Ninth Circuit Finds Insufficient Basis for Large Attorney Fee Award

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In Jones v. GN Netcom Inc., 2011 DJDAR 12668 (2011), the U.S. Court of Appeal for the Ninth Circuit decided an issue that frequently arises in class action litigation. That issue relates to the often minimal benefits paid to class members while plaintiffs’ class counsel fees are often very high.

The case arose when numerous products liability class actions were fled against defendant Motorola Inc. The lawsuits alleged that Motorola purposefully failed to disclose the risk of hearing impairments caused by the use of Bluetooth headsets. The parties participated in mediation which resulted in a settlement. Motorola agreed to pay $100,000 in cy pres awards. The agreement also carved out up to $800,000 for fees to class counsel, and $12,000 for the class representative.

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