Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Pampers Dry Max class action settlement objection

This week, we objected to a $0 settlement of the Pampers Dry Max class action that proposes paying $2.7 million to the lawyers. More details at Point of Law. Adam Schulman will argue at the fairness hearing in federal court in Cincinnati next month.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Sirius XM settlement approved

Judge Baer approved the $0 Blessing v. Sirius XM settlement and $13 million fee award yesterday. The decision contradicts (and ignores) Bluetooth, Aqua Dots, and the Class Action Fairness Act (which applies to "coupons" and not just "coupons 'to purchase something [class members] might not otherwise purchase'"), and applied the wrong standard of law in creating an essentially irrebuttable presumption of fairness for the settlement. So we'll have an interesting appeal to the Second Circuit, which will either have to reverse or create a circuit split.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011 class action settlement (again)

I'm getting lots of emails about the class action settlement notice. We're aware of it, because we're already in the case: we earlier successfully objected to the first version of the settlement where the attorneys were asking for $1.05 million while the class received only $117,000. The new settlement is certainly improved—$2.5 million is better than $117,000, though it still reflects a nuisance settlement—but, as many of you of noted, the fees are excessive (and violate Bluetooth standards). We'll be objecting again.

Monday, August 22, 2011

CCAF wins in Ninth Circuit

WASHINGTON, DC - The Center for Class Action Fairness LLC announced today its victory in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit objecting to a valueless class action settlement. On Friday, the appellate court vacated a district court's 2009 approval of a settlement of a lawsuit alleging that Bluetooth headset manufacturers committed fraud when they failed to give more prominent warnings that listening to headsets continually at loud volumes might cause hearing damage. (A similar class action over Apple iPods was dismissed.) The settlement would have provided no cash to the class, but $850,000 to the attorneys. The Center believes that this is the first time the Ninth Circuit has vacated approval of a class action settlement since 2003.

"This is a landmark decision," said Ted Frank, the founder of CCAF who argued the appeal. "The Court explicitly upheld the principle that the absence of explicit collusion is not enough for a court to approve a settlement when the attorneys have negotiated a self-serving settlement at the expense of their clients. It is important because the Court identified as problematic several tactics attorneys use to protect proposed fee awards from scrutiny such as 'clear sailing' clauses that prohibit defendants from challenging proposed fee awards and 'kickers' that preclude the class from receiving any reduction in the fee award. The decision further emphasizes that any fee request based on 'lodestar' rates has to be cross-checked against benefits actually received by the class. It will now be much more difficult for attorneys to abuse the class action system to negotiate low-value settlements that provide handsome compensation for themselves."

The case is In re Bluetooth Headset Products Liability Litigation, No. 09-56683.

The Center for Class Action Fairness, founded in 2009, is a not-for-profit program that provides pro bono representation to consumers and shareholders aggrieved by class action attorneys who negotiate settlements that benefit themselves at the expense of their putative clients. It has won millions of dollars for class members over the last two years.

Georgia investigation into judge's use of cy pres

I'm quoted in a newspaper's investigation into a Georgia judge's seemingly self-serving use of cy pres awards. More details at Point of Law.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

I'm kind of annoyed at the Los Angeles Daily Journal

CCAF, a non-profit project unaffiliated with and unsupported by any corporate funding, does not lobby. But the LA Daily Journal says that they don't need to run a correction for a sentence beginning with the phrase "Corporate lobbyists and advocacy groups such as CCAF" because, according to them, they're not claiming that CCAF is a lobbyist. It seems to me that the only people who could make that sort of sophistic argument are convicted child molesters and editors such as David Houston of the Los Angeles Daily Journal.

The LA Daily Journal op-ed critical of CCAF was written by a Kabateck Brown Kellner attorney; at no point does it disclose that we've objected to four of Kabateck's settlements (all of which paid substantially more to the attorneys than the class), resulting in one settlement rejection and another ruling reducing their fee request by nearly a million dollars, with two other cases still pending.

(At the risk of killing the joke, I wish to make clear that I have no basis to think that David Houston has been convicted of child molestation or any other sex offense.)

Friday, August 12, 2011

Opening brief filed in appeal of Volkswagen class action settlement approval

We filed our opening brief last Friday. Details at Point of Law.

It's still unclear to me why the Third Circuit waited a year before our briefs were due from our appeal of a class action settlement approval. (Dewey v. Volkswagen is reported at 728 F. Supp. 2d 546.)