Saska v. Metropolitan Museum of Art

Class member and CCAF attorney Anna St. John objected to settlement approval, class certification, and the request for attorneys’ fees in Saska v. Metropolitan Museum of Art. The case involved the Museum’s “pay what you wish” admission policy, in particular claims that the policy deceived the public in violation of state law. The proposed settlement provides class members with near-worthless injunctive relief, primarily in the form of changes to the wording of the admission price: “suggested” and “the amount you pay is up to you” will be substituted for “recommended.”

At the same time, and in a clear signal of who the settlement was structured to primarily benefit, the class attorneys are seeking fees of $350,000. The proposed settlement suffered from the further defect that the proposed relief benefits only future museum visitors, while the class is defined to include only past visitors—many of whom will not visit the museum in the future and therefore will not recover even nominal value from the proposed policy changes.

The fairness hearing was held on May 5, 2017, at the Supreme Court of the State of New York, New York County.

On June 15, 2017, the court approved the settlement and requested attorneys’ fee award in Saska v. Metropolitan Museum of Art. The court denied an incentive award for the named plaintiffs on the grounds it lacked authority to make such awards.