator workers [Post-Dispatch]
  • Siding with plaintiff’s bar, Minnesota Gov. Dayton vetoes legislation reducing state’s general statute of limitations from six years to four, reducing prejudgment interest from current 10%/year, reforming offer of settlement rules, and allowing interlocutory class certification appeal [NFIB] He does however sign one protecting state/local governments [Star-Trib]
  • Multiple asbestos claims raise eyebrows in Delaware [SE Texas Record] On trends in asbestos litigation [Ben Berkowitz, Reuters]

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Reuters reports:

A federal appeals court on Wednesday put the kibosh on a shareholder antitrust suit against the board members of Sears Holding Corp, finding that the suit only served to enrich the plaintiffs’ lawyers.

The ruling from the Chicago-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit marks the latest victory for Ted Frank, of the Center for Class Action Fairness, who argued that the suit was an abuse of the legal system and conferred no benefit on Sears shareholders at large. The 7th Circuit agreed.

“The only goal of this suit appears to be fees for the plaintiffs’ lawyers,” Judge Frank Easterbrook wrote for a unanimous three-judge panel.

More: Dan Fisher.

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April 20 roundup

by Walter Olson on April 20, 2012

  • Lawsuit claim: MERS mortgage system is just a racket to deprive court clerks of recording fees [Baton Rouge Advocate]
  • More reporting on hospital and community drug shortages [Washington Post; my post last summer]
  • Roger Pilon: How the “judicial activism” debate changed [Cato at Liberty]
  • Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, spoken of as a future national political figure, has rather a lot of ties to trial lawyers [Political Desk]
  • Problems with DOJ e-book antitrust suit targeting Apple [Declan McCullagh]
  • One bogus campaign feeds into another: “ALEC Unfairly Demonized Over ‘Stand Your Ground’ Laws” [Bader, CEI "Open Market"]
  • New Point of Law discussion on class actions with Ted Frank and Brian Fitzpatrick;
  • Today’s best spam comment? “With all the thistledown floating almost on the net, it is rare to look over a locate like yours instead.”

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December 19 roundup

by Walter Olson on December 19, 2011

  • Too much of a stretch: US nixes copyright in yoga exercises [Bloomberg, earlier]
  • “Know your rights dealing with cops” material construed as probative of criminality [Popehat] Is Justice Scalia really an “unlikely” champion of defendants’ Constitutional rights? [LATimes, Adler] “Overcriminalization: The Legislative Side of the Problem” [Larkin/Heritage, related Meese] When feds spring false-statements trap, it won’t matter whether you committed underlying offense being investigated [Popehat] “‘Clean Up Government Act’ sparks overcriminalization concerns” [PoL]
  • Former Attorney General Mukasey on ObamaCare recusal flap [Adler]
  • American Antitrust Institute proposals might be discounted given group’s longstanding pro-plaintiff bias [Thom Lambert]
  • NYC: “The tour guide said that the way to get rich is to be a zoning lawyer.” [Arnold Kling]
  • “Obama’s Top Ten Constitutional Violations” [Ilya Shapiro, Daily Caller] In at least two major areas, “Obama has broken with precedent to curtail religious freedom” [Steve Chapman]
  • Ted Frank-Shirley Svorny med mal debate wraps up [PoL, Bader]

November 23 roundup

by Walter Olson on November 23, 2011

  • Big win for Ted Frank against cy pres slush funds [CCAF, Fisher, Zywicki, CL&P, @tedfrank ("Ninth Circuit rules in my favor ... but I still think I'm right".)]
  • “Can the Vatican Be Subject to ICC Prosecution?” [Ku/OJ]
  • “Tennessee: ATS Sues City Over Right Turn Ticket Money” [The Newspaper]
  • “Law firms dominating campaign contributions to Obama” [WaPo]
  • Does that mean it’s an entitlement? Punitive damage limits face constitutional challenges in Arkansas, Missouri [Cal Punitives]
  • Businessman sues to silence critical blogger, case is dismissed, now files suit #2 [Scott Greenfield]
  • Going Hollywood? “The Supreme Court should move to Los Angeles” [Conor Friedersdorf]

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WSJ profiles Ted Frank

by Walter Olson on October 31, 2011

Ted makes it big with a profile that focuses on his class-action objection work (as opposed to his stellar blogging at this site). More: Larry Ribstein.

June 22 roundup

by Walter Olson on June 22, 2011

June 8 roundup

by Walter Olson on June 8, 2011

  • Law firm settles with employee who said required high heels led to back injury [ABA Journal]
  • Stock listings fleeing U.S. for overseas, legal environment a factor [Ribstein, TotM]
  • Partial solution to above? Ted Frank places a stock bet on the Wal-Mart case [PoL, more]
  • Wider press coverage of hospital drug shortage [AP, Reuters, my March post]
  • Trial judge up north supports certifying as class action unusual suit blaming Newfoundland for moose collisions [Canadian Press via Karlsgodt, earlier here and here]
  • Academic revolt against copyright overreach [Chron of Higher Ed]
  • Sues deceased grandmother over trampoline injury [Madison County Record]

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