On May 17, a federal district court judge approved again the certification of an unfair class action stemming from the 2013 Target data breach. The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals had sent the case back to the Minnesota district court to reconsider the objections of class member Leif Olson, represented by the Competitive Enterprise Institute’s Center for Class Action Fairness, who appealed the original approval of the class action settlement. CEI will return to the Eighth Circuit to challenge this recent order. CEI senior attorney Melissa Holyoak offered the following statement about the disappointing ruling:
The Target class action settlement freezes out millions of people from settlement relief. Although these class members had their financial data stolen, they are releasing their future-damages claims against Target in exchange for nothing. The Competitive Enterprise Institute will challenge this unfair, unlawful ruling in the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals.
Background on the case, Target Corporation Customer Data Security Breach Litigation:
- Forty-one million consumers had credit card information stolen and 60 million consumers had personal information stolen as a result of the data breach. But the subsequent settlement deal helped class attorneys far more than class members. The terms of the deal provided a $10 million fund to class members who could submit a claim showing specific losses, gave class counsel a disproportionate $6.75 million fee, and left a large subclass of class members with zero recovery.
- CEI attorneys argued that the class action could not be certified because it froze out millions of class members without separate representation and legal counsel. CEI further objected to the excessive fee request and the inclusion of a “kicker” clause, whereby any decrease in the fee request would revert to the defendant (Target).
- In February 2017, the Eighth Circuit remanded the case back to the district court, finding that the lower court abandoned its ongoing duty to ensure class certification was proper when it failed to consider CEI’s objections. Additionally, the judge reversed the lower court’s ruling for an unlawful appeal bond and ordered that $46,872 be returned to CEI.
> Melissa Holyoak’s commentary on the case: Class Action Lawyers in Target Case Hoard the Settlement Pie