Late last year, in a class action claiming that tech giant AOL LLC improperly inserted footers in its users' emails, Los Angeles federal judge Christina Snyder awarded $25,000 in settlement funds to a Los Angeles legal-aid organization that has the judge's husband on its board. The mediator in the case recommended the organization, along with other charitable groups that received settlement funds, said Mark Litvack, counsel to AOL.
The Virginia-based [sic] Center for Class Action Fairness objected, claiming the settlement raised a conflict of interest. Ted Frank, president of the group, said that to avoid potential conflicts, it would be better to require unclaimed settlement funds to be deposited into state coffers. "The problem is that parties can now give money to a judge's preferred charity in the hopes that it will prompt the judge to rubber stamp a settlement," he said.
Judge Snyder declined to comment. "It did not seem logical to anyone," Mr. Litvack said, "to split a $110,000 settlement among 60 million class members."
Monday, March 1, 2010
CCAF in the Wall Street Journal
Our objection to the AOL Footer case (currently on appeal) was covered in the March 2 Wall Street Journal: