Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Amicus brief in Standard Fire Ins. Co. v. Knowles

As I've previously written:

The Class Action Fairness Act was intended to protect consumers against the unfair class action settlements rubber-stamped in state courts by creating federal jurisdiction in nationwide class actions with more than the $5 million jurisdictional minimum at stake. Some plaintiffs' lawyers have attempted to avoid federal court by purporting to limit the rights of their absent clients to less than $5 million, notwithstanding any claims they might be able to make, with the idea of negotiating an attorney-friendly settlement in state court. Most courts reject this tactic, most notably Judge Easterbrook in the 2011 Back Doctors decision, noting that any such disclaimer violates Rule 23(a)(4)'s adequacy requirement. The Eighth Circuit, however, has honored such forum-shopping attempts, resulting in numerous remands to the judicial hellhole of Texarkana, Arkansas.
[On August 31], the Supreme Court granted certiorari to an Eighth Circuit denial of an appeal of such a remand, The Standard Fire Insurance Co. v. KnowlesThe Center for Class Action Fairness filed an amicus brief in support of certiorari, making us one for three in cases where we've filed amicus briefs in support of certiorari.
Monday, we filed an amicus brief in support of the merits with the generous pro bono help of McGuire Woods. Further information will eventually be posted at SCOTUSblog.

In other Supreme Court / Andrew Trask news, the Supreme Court denied certiorari to our former client, Kimberly Craven, who unsuccessfully appealed our unfortunate loss in the D.C. Circuit in the Cobell litigation. We can expect a denial of the weaker Good Bear petition next week.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Opening brief in Ninth Circuit MagSafe appeal

In the In re Apple MagSafe Power Adapter Litigation, the attorneys walked away with $3.1 million, while the class got less than $1 million, and likely less than a quarter of what the attorneys got. The district court (Judge Ware in the N.D. Cal.) not only rubber-stamped the settlement while ignoring the Bluetooth precedent, but then issued an order to protect the illegitimate settlement, requiring a punitive appeal bond or the dismissal of any appeals. This deterred three of the five appellants, with a fourth being sanctioned for failing to dismiss his appeal. But Marie Newhouse, represented by me and attorneys with the Center for Class Action Fairness, held firm in her objection, and, after some delaying tactics by the plaintiffs, the opening brief was filed today, as we test whether the Bluetooth principles have teeth or can be ignored by district courts and trial lawyers with impunity. To this add another few questions: when is it permissible to have a "claims-made" settlement that pays the attorneys regardless of whether class members make claims or, as in this case, are deterred from making claims by artificial hoop-jumping requirements? Can class counsel take credit for "injunctive relief" that has the defendant doing what it was already doing before the complaint was filed? Is class counsel entitled to a commission on payments to the settlement administrator? Earlier: objection; appeal bond hypocrisy. The case is Kitagawa v. Apple, Inc., No. 12-15782 (9th Cir.).

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

September doings

  • Groupon settlement rejected on cy pres grounds last week after our objection. The attorneys would have received $2.125 million, the class maybe a twentieth of that.
  • I argued the Baby Products case in the Third Circuit, and am cautiously optimistic for a good precedent in a case where the attorneys collected over $14 million and the class was due less than $3 million. Briefing.
  • The fairness hearing in Johnson & Johnson has been postponed until October 18. We filed two expert reports demonstrating that the plaintiffs had failed to present Daubert-satisfactory expert evidence in support of a claim that the $0 settlement provided "substantial benefit" to shareholders.
  • The Ninth Circuit, relying on opinions from two CCAF victories, struck down a settlement on cy pres grounds in Dennis v. Kellogg September 4, also holding that an attorneys' 38.9% share of a settlement ($2 million in this case) would be "clearly excessive."
  • The Center filed with the IRS for stand-alone 501(c)(3) status. I'd like to express tremendous gratitude to everyone at Donors' Trust for all they did to incubate us.