If you’re interested in what “appropriate” governmental officals could do after receiving notice of a federal class action settlement, here’s a case that might interest you. (See my earlier entries on the official notice requirements of 28 U.S.C. 1715 dated March 28 and April 9). In Figueroa v. Sharper Image Corp., Case No. 05-21251-CIV-ALTONAGA/Bandstra (S.D. Fla., Oct. 11, 2007) (Click Here for a Copy of the Order), the court denied final approval of a coupon settlement in no small part due to an amicus brief critical of the settlement filed by Attorneys General of about 35 states and the District of Columbia. This is one of the rare cases after the passage of CAFA in which government officials have actually taken steps to comment on the settlement after receiving notice, but it reflects both the influence that government officials may have on a class action settlement if they believe that it is necessary to take action and means by which they might take action if they choose to do so. The statute does not prescribe or even expressly permit any particular action to be taken by officials in response to a CAFA notice, but as the Sharper Image decision illustrates, an amicus brief filed by one or more officials in objection to a settlement is likely to strongly influence the court’s final approval decision.
Many thanks to Andy McCallin of the Colorado AG’s office for tipping me off to this decision. Andy gave a fantastic presentation today on the role of the “appropriate” state officials under CAFA for the inaugural CLE luncheon sponsored by the CBA Class Actions subsection.