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Posts Tagged ‘gift card settlement’

A Los Angeles County Superior Court judge’s attempt to exact poetic justice out of a proposed gift card settlement has resulted in a censure by the California Commission on Judicial Performance, according to this article from the legal humor blog, Lowering the Bar.  The censure stems from a ruling on a motion for final approval of a settlement that reportedly called for a $125,000 fee for the plaintiffs’ lawyer and $10 gift card for settlement class members.  Judge Brett Klein, filling in for an ill colleague in presiding over the final fairness hearing, had initially approved the settlement only on the condition that the fee also be paid in gift cards (although he apparently later granted reconsideration of that order and the settlement was ultimately approved as originally proposed). 

It sounds like the cult hero status that Judge Klein will have attained among some factions of society as a result of the ruling may have more than compensated for the shame of the public censure, especially since he has since retired from the bench.  But whether or not you think the lawyer got what he deserved, other aspects of the conduct that reportedly led to the censure have to be troubling, such as sarcastic comments to the attorneys during the fairness hearing and “grandstanding” to the press about the order.  It is one thing to believe that “coupon” settlements are unfair and should not be allowed, it is quite another for a judge to publicly mock lawyers and litigants for seeking relief that is within his power to simply deny with dignity and decorum.

Postscript: 2/8/10 – Following my posting of the original article above, a reader sent me the following, which may be of interest to others as well:

If you’re curious what sarcastic remarks the Court made, you can read
the ten examples quoted on pages 3-4 of the official censure order:

One would need to look at the entire 32-page reporter’s transcript to find out
what the attorneys told the Court about the details of the settlement.

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I got the following query by email yesterday from Erik Cansler of Class Action Administration, Inc., probably my most loyal reader (maybe my only loyal reader), and got his permission to share with the world.  Unfortunately, I can’t confirm the story, but I can say that other reputable blogs, such as Overlawyered, seem to have picked it up, maybe for its entertainment value more than for its news-worthiness.  I’m hoping to convince Erik to contribute some guest posts for ClassActionBlawg.com, so stay tuned.

Paul,

I hope you’re doing well.  Over here at Class Action Administration we’ve been working on our usual variety of cases. Lately we’ve been seeing more settlements of California class actions brought under the Song-Beverly Credit Card Act, which prohibits merchants collecting personal information (like address and phone) from customers who pay with a credit card.

The California Civil Justice Blog is reporting a new twist. I thought I’d see if you’d heard of this, and if so, whether you’ve found it to be legit (the blog entry is at http://www.cjac.org/blog/2009/01/attorney-earns-gift-cards-inst.php):

A southern California attorney who brought a class action against a clothes retailer will be paid $125,000 for his legal services — in gift cards.

Yorba Linda attorney Neil B. Fineman brought a class action lawsuit against Windsor Fashions, alleging the company was committing routine violations of the Song-Beverly Credit Card Act, according to the Metropolitan News-Enterprise.

Per the settlement agreement, class members won’t receive cash, only a $10 gift card. Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Brett Klein also provided that Fineman will be paid his fee with “12,500 ten-dollar Windsor Fashions gift cards.”

It seems unlikely to me. What do you think?

Best Regards,

Erik Cansler

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