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Google Privacy Class Objectors Tell High Court Cy Pres-Only Settlement is Unfair

Citations

Mealy's covers CEI's Supreme Court case Frank v. Gaos. CEI Director of Litigation Ted Frank will be arguing the case before the court and representing himself, along with fellow class member CEI Senior Attorney Melissa Holyoak.

Two objectors to the $8.5 million settlement of a privacy class action against Google LLC, tell the U.S. Supreme Court in a July 9 merits brief that the distribution of settlement funds to cy pres recipients, rather than class members, does not constitute a “fair, reasonable, and adequate” settlement of the class claims per Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23 (Theodore H. Frank, et al. v. Paloma Gaos, et al., No. 17-961, U.S. Sup.).

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Class members Theodore Frank and Melissa Holyoak appealed to the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, objecting to the settlement.  They faulted the solely cy pres nature of the settlement in light of similar Ninth Circuit settlements that “have successfully distributed similar sums to similarly-sized classes through a claims process.”  The objectors also took issue with the fact that the cy pres recipients include “three of class counsel’s alma maters and at least five organizations with previously budgeted donations from Google.”

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Disagreeing with the Ninth Circuit’s conclusion that the settlement proceeds were nondistributable, the objectors argue that the correct feasibility standard is to determine whether "relief can be distributed to some identifiable class members . . . and not whether the proceeds could be distributed to every potential class member."  If permitted to stand, the petitioners argue that the Ninth Circuit’s ruling runs the risk of "sweep[ing] nearly every consumer class-action settlement . . . into a cy pres-only category, because such settlements rarely compensate more than a tiny fraction of class members."

Read the full article at Mealy's.