The Center for Class Action Fairness at the Competitive Enterprise Institute objected to the settlement in the lawsuit In re Google Inc. Cookie Placement Consumer Privacy Litigation, challenging the fairness of the settlement for the class as well as the high dollar amount of the proposed attorneys’ fees.
In this class action case, plaintiffs sued Google for alleged federal privacy violations over Google’s circumvention of Safari browser users’ privacy settings, but class counsel negotiated a settlement that provided $0 to class members and $5.5 million to be divided between class counsel and third-party charities. One of those charities is a non-profit for which co-lead counsel serves as chairman of the board, and several others are charities to which Google routinely donates, bringing into question the benefit to the class.
CEI Attorney Adam Schulman said, “This settlement exemplifies the problem of class action attorneys behaving as if they have no clients other than the general public. It is unacceptable to propose a settlement that waives class members’ rights yet provides them absolutely nothing in return.”
See more information on this case, including today’s brief here.
The Competitive Enterprise Institute’s Center for Class Action Fairness represents class members against unfair class action procedures and settlements. Originally founded by Ted Frank in 2009, the center has won millions for consumers and shareholders, and won landmark precedents that safeguard consumers, investors, courts, and the general public.
Unfair settlements generally serve self-interested lawyers and third parties at the expense of absent class members, the group of people whose rights are traded away to settle a class action. Lawyers have an interest in their fees, defendants have an interest in cheaply disposing of a lawsuit, and the class’s interests can take a back seat in the process. CEI seeks to solve these problems by representing such class members pro bono and presenting judges with the other side of the argument.