Ninth Circuit Affirms $8.5 Million Google Settlement

The Courthouse News Service discusses the Center for Class Action Fairness’ objection to a proposed settlement that would give class members nothing and big payouts to lawyers’ favorite charities.

The Center for Class Action Fairness at the Competitive Enterprise Institute objected to the settlement on behalf of two class members, arguing that “the class members will not see one penny.”

On appeal, the objectors argued that a cy pres settlement was inappropriate and that the $8.5 million should have been used to fund a claims process or lottery distribution to class members.

They took particular issue with the relationships some of the recipients have with class counsel and Google: Class attorney Michael Aschenbrener attended Chicago-Kent, and class attorney Kassra Nassiri attended Stanford and Harvard. Google donates to the Berkman Center, the Stanford Center, AARP, and Chicago-Kent.

Ted Frank, one of the objectors and an attorney with the Competitive Enterprise Institute, said Tuesday that Wallace’s dissent didn’t go far enough. He said the majority opinion created a circuit split with the Third, Seventh, Eighth, and possibly Fifth Circuits, and he plans to file a petition for a rehearing before a three-judge panel or a full panel of the court.

“These aren’t close questions, and just turning it into letting lawyers say things under oath, it doesn’t change the perverse incentives, and you need to void those perverse incentives entirely and you need a bright-line rule,” Frank said in an interview.

“We’re going to see tens of millions of dollars diverted from class members to lawyers’ favorite charities.”

Read the full article here.