I’m not sure I would like being a lawyer – that whole – I can’t tell anyone where the bodies are buried – because if I did, I might go to jail and get disbarred thingy would make me nuts. I guess I’m not the kind of person who would be able to spout out case law in support of an argument that just didn’t seem right – no matter what the payoff was. Class action lawsuits – in my opinion – are riddled with this type dilemma.
In April, I wrote a letter objecting to a settlement offer involving a class action lawsuit against LensCrafters. See “Bizarre Class Action Lawsuit Settlement Offer”. The overall message of my letter was to convey the poor economics of the settlement and to explain why the offer created moral dilemma for the members of the settlement class(s).
Here’s a bit of helpful information. If you are a member of a settlement class, you can object to the settlement -or you can opt out of the class if you wish to pursue your own litigation. Usually, you will receive a letter or some other form of notification letting you know about your rights. The information I received told me that if I wanted to object to the settlement, I was to send the objection in writing by a certain date and to copy my objection to the court and to the attorneys.
Unfortunately, I don’t have any particular insight related to the procedures or laws applicable to class actions. My husband has a JD, so there might be people who believe that I have access to information that other non-lawyers don’t. But, because he doesn’t practice as an attorney, he practices as a CPA, he’s not accustomed to filing motions or objections. Darn! No special insight for me! But still, I wrote a letter anyway and then waited to see what would happen.
The instructions included with the notice of the action that I received in the mail, didn’t tell a class member what to include in the objection other than it must have a valid point and where to mail it. [this is an important point and I will address it later]. Nor did it tell a Class member what would happen once the objection was made.
Several weeks following the mailing of my letter, I received a large package from the law firm of Walkup, Medodia, Wecht & Schoenberger [attorneys for the plaintiffs – presumably my attorney – the attorney representing the customers who were allegedly harmed by the defendants].
Neat – how exciting… Maybe they wanted to thank me for my insight and discuss alternative settlement offers. Oh – or maybe the judge thought I made some good points….
Frankly, based on my ignorance’s, I truly believed that, at most, a law clerk might take the time to read my letter…just before it was filed in the trash…Wrong again. Objections do get read and they don’t go into the trash.
But if you believe that the attorneys did anything beyond defending their current positions – well, then you’re not living on this planet…..Because according to the attorneys, my argument was typical of someone without any legal knowledge, it had no merit, and…. it amounted to an unoriginal cliché about how class action lawyers get paid too much.
Gees…sorry about the legal ignorance……I guess those instructions should have been more specific…
So my attorney [in theory – since he is representing my settlement class], Walkup partner Matthew D. Davis(“Davis”) filed some paperwork with the courts– Lucky me – the big package I received was actually full of legal documents publically chastising my ignorance of the law and taking my words completely out of context –
Ah Ha…I get it – that’s why non-lawyers tend to stay out of lawyerly areas…. Stupid me!
Here is what the package contained:
1) A motion asking the court to approve the settlement and certify the class, award attorney fees, award the attorneys out of pocket expenses, and award the incentive awards. [so I guess the motion is to approve the settlement as it was originally stated – so much for my objection]
2) A memorandum in support of the motion to award attorneys fees and out of pocket expenses and incentive awards. –[this is just an argument telling the court why the judge should award fees.]
3) A memorandum of points and authorities in support of the motion- [this is the document that addresses the concerns of the objecting class members – all five of us]
4) A declaration by John Pillette [he is a consultant who worked on the case] in support of final approval – related to the motion. [This document talks about why Mr. Pillette is qualified to form conclusions about the case and why his opinion matters.]
5) A declaration by Davis in support of approval of award and fees [this document talks about why Davis is qualified to negotiate a settlement and argues for the awards.]
Stay tuned for my rebuttal of Davis’ Memorandum which shot down my objection – this will be good…..