All posts by jh

Fee Fight Update: Delay Delay Delay

A little late on getting this posted, but an opinion came out on the fee fight appeals (9th Cir. case numbers: 13-57061 & 13-57159 – Opinion: Filed May 11, 2016).

Naturally the outcome is yet further delay on any finalization of this settlement.

The 9th kicked this matter back down on remand AND directed it to be reassigned to a different judge.

Sooooo disbursement of funds expected at some point prior to January 1, 2020 2025.

Fee Fight Update: Is anyone ever going to get paid?

Many have wondered and some have asked: are there any updates?

The answer is finally a most resounding sort of.

The oral argument regarding the appeal (and cross-appeal) concerning attorney’s fees that is presently holding up this case took place on 2/2/16 before Judges Stephen Reinhardt, Richard Paez, and Milan Smith. (9th Cir. case numbers: 13-57061 & 13-57159)

Perhaps this will get resolved before the close of 2016. Whenever it does get resolved, there will likely be another call for address updates for obvious reasons. If any updates are sent out, they will be re-posted on this site.

For those playing along at home: the aforementioned appeal was filed after the request for attorney’s fees was rejected over two years ago; the revised settlement was approved over two and half years ago; the proposed settlement we objected to was rejected roughly four and half years ago; and this whole fight began nearly five years ago.

Video of the proceeding is available online and linked below. Please proceed with caution as you could potentially waste up to 28 minutes of your life that could be better spent doing just about anything else.

Disbursement of funds expected at some point prior to January 1, 2020.

Gilardi Site Updated / Appeal Delaying Disbursement

Gilardi updated their site today with the following disclaimer:

Please be advised that an appeal to the Settlement has been filed. This will delay full implementation of the Settlement, including any monetary benefits to be paid to approved claimants, until all appeals are resolved.

We will continue to update this site as information becomes available. If you move or change your contact information in the interim, please contact us to make sure we have your most current information.

This is in line with what I was told a few weeks ago when I spoke with a contact at Gilardi. It’s nice to see that they’ve decided to update their website instead of just leaving everything up in the air.

If your contact info has changed since July 2013, you would be well served in taking their recommendation to get in contact and have Gilardi update their records at (888) 293-3337 or info@barbrisettlement.com.

Fee Fight

UPDATE: Fee request was rejected on November 25, 2013.

Real rejected Baker’s motion. He also granted $4,000 in incentive awards to each of the five representative plaintiffs.

Read more here from the National Law Journal. Also for those interested in a copy of the order granting final approval, a copy is now available here.

Thanks to “Joe” for drawing attention to the settlement’s preliminary approval on Monday (August 19th), but now there’s a battle over attorney fees. The absurdity of some of this is rather striking.

In one settlement, for $9.5 million, attorney George Richard Baker, who represents six objectors, seeks $578,750 in fees for his “remarkably vital role” in raising red flags over an earlier deal that involved coupons; the coupons were later were replaced with cash.

The article goes on to point out the following:

Harris & Ruble, in an August 5 objection, claim Baker’s clients were not responsible for the revised deal. He added that Baker’s firm worked fewer than 70 hours on the case and his clients, whose concerns about the coupons mirrored that of more than 200 other objectors, lack standing to object since they hadn’t submitted claims by the July 8 deadline.

Can’t argue with Harris & Ruble’s logic. Baker wants over $500k for representing six objectors or 2.88% of the objections that we made collectively. Not sure how much of a “remarkably vital role” he played as it seems highly likely the settlement would have been rejected without his contribution. There’s also that whole standing issue…

See this National Law Journal article for the whole scoop. Hopefully there will be final resolution and reward distribution in the not too distant future, preferably without undue dilution by these additional attorney fees.

Gilardi Website (Sort of) Updated

UPDATE (5/7/13 – 12:57 PM EST): Looks like Gilardi updated the rest of the site to include a way to file a claim and some… aesthetic updates too. Of particular note from Question 2 in the FAQ section is the following concerning whether or not you need to file another claim if you did so the last time around (emphasis added):

 If you wish to be eligible to receive a cash payment, you must submit a claim form even if you submitted a one under the prior proposed settlement.

Gilardi’s website (http://www.gilardi.com/barbrisettlement/) has been updated with some new information and a schedule of important deadlines. Unfortunately it appears as though things are only half-baked at the moment.

[This] is only a short summary of the relevant information. Please check this website for more details, including the settlement-related documents, and to use the Claim ID and PIN assigned to you to view the amounts that West’s records show you paid for relevant BAR/BRI courses.

Below is a copy of their updated time table which varies slightly from the proposed schedule in their court filing:

Deadline to File a Claim July 8, 2013
Deadline to File a Request for Exclusion: July 8, 2013
Deadline to File an Objection: July 29, 2013
Deadline to File a Notice to Appear: July 29, 2013
Fairness Hearing: August 19, 2013 at 10:00 a.m.

Will post an update if/when Gilardi updates their site with additional information/forms/etc. regarding this process.

New Settlement Agreement Submitted

After a long period of silence, it looks as if our efforts helped contribute to a near doubling of the settlement.

Kaplan Inc. and West Publishing Corp. have agreed to pay $9.5 million in order to settle class claims that they colluded in the bar exam prep business after a California judge rejected an earlier $5.2 million deal.

(See http://www.law360.com/articles/424204/kaplan-west-agree-to-pay-9-5m-in-bar-prep-antitrust-case for more of their “coverage.”)

Under the new proposed settlement, submitted two days ago, we are looking at all cash and none of those ridiculous discount certificates. Rough breakdown from the $9.5 M: net remainder dived pro rata based on amount paid for BAR/BRI course AFTER admin and notice costs; fee and expense awards to class counsel; and $20K to named plaintiffs. Based on estimates provided in the filing, that split looks roughly $1.6M / $7.9M.

Long story, less long: estimated per-Claimant recovery $166 vs. the prior proposed settlement’s estimated recovery of $92 per-Claimant (based on the final response rate for “Authorized Claimants” or 25.7% of the class).

However, it appears as though the efficacy of the initial approach to class notice is still an open question and it remains to be seen if there will be a substantive difference in the participation rate this time around after all of the brouhaha surrounding this case. Purportedly, Gilardi has 96% of all class members’ addresses and believes the remaining 4% will be “easy to locate at minimal expense.” Good luck to them on that one…

Proposed time table is as follows:

April 15th, 2013 – conditional certification of class, preliminary approval of settlement agreement, claims administrator appointed
May 6, 2013 – claims administrator provides summary notice to class members
July 15, 2013 – deadline for all claim forms, objections, and exclusion requests
August 5, 2013 – hearing on objections / motions for final approval, fees, and reimbursement of costs.

It appears as though this settlement is reasonable at first blush, but if there is cause for pause upon closer review – it’ll get proper attention on here. We’ll also continue to update the site with more info as it becomes available.

Please feel free to leave thoughts, opinions, etc. in the comments by clicking the “leave a comment” above.

Full filing available via PACER (2:08-cv-00810-R-E / Document 138).

Over a year later…

There have been no updates to the official class action settlement website since last June when the settlement was rejected and, to my knowledge, no new public information has been released.

Feel free to contact class counsel at:

Alan Harris & David Zelenski – (323) 962-3777
Perrin F. Disner – (310) 742-7944

 

Victory!

Our efforts, along with those of other groups/individuals including the Center for Class Action Fairness, have paid off and the settlement has been rejected!

“A federal judge refused to sign off on a second settlement in the BAR/BRI antitrust litigation after objectors raised concerns that Kaplan Inc.’s portion of the deal involved coupons…U.S. District Judge Manual Real in Los Angeles had preliminarily approved the deal on March 21. But during a final settlement hearing on June 20, Real indicated that he had concerns about the coupons, which would provide discounts on future Kaplan courses, according to lawyers who attended the hearing. He also cited qualms about the value of the settlement, which includes about $1.7 million in attorney fees, the lawyers said.”

See more at the National Law Journal, “Coupons help sink second BAR/BRI settlement” (http://jhut.ch/tczky).

Numbers.

208 objectors

4,528 words in objection

88 pages total in final formatted, signed version

3 Different FedEx/Kinko’s locations used in one trip

9 days from start to finish for the final version

277 emails received, 74 sent

8 hours from domain registration to website launch

That’s it folks.

Everything has been sent out this evening (5/27) and we are a wrap. The main package’s tracking number is 875855190135. See past the update below for potential options if you missed the deadline and are still interested in objecting on your own.

UPDATE: I spoke with Gilardi today (5/27) and Tuesday will be an acceptable receipt day for timely objections for those interested in sending along their own.  In light of this time extension, I have arranged to have a new copy of the objection replace the one sent yesterday due to significant number of post-deadline sign ons that were made prior to being able to wind down the online form and a couple of last minute withdrawers.  I will be resubmitting the paperwork this evening and will include anyone who wishes to sign on (or exclude anyone who has already signed on but wishes to withdraw) by 5:00 PM EST today (5/27) – this is a firm deadline and no extensions will be made this time around. No changes to the language of the objection posted on the website will be made. The only changes will be made today are additions or deletions to the title and signature pages along with updated dates throughout. A new tracking number will be provided later this evening for those interested.

The package was sent out just before the latest FedEx deadline I could find in my part of town and you can track it yourself if you feel so inclined – 875803445008.

There’s been a number of individuals signing up post-deadline and, unfortunately, logistics prevented last minute additions after roughly 6:10 PM EST.

Big thanks go out to a handful of individuals who contributed a great deal to the drafting process.  It was fascinating to see how a quasi-crowd-sourced approach to something like this would work and it seems as though it was largely a success.

If you were unable to sign on in time, feel free to borrow/copy/steal anything you would like from the published materials, adopt the whole thing, or write your own (very quickly). Just remember everything is provided as-is, so use at your own risk. In theory you could still electronically file, deliver by hand, or spend a small fortune to same-day ship off your objection (if you want to play it safe). It is worth mentioning that the jury is still out as to whether or not materials arriving on May 31st will be considered due to Memorial Day falling on May 30th, so if you feel like taking a chance…

Any additional questions, comments or concerns can be sent on to barbrisettlementobjection@gmail.com.