Attorneys Christopher Bandas and C. Jeffrey Thut, along with Gary Stewart, have filed motions to dismiss the claims made by Edelson, P.C. in their on-going civil RICO case. The underlying case contends that the above group (also including Joseph Darrell Palmer) form an “objector enterprise”, the goal of which is to extort money from class action settlements. They do so by objecting to settlements and then holding out until mediation on appeals, where they can request payments to “go away.”
In December 2016, Jay Edelson brought a class action suit against Christopher Bandas (and others), alleging violations of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), the All Writs Act, and for Abuse of Process. To defend himself from these claims, Mr. Bandas retained the law firm of Freeborn & Peters, LLP. However, Mr. Bandas’ malpractice insurance provider, Landmark Insurance, balked at paying the price of defending him. Landmark alleges that Freeborn & Peters, LLP are charging an excessive rate for their services.
The Southern District of New York declined to order sua sponte sanctions on Attorney Christopher Bandas in a case involving Major League Baseball television practices, despite finding that "his behavior “has been unfitting for any member of the legal profession” (See Order Declining to Impose Sanctions, page 9). The actions in question involve Bandas’ failure to file an appearance on behalf of an objector he represents. The Court believes this was an attempt to avoid sanctions, but Bandas asserted that “he did not have time to ‘travel around the country and make appearances in every objection matter that I am involved in.’” (id, page 10, citation omitted).
In a force-placed insurance class action suit, Amirali and Janet Jabrani (who have teamed up with Christopher A. Bandas to object in five cases), class counsel deposed the Jabranis. Mr. Jabrani testified that he had also objected in two other force-placed insurance cases with Mr. Bandas (Fladell v. Wells Fargo and Hamilton v. Suntrust Mortgage). When pressed, Mr. Jabrani could not cite any improvements to those settlements beyond an increased payment to himself, which came directly from Mr. Bandas.
A class action suit filed in the Northern District of Illinois alleges a wide-ranging class action objection enterprise aimed at extorting money from class action settlements in exchange for dropping objections. Edelson P.C. alleges that Christopher Bandas (and his firm The Bandas Law Firm PC), Joseph Darrell Palmer (and his firm Darrell Palmer Law Office), C. Jeffrey Thut (and his firm Noonan, Perillo & Thut Ltd) and Gary Stewart conspired to object to class actions settlements (often using supposedly pro se clients) and attempted to extract confidential payments to dismiss those objections. Edelson P.C. claims that the Defendants threaten to delay payment of settlements for years, and that Class Counsels often find it necessary to make these payments to bring the cases to a resolution.
In a case that had implications for a nationwide class of sandwich purchasers, Subway was sued for their failure to properly ensure that their signature “Foot-Long” submarine sandwiches were actually a full 12 inches. Only one serial objector appeared, Ted Frank, who was represented by Adam Schulman, both of the Center for Class Action Fairness. At issue was the way an uncontested settlement amount of $525,000 was distributed amongst class counsel, class representatives, and the class. Given the weakness of the plaintiff’s claims, Defendants, Objector Frank, and the Court all agreed that a larger monetary settlement was unlikely. As laid out in the settlement and affirmed by the Court in the Final Approval, $520,000 was awarded to class counsel and $5,000 was distributed to the named plaintiffs. As this was an injunctive relief-only class, no funds were directed to class members.
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.
In April 2015, the National Football League reached a $1 billion settlement with retired players over the NFL’s handling of potential concussions. Over 5,000 former players suffering from brain-related illnesses like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s and their families would receive payment. On average, the settlement would pay out $190,000.
In Ohio, a massive multi-district case has been winding through the Court since December 2010. The plaintiffs allege that manufacturers of polyurethane foam products conspired to fix their prices, to the detriment of consumers. In November of 2014, the District Court preliminarily approved a settlement between two manufacturers and Direct Purchaser Plaintiffs. Only one objection was filed to this settlement, by serial objector Michael Narkin. His objection is almost identical to objections he has filed in other cases, with only minor details changed. Furthermore, he does not seem to actually be a member of the settlement class, since he purchased flooring from Costco, making him an Indirect Purchaser, not a Direct Purchaser.
This 2012 case regarding ACER’s claims to include complete Windows software in their personal computers is instructive of the kinds of delays that serial objectors can impose on settlements. Final Approval was granted on February 14, 2012 and the appeals were not fully resolved (by voluntary dismissal) until October 2, 2012. What makes this delay on the more impressive was that Serial Objectors Christopher Bandas and Joseph Darrell Palmer (working together with Palmer representing Bandas) were able to delay this long without ever filing an OPENING BRIEF.