Gemelas v. The Dannon Company, Inc

Case # 08-cv-00236
Case Name Gemelas v. The Dannon Company, Inc
Jurisdiction US District Court for N.D. OH
Summary

Dannon marketed its yogurt products as having been "clinically proven" to confer health benefits that other brands do not. They claimed that this was due to proprietary strains of bacteria contained therein. However, there was no scientific or clinical evidence that Dannon yogurts provided any benefit beyond any other brand. Plaintiffs allege that this marketing was in violation of the Consumer Sales Practice Act, the Deceptive Trade Practices Act, as well as a breach of express warranty (Complaint, paragraph 10). This misleading marketing allowed Dannon to enrich itself at the expense of consumers. 

Final Approval Date 06/24/2010
Result
  1. Final Approval granted.
  2. The Court awarded the Full Fee request, but held $3 million in abeyance until the claims process ended.
  3. The Siegel collective objectors filed a motion for attorneys' fees, based on $9 million in supposed benefit to the class. They motioned for $97,983.75 in fees, based on a 1.5 multiplier on their lodestar.
  4. Objector Wilson, Objector Padgett, and the Siegel Objectors appealed the Final Approval.
  5. Class Counsel motioned for, and was granted, an Appeal Bond in the amount of $275,000.
  6. Objectors and the Parties ultimately reached an agreement where they would receive a payoff in exchange for dropping their appeals and their request for attorneys' fees. Strangely, this payoff also included payments to Paul S. Rothstein and N. Albert Bacharach, Serial Objectors who did not have a client or an appearance in this case (See Agreed Order to Pay Objectors).
Dismissal of Last Appeal 10/12/2010
Attachments Docket Report.pdf
Amended Complaint.pdf
Preliminary Approval Order.pdf
Plaintiff's Response to Objections.pdf
Defendant's Response to Objections.pdf
Fairness Hearing Transcript.pdf
Final Approval Order.pdf
Joint Motion for Attorneys' Fees for Objectors.pdf
Plaintiff's Response to Objector Attorneys' Fees.pdf
Defendant's Response to Objector Attorneys' Fees.pdf
Joint Reply to Responses to Objector Attorneys' Fees.pdf
Motion for Appeal Bond.pdf
Blood Declaration in Support of Motion for Appeal Bond.pdf
Order Granting Appeal Bond and Approving Discovery of Objectors.pdf
Agreed Order to Pay Objectors.pdf
Withdrawal of Motion for Fees for Objectors.pdf
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Objection of Clyde Farrel Padgett

Objectors Clyde Farrel Padgett
Signers Clyde Farrel Padgett
Attorneys
Summary
  1. Relief is illusory, since it does not confer any benefit beyond what Dannon was already doing.
  2. Dannon is only required to change its marketing for 3 years.
  3. Attorneys' fees are excessive.
  4. Class representative awards are excessive and unwarranted.
  5. Settlement does not contain sufficient deterrence.

Objector Padgett failed to appear for a settlement conference before the Court.

Class Counsel motioned for an Appeal Bond and Objector Padgett contested his ability to pay. The Court granted Class Counsel's motion to perform discovery on Objector Padgett. A deposition of Objector Padgett was arranged at Houston International Airport. Instead of having his deposition taken and moving forward with his appeal, Objector Padgett accepted a check for $5,000 (see Declaration of John R. Climaco, paragraph 10).

Attachments Objection of Clyde Farrel Padgett.pdf
Appeal of Padgett Objector.pdf
Motion to Show Cause to Wilson and Padgett Objectors.pdf
Padgett Response to Appeal Bond.pdf
Reply to Padgett Response to Appeal Bond.pdf
Dismissal of Padgett Appeal.pdf
Declaration of John R. Climaco (Including Padgett Payoff).pdf
Padgett Appeal Docket.pdf
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Objection of James Wilson

Objectors James Wilson
Signers Charles H. Cooper, Jr.
Attorneys Charles H. Cooper, Jr.
Summary
  1. Attorneys' fees are excessive and should not be calculated until after the actual value to the class is known.

NOTE: Objector Wilson believes the settlement should be approved but that the attorneys' fees should be not more than 10% of the actual value conferred on the class.

Attachments Objection of James Wilson.pdf
Appeal of Wilson Objector.pdf
Motion to Show Cause to Wilson and Padgett Objectors.pdf
Dismissal of Wilson Appeal.pdf
Wilson Appeal Docket.pdf
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Objection of Denise Fairbank

Objectors Denise Fairbank
Signers Edward F. Siegel
Attorneys Edward F. Siegel
Kenneth E. Nelson
Summary
  1. Claims process is designed to minimize relief.
  2. Attorneys' fees are excessive and should not be calculated until actual relief is known.
  3. A portion of attorneys' fees should be held in abeyance to ensure adequate oversight of the claims process.
Attachments Objection of Denise Fairbank.pdf
Nelson Appearance for Objector Fairbank.pdf
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Objection of Steven P. Cope

Objectors Steven P. Cope
Signers Edward F. Siegel
Attorneys Edward F. Siegel
Joseph Darrell Palmer
Summary
  1. Cy pres awards provide no benefit to the class.
  2. Would be more proper to direct cy pres awards to consumer protection groups, rather than feeding the poor.
  3. Cy pres awards are improperly valued.
  4. Attorneys' fees are excessive.
Attachments Objection of Steven P. Cope.pdf
Palmer Appearance for Objector Cope.pdf
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Objection of Robert Falkner, Wanda J. Cochran, Grace M. Cannata, Danette Loeffler, Michelle Ritchey, William (Buck) Price, Brad Henry, Sheila Lodwick

Objectors Robert Falkner
Wanda J. Cochran
Grace M. Cannata
Danette Loeffler
Michelle Ritchey
William (Buck) Price
Brad Henry
Sheila Lodwick
Signers Edward F. Siegel
Attorneys Edward F. Siegel
Edward W. Cochran
Sam P. Cannata
Francis E. Sweeney, Jr.
Summary
  1. Settlement fund is improperly valued.
  2. Attorneys' fees are excessive and should be tied to actual recovery by the class.
  3. Injunctive relief is inadequate and only benefits future purchasers of the product.
  4. Claims process will depress the amount actually recovered by the class.
  5. Cy pres awards should be made in cash, not product.
  6. Cy pres award is improperly valued.
Attachments Objection of Robert Falkner et al.pdf
Appeal of Falkner et al Objectors.pdf
Dismissal of Falkner et al Appeals.pdf
Falkner et al Appeal Docket.pdf
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