Class Action Activist asks SCOTUS to Review Charity-Only Settlements

Reuters reports on Ted Frank and the Center for Class Action Fairness' move to bring the Facebook Beacon case to the Supreame Court to object the settlement that did not benefit class members.

Ted Frank of the Center for Class Action Fairness is not so sure. On Friday, Frank and lawyers from Baker Hostetler filed a petition for a writ of certiorari at the U.S. Supreme Court, asking the justices to review the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals’ approval of a $9.5 million settlement of class action allegations that Facebook’s now-dismantled “Beacon” program violated users’ privacy by revealing their online purchases. More than $6 million of that money was directed to the establishment of a new Internet privacy foundation with an advisory board that includes a Facebook representative and a plaintiffs’ lawyer from the case. Class counsel were also awarded $2.3 million in fees. Class members, meanwhile, received no direct compensation at all from the settlement.

Kleinfeld’s strong dissent helped persuade Frank and the Center for Class Action Fairness that the Facebook Beacon case was a good candidate for Supreme Court review of cy pres. Frank, who litigated the In re Baby Products case at the 3rd Circuit and has written and spoken for years about what he considers the dangerous conflicts inherent in cy pres settlements, wasn’t involved in the Facebook Beacon appeal at the 9th Circuit. According to Frank, after the entire appellate court declined to take the Beacon objectors’ case en banc, he asked objectors’ counsel from Public Citizen if they were going to file a cert petition and, if so, if he could help. “They didn’t get back to us with interest,” he said.

Frank said he’s actively seeking amicus support for his Supreme Court bid from public interest groups along the political spectrum. He’d still like Public Citizen to get involved, and he’s hoping the U.S. Chamber of Commerce won’t feel conflicted because corporate defendants benefit from settling cases through cy pres deals. The Cato Institute, Frank said, has already expressed interest in the Supreme Court appeal.

Read the full article at Reuters.