Dennis v. Berg

In a class action, any settlement must be approved by the court to ensure that class counsel and the named plaintiffs do not place their own interests above those of the absent class members. In this false advertising case, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals confronted a class action settlement, negotiated prior to class certification, that included cy pres distributions of money and food to unidentified charities. The settlement also included $2 million in attorneys' fees, the equivalent of a $2,100 hourly rate, while offering class members a sum of $15. The Court set aside the class settlement, holding (1) the district court did not apply the correct legal standards governing cy pres distributions and thus abused its discretion in approving the settlement; and (2) the settlement failed because the negotiated attorneys' fees were excessive. Remanded. View "Dennis v. Berg" on Justia Law