AOL’s attorney’s comment is revealing: all they cared about was whether they were able to get rid of the frivolous claims against them in a nuisance lawsuit. But the Center cares more about establishing precedents and rules governing the long-term fairness of class actions than any individual result. That larger issue was irrelevant to AOL, so they think they have a victory, but we do, too. Reuters, through Professor Brian Fitzpatrick, questions whether it makes a difference: it does. Class actions are supposed to benefit the class first, rather than the attorneys. When the attorneys have carte blanche to choose cy pres recipients, they effectively get double-payment. To the extent Professor Fitzpatrick cares about defendant deterrence as a reason for class actions, he should be pleased that the defendant would not be allowed to dictate illusory cy pres that goes to their preferred charitable donee.
Interestingly, Kabateck Brown Kellner, whose attorneys had written a dishonest op-ed criticizing CCAF’s defense of class members in cy pres settlements without revealing they were adverse to us in four cases (all four of which have now resulted in CCAF court victories), couldn’t even be bothered to file a Ninth Circuit brief making a public-policy argument for their preferred tactic of abusive cy pres.