Monday, I attended the fairness hearing for the Bluetooth MDL settlement. UCLA math professor and client Henry Towsner was in the audience.
Dozens of people filed objections with the court, but, aside from the CCAF objection, only 12 of those successfully navigated the procedural maze to file a “valid” objection. Out of those, we were the only ones to cite precedent in favor of our objection. And we were the only ones to make an appearance in court, which suggests that this would’ve been a quiet rubber-stamp without our appearance and filing.
After hearing from all sides, Judge Fischer took the position that settlements are favored outcomes in a world of crowded dockets, and, even if the case is meritless and unlikely to succeed, it is preferable to allow defendants to get out of the case by paying a small cy pres sum, since the plaintiffs would get nothing if the case was thrown out. The judge ruled that the settlement was fair and adequate, and approved the settlement. She postponed a ruling on the attorneys’ fees (despite my argument that the fairness of the settlement was inextricably tied to the fee award). The plaintiffs have until August 5 to submit additional material in support of their fee request; the defendants will file a proposed order by July 20.
This is a settlement that is arguably fair if the fees are knocked down sufficiently so that the attorneys are not receiving more than their putative clients; though the plaintiffs negotiated a “clear sailing” clause where the defendants will not object to fees, the fee request was severable from the rest of the settlement. We will know more in August or September.