Serial Objector Sanctioned by Western District of Washington

Posted on 23 February 2016.

In 2010, a class action lawsuit was filed in the Western District of Washington, regarding the alleged throttling of Internet speed by Clearwire Corporation.  Objectors Gordon Morgan and Jeremy De La Garza, represented by Christopher Bandas, filed the only substantial objection to the settlement. 

Both Mr. Morgan and Mr. De La Garza were deposed as part of the discovery process.  Their depositions revealed that both men had wholly substituted Mr. Bandas’ judgment for their own; neither could articulate a specific reason for their objections, nor had either seen the objections they ostensibly submitted to the Court prior to the depositions.  The depositions are discussed at length in the Plaintiff’s Declaration Regarding Depositions of Objectors.

After having their objections overruled by the District Court, Messrs. Gordon and De La Garza appealed to the Ninth Circuit.  Class Counsel motioned for and received an appeal bond of $41,150 ($39, 150 for increased settlement administration costs and $2,000 in filing and copying fees).  Class Counsel also motioned for summary affirmance from the Ninth Circuit, which was granted.  The Circuit found that “the questions raised in this appeal are so insubstantial as not to require further argument.”  The Objector-Appellants petitioned for rehearing but instead of posting the appeal bond, they withdrew their appeal.

However, the saga of this appeal was only beginning.  On the same day that the mandate to dismiss their appeal was issued, the Objectors filed a second appeal to the Circuit, protesting the awarding of attorneys’ fees.  Frustrated with what it felt was an attempt to circumvent the appeal bond, the District Court extended the full amount to the second appeal of Messrs. Gordon and De La Garza.

Mr. Bandas posted the $41,150 appeal bond a full nine days after the Court-mandated deadline.  He felt that he was following a precedent established in Azizian v. Federated Department Stores, 03-cv-03359, which the District Court felt was a “flawed interpretation.”  He also claimed that a camping vacation by his bookkeeper prevented him from timely posting the bond.  Instead, the Western District of Washington found that this was sanctionable conduct, “revok[ing] Mr. Bandas’ permission to practice pro hac vice in the Western District of Washington.” 

Following the conclusion of the sanctions proceedings, the Morgan and De La Garza appeal was dismissed by joint stipulation and the appeal bond returned.