Wednesday, November 20, 2013
The fact that the parties can identify the number with specificity suggests that a settlement is simple: give money to the allegedly injured class members. But instead one must make a claim (by mail or by the settlement website, www.urbanactivelawsuit.com). The reasoning for that is simple: class counsel would rather that the money to go to settle the lawsuit go to themselves and their friends, the settlement administrator company, rather than the class.
Earlier this year, the Sixth Circuit in In re Dry Max Pampers Litigation condemned sham settlements that allocated a disproportionate sum of money to class counsel. This settlement will pay $2.4 million to class counsel (from a segregated fund that reverts to the defendant) and, most likely, only $1.3 million to the putative clients—exactly the sort of thing the Sixth Circuit said was impermissible.
One hopes that a class member who received a postcard investigates the unfairness of the settlement and retains qualified counsel to object. The claims deadline and the objection deadline is December 30.
Monday, November 4, 2013
Monday, October 14, 2013
I'll be speaking at the University of Chicago Law School at lunchtime, and hope to see some readers there.
Tuesday, October 1, 2013
Tuesday, September 17, 2013
- Procter & Gamble (but not the plaintiffs) filed an en banc petition seeking further review of the 2-1 decision striking down the ludicrous attorney-benefit-only settlement in Dry Max Pampers. CCAF filed its opposition yesterday.
- Similarly problematic to the Dry Max Pampers settlement is the case of Richardson v. L'Oreal, a pathetic lawsuit and settlement that seems to have forum-shopping shenanigans. CCAF attorney Adam Schulman filed an objection on behalf of a class member.
- One tactic class counsel engages in is to attempt to scare off objections with abusive discovery requests. This happened in L'Oreal, where class counsel purported to try to subpoena every attorney working for CCAF. Less than one business day after the subpoena was served and we sent this letter, class counsel withdrew all of the subpoenas. We're not scared of discovery: we follow the rules, and as Citigroup showed, class counsel almost always has something to hide. In this case, for example, it's doubtful the class representatives ever had any real input in the settlement process, and some might not even have standing; and I'd wager there's more than a colorable chance that there are documents existing where the parties agree that they don't want to be in the Ninth Circuit because of Bluetooth. But we're leanly staffed, and offensive and defensive discovery can be time-consuming and take away from the fun appellate stuff we like to do. If you're a litigator who'd like to be on our pro bono SWAT team call list the next time someone tries to play discovery games with us (subject of course to conflict checks and the like when the occasions arise), please drop me a line. We're engaging in fundraising so that we can be more aggressive with offensive discovery in future cases.
- We won $26.7 million for shareholders in the Citigroup case, but we think we can win even more on appeal. Another objector appealed anyway, so we're not adding any delay. We filed a notice of appeal yesterday. [Litigation Daily]
Wednesday, September 11, 2013
All persons and entities (excluding governmental entities, Defendants, and Defendants’ respective predecessors, subsidiaries, and affiliates) who purchased Passenger Air Transportation on [Korean Air or Asiana Airlines], or any predecessor, subsidiary, or affiliate of the Defendants, at any time during the time period January 1, 2000 through August 1, 2007. As used in this definition, “affiliates” means entities controlling, controlled by, or under common control with a Defendant [and does not include travel agents]. “Passenger Air Transportation” means passenger air transportation service purchased in the United States for flights originating in the United States and ending in the Republic of Korea (“Korea”) or flights originating in Korea and ending in the United States.
There is a claim form online if you want your cash and coupons; class members should get formal notice shortly. One of the lead class counsel is Jeff Westerman, who you might remember from his Milberg days for his role in the NVIDIA settlement bait-and-switch where he hired an expert witness to testify against letting class members recover what the settlement notice told them they'd recover. So one is skeptical when one reads in the settlement that "Korean Air and Class Counsel shall set the maximum coupon redemption value per ticket by mutual agreement."
Monday, September 9, 2013
- In Fraley v. Facebook, the district court adopted our theory of attorneys' fees (zero value for injunctive relief and for settlement money paid to administrators); the parties, perhaps in response to our objection, upped the class-member award to $15 from $10. So a fee reduction of $2.5 to $3 million, with several million more available for the class. Not a bad day's work, and enough of an improvement that we're not going to appeal the parts of the decision the court got wrong.
- Speaking of whether class counsel should get a commission on money paid to the settlement administrator... You may recall the Ninth Circuit throwing out a bad settlement (in an opinion later modified) over Frosted Mini-Wheats that paid $800,000 to consumers, $2 million to lawyers, and some unknown figure to unknown cy pres. On remand, the parties set up a $4 million settlement fund—but $900,000 or so is earmarked for settlement administration. Is that a $4 million settlement, or is it really a $3.1 million settlement, because that's all the class can hope to get? Class counsel is "only" seeking $1 million this time, which is still disproportionate to actual class relief; meanwhile, the objectors who turned the $800,000 in class relief into over $2 million of class relief aren't being given anything. This morning, I'll be at the fairness hearing in San Diego, presenting the CCAF objection of Chicago Law professor Todd Henderson. Class counsel's main argument against us is that we're funded by the Koch brothers (not remotely true), and therefore we should be ignored.
- We filed a cert petition appealing our Second Circuit loss in Sirius. I'll write a longer post about that, plus our amicus support.
- Another case that merits a longer post is a fascinating Eighth Circuit brief we filed last week in an appeal of a $2.6 million cy pres award.
- Speaking of bad cy pres (and bad coupon settlements), we filed our opening Ninth Circuit brief in EasySaver Rewards ($8.85 million for attorneys, $3 million for local cy pres, $225,000 and worthless coupons for the class) in July.
- CCAF attorney Adam Schulman filed an objection to the horrendous settlement in Berry v. LexisNexis, which is like Dry Max Pampers, but far worse, with a larger class and the attorneys asking for $5.5 million. This merits a longer post, but we were honored that a passel of very highly-paid attorneys representing a competing class action and their objectors saw fit to adopt so many of our arguments.
- In Pearson v. Target Corp., class counsel is seeking $4.5 million for a settlement over glucosamine sales likely to pay less than half of that to the class. I am a class member, and CCAF attorney Melissa Holyoke filed an objection on my behalf.
- In the Southwest Drink Voucher case, the court approved the settlement, but hasn't ruled on the attorneys' fees yet. We're deciding whether to appeal.
- Cato filed an amicus in support of our cert petition in the Facebook Beacon case.
- More press coverage than you can shake a stick at. And I did a lengthy "Liberty Law Talk" podcast with Richard Reisch about class action abuse generally.
Tuesday, August 13, 2013
We maintain a complete set of our press coverage. Have we forgotten something? Drop us a line.
In addition, when I started doing this in 2009, I joked that there were only a dozen cases worth reading. That number is way up in 2013. We'd like to take some credit, given seven precedential appellate victories under CCAF's belt, and a number of good district-court and appellate decisions based on our litigation or on precedents we created. We've started a web page on the subject (which will be helpful for others wanting to object or design courses on the subject); happy to take suggestions if we left something important out.
We'd like to make our website a little nicer. If you have a good design sense and happen to want to provide us some pro bono web work to set us up a system that we can easily maintain, drop us a line.
Sunday, August 11, 2013
- The Ninth Circuit rejected en banc review of our victory in HP Inkjet. Here, for the record, is our successful opposition to the en banc petitions.
- In Wyeth Securities, the district court reduced an excessive fee request by $3,037,500. That puts CCAF over the quarter-billion-dollar mark lifetime in attorney-fee reductions or rejections in cases where we objected. I can't say I'm thrilled with the opinion, which makes a number of legal mistakes that will get used against future objectors, doesn't fairly address our objection, and says gratuitously unfair things about me, but, as I discuss at Point of Law, I'd rather a judge say mean things about me and then increase the benefit to the class than for a judge to say nice things about me and then rubber stamp a bad settlement and fee request.
- We'll accept praise from our peers, certainly. It's behind a paywall, but those of you with Law360 subscriptions can read a piece by Jeffrey Jacobson analyzing and praising our "impressive" track record, and warning defendants that they need to take more care in crafting class-action settlements. He's absolutely wrong about HP Inkjet, though.
- Speaking of good press coverage, we expect to have some good news later this week.
Friday, August 9, 2013
Details at Point of Law. Earlier on this blog.
Press and blog coverage: Fisher @ Forbes; Adler @ Volokh; Bloomberg; Wolfman 1; Wolfman 2; Cincinnati Business Courier; ABA Journal; WSJ Law Blog ($); Litigation Daily ($); Law360 ($). And a local tv news report that demonstrates why watching tv news makes you stupider.
Law360 also runs a lengthy thinkpiece analyzing a run of our recent cases, calling our results "impressive."
Friday, August 2, 2013
Monday, July 29, 2013
Friday, July 12, 2013
All persons who, between August 24, 2010 and November 21, 2011, paid by credit or debit card for products or services and received an electronically-printed receipt from any Store that contained the expiration date of the person's credit or debit card.
Excluded from the Settlement Class are Defendant, its officers, employees, and attorneys; transactions conducted with business credit or debit cards; and transactions made with RadioShack-branded debit or credit cards, as those cards do not contain expiration dates.One hopes a class member aggrieved by this lawyers-first settlement will contact a non-profit attorney willing to help them object to a settlement with such an unfair and illegal fee request.
Friday, May 24, 2013
This week's fairness hearing on the Southwest drink voucher class action settlement raised similar issues and discussed the import of the Inkjet decision; plaintiffs' counsel there claimed that they were told by Inkjet counsel that they plan to seek en banc review. If they do, the petition would be due next week.
Wednesday, May 8, 2013
Monday, May 6, 2013
Friday, May 3, 2013
Tuesday, April 23, 2013
Already, the number of claims has doubled: combined with the tripling of claim amounts, we're looking at over a 500% increase in the amount of money going to consumers. In a just world, we'd get five sixths of the gigantic attorney fee (after all, class counsel ridiculed our objection and defended the degree to which their own clients were going to be shafted), but we'll settle for making a more modest request, to be paid from the $9.2 million class counsel has argued they are due to receive, with any amounts over our lodestar to be donated to the class or the Federal Judicial Center.
Monday, April 15, 2013
Sunday, April 14, 2013
Thursday, March 28, 2013
Tuesday, March 26, 2013
Saturday, February 23, 2013
McDonald's was going to pay $700,000 for selling "Haram" chicken sandwiches and labeling it as "Halal". The current lawyer on the case wants the the [sic] majority of the money to go to a medical center ($275,000) and a museum ($150,000), that lawyer Kassem Daklallah, wants to pocket $230,000 and the plaintiff, Ahmed Ahmed will keep $20,000. We think the money should go to you, the people who were lied to and bought and ate "Haram" chicken sandwiches, not a medical center or a museum who were not injured. ...This seems a reasonable criticism: after all, the class is relatively small (observant Muslims who ate at the particular McDonald's restaurant), so distributing $425,000 to claimants is feasible. And, as Baby Products and the American Law Institute confirm, cy pres should be the last resort (rather than opening gambit) in a settlement. If Daklallah, his law firm, McDonald's, or their attorneys have preexisting relationships with the cy pres recipients, that would be even worse, because then the cy pres would be illusory relief. A $20,000 proposed payment to the class representative in a $0 settlement is further evidence of self-dealing.
At plaintiff's request, the Michigan state court enjoined Moughni, and forced a change to the Facebook page to put forward Ahmed's preferred view of the case. This is a scary First Amendment violation, and that the court signed off on it makes one wonder whether the court can fairly adjudicate objections to the settlement. Public Citizen is on the right side in this one, and, along with the ACLU, is litigating in favor of the objector's rights. [Public Citizen; Dan Fisher @ Forbes; Detroit Free Press]
(Of course, there are certainly strong arguments against using the consumer fraud laws to mediate a religious dispute. If the lawsuit reflects a disagreement over what constitutes "halal," courts shouldn't be adjudicating the religious question. If the lawsuit reflects an objectively false claim that a particular organization certified the food as "halal," then that's a legitimate complaint. But even if the possibly fatal flaw in the lawsuit means the settlement is necessarily small, that is no excuse for the attorneys, class representative, and unrelated third parties to capture the entirety of the value of the settlement.)
Public Citizen and the ACLU are taking no position on the fairness of the settlement, which makes sense for the strategic purpose of focusing on the First Amendment issues. Since we're not involved in the case, and will not be representing any clients in the Michigan proceedings, I hope that even the attorneys who negotiated this awful settlement will concede I have the right to speak about what I think is a breach of fiduciary duty to their clients.
Tuesday, February 19, 2013
Wednesday, February 6, 2013
But the attorneys—led by Hagens Berman—are asking for $5.1 million for themselves. The fee is supposedly justified because about $8-$9 million will end up in the hands of cy pres recipients such as the American Heart Association. Of course, Bayer already gives money to the AHA (and the AHA returns the favor by endorsing Bayer aspirin over other brands of aspirin), so this is really just a change in accounting entries rather than any sort of class benefit.
I'm a class member and I have objected through my attorney Adam Schulman of the Center for Class Action Fairness. The case is In re Bayer Corp. Combination Aspirin Prods. Mktg. & Sales Pract. Lit., No. 09-md-2023 (BMC) (E.D.N.Y.).
Tuesday, February 5, 2013
Friday, January 18, 2013
- Wednesday, I argued the case of Kazman v. Frontier Oil in Houston, which raises the issue of whether Texas law permits the "deal tax": the extortionate lawsuits over merger disclosures that get settled for pricy attorneys' fees and nothing of value to the shareholders that the attorneys are supposed to be representing. Thanks to client CEI attorney Sam Kazman, and to D. Wade Carvell, who was both extraordinarily generous and effective with his pro bono time on the case. [CEI press release; Kazman podcast; earlier on POL; more on POL]
- West Virginia medical monitoring settlement: $6.62 million for attorneys, up to $6.58 million in funding for medical examinations for class, but the money is likely to go to charity, and there will be no free exams after 2014. I'm quoted, after the West Virginia Record called me up for my analysis.
- Legal Newsline covers the Southwest Airlines drink voucher class action settlement. [Legal Newsline; earlier on POL]
Friday, January 11, 2013
Thing is, we know from decades of history of coupon settlements that less than $1 million of these coupons are going to get used; heck less than $1 million are likely to be claimed. The settlement is worth "perhaps more than $29 million" only in the sense that "perhaps" the atoms in the chair you are sitting on will all simultaneously shift one foot to the left. Customers are getting notified by email, but the vouchers aren't being sent to them by email. That's because Southwest wants to limit its liability, but the attorneys want to maximize their payout; they both have the incentive to exaggerate the true value of the settlement. If they told the court the settlement was worth less than $1 million to the class, the court might ask questions why a disproportionate share is reserved for the attorneys; if they asked the court to follow the strictures of the Class Action Fairness Act, which requires attorney awards to be tied to the value of redeemed coupons, the attorneys would have no chance at $7 million.
One hopes a class member sees through this misleading unfairness, and finds pro bono counsel willing to object.
The class consists of "All Southwest customers who purchased an Eligible Drink Voucher through the purchase of a Business Select ticket or otherwise, during the time period before August 1, 2010, but who did not redeem the Eligible Drink Voucher. The Class does not include Southwest customers who obtained drink vouchers or drink coupons through the Southwest Rapid Rewards program, unless those customers separately purchased, but did not redeem, Eligible Drink Vouchers through the purchase of a Business Select ticket or otherwise." The case is In re Southwest Airlines Voucher Litigation, No. 11-cv-8176 (N.D. Ill.).
Saturday, January 5, 2013
(Update: thanks to counsel who volunteered. The class member has opted out and been directed to the appropriate attorney running a parallel opt-in federal class action.)
Thursday, January 3, 2013
- Another bad coupon settlement: In re EasySaver Rewards Litig., No. 09-cv-2094 (S.D. Cal.). The $20 face value of the coupons is illusory, because the coupons preclude the use of the normal 20% offers on the defendant's website. Of course, the class counsel is seeking fees based on the face value; the settlement has illegal cy pres, too. We objected on behalf of a class member.
- Pecover v. Electronic Arts, Inc., No. 4:08-cv-02820 (N.D. Cal.) involves a settlement that will pay about $1 million to the class, but the attorneys are seeking $9.2 million for themselves. I'm a class member in an unfair video-game class action settlement? Of course I'm objecting!
- On December 20, the Second Circuit issued a disappointing summary order affirming the $0 Blessing v. Sirius XM settlement where the attorneys walked away with $13 million. [Reuters] We'll be filing a petition for rehearing and rehearing en banc today, and are looking for pro bono Supreme Court counsel for a cert petition if the Second Circuit doesn't correct its legal error.
Wednesday, January 2, 2013
Update: new postcard notice has gone out; there has been much press coverage. More details at Point of Law.