You may recall that I was not pleased with an Apple settlement that provided for $2.5 million to go to a series of universities and law schools with “corporate governance” programs (two of which were affiliated with the lead plaintiffs’ counsel) instead of to the purportedly injured class members. (See also coverage from Ira Stoll, Jim Copland, John Carney, and Lyle Roberts.) Such “cy pres” awards are a breach of class counsel’s fiduciary duty to the class by putting the interests of unrelated third parties ahead of their putative clients.
After I sent a letter to class counsel and counsel for Apple notifying them that I had a client who was going to object, the parties quickly rushed to court and submitted a modified settlement. Now, class members have first bite at the $2.5 million, an approximately 15% increase in what shareholders can recover in the settlement; Harvard, Columbia, and the University of Delaware will not get any of it.
This is definitely a material improvement (and one that would entitle the Center to attorneys’ fees), but it’s still not good enough; I’ve asked the court to refuse preliminary approval until the settlement guarantees that the class gets the entirety of the $16.5 million settlement fund.