- Final Approval granted.
- At the Fairness Hearing, the Court described Objector Haynes and his Counsel thus:
"They have an arrangement where they are supported by an organization that basically thinks class actions are a big mistake and that they can achieve at least some modest modicum of reform by suggesting at least some shortcomings of class actions in instances where they have standing to do so. And I don't regard that as improper. It's relevant to know where they're coming from. But if the objections have independent weight and force, the fact that they were raised for, if you will, ideological reasons is I think neither here nor there." (See Excerpts of Fairness Hearing Transcript at 55:13-22)
- The Court also described other objectors as:
"the so-called professional objectors, [who] are people who are seeking to extort monies on their own private behalf, not because they expect that their objections will receive any weight at the district court level but because they can delay the entire process, can delay the doing of justice, can delay the payment to victims of monies that in some cases they sorely need and that, in any event, they're entitled to for months or even years on end. (See Excerpts of Fairness Hearing Transcript at 55:24-56:6, emphasis added)
- The Court further noted that:
I have expressly retained jurisdiction in this case over the objectors even after I issue my final rulings on the matters before me today if I am convinced that some discovery is needed because of extortionate motivations on the part of any of those objectors. (See Excerpts at 56:7-11)
- Objector Bueno (through serially objecting attorney Joshua Furman) appealed the Final Approval.
- Class Counsel motioned for both sanctions and an appeal bond from Objector Bueno and Attorney Furman.
- The Court sanctioned Attorney Furman $10,000 and ordered Objector Bueno to post an appeal bond of $5,000.
- In determining the sanctions and appeal bond were warranted, the Court noted:
- In recent years, however, it has become obvious that some objectors seek to pervert the process by filing frivolous objections and appeals, not for the purpose of improving the settlement for the class, but of extorting personal payments in exchange for voluntarily dismissing their appeals. These extortionate efforts...have increasingly interfered with the prompt and fair resolution of class litigation at a direct cost to class members, who may thereby be prevented from collecting the settlement funds owed to them for months and even years unless they succumb to the blackmail. (See Order Granting Sanctions, page 2, emphasis added)
- The Court found that "The only likely motive for this misconduct [repeatedly misrepresenting facts and the law] is Furman's attempt to extort a payment from the Class Plaintiffs in order that they may avoid costly delay, in other words, extortion (See Order Granting Sanctions, page 16).
- Objector Bueno voluntarily dismissed his appeal, in exchange for Class Counsel waiving the $10,000 sanctions.
- Objector Haynes motioned for $199,400 in fees, arguing a net benefit to the class of $94.9 million as a result of his objection.
- This fee motion was opposed by Class Counsel.
- The Court granted Objector Haynes, and his Center for Class Action Fairness attorneys, fees of $11,731.65, noting that, while one of their arguments was successful in reducing Class Counsel's fee award, "a substantial reduction is appropriate as the vast majority of Objector's briefing concerned unsuccessful arguments" (see Order Granting Fees to Objector Haynes, page 7).
- Objector Haynes motioned for reconsideration, which was denied by the Court.
- Objector Haynes appealed the Court's findings regarding fees.