Court Vacates Predatory Bluetooth Headset Deal

Courthouse News Service reports on Center for Class Action Fairness' objection to a settlement set to benefit the plaintiffs' lawyers but not the class members who were harmed.

Lawyers may have sold out their clients in negotiating a settlement for consumers who suffered noise-induced hearing loss from using Bluetooth headsets, the 9th Circuit ruled Friday, tossing the deal that would have given attorneys eight times as much as the plaintiffs.

Lawyers eventually reached a settlement that would award the class $100,000 to be split among four nonprofits working to prevent hearing loss, and $12,000 to divide among nine class representatives.

Their attorneys, however, stood to take home as much as $850,000, plus more than $1 million to notify consumers about the agreement.

These terms outraged at least 50 of the "millions of potential class members," but U.S. District Judge Dale Fischer found nothing amiss in the huge gulf between the class award and the attorneys' fee set-aside.

The objectors then appealed to the 9th Circuit, which reversed and vacated the settlement.

"We agree that the disparity between the value of the class recovery and class counsel's compensation raises at least an inference of unfairness, and that the current record does not adequately dispel the possibility that class counsel bargained away a benefit to the class in exchange for their own interests," Judge Michael Daly Hawkins wrote for the unanimous three-judge panel sitting in Pasadena.

Read the full article at Courthouse News Service.