I think this judge had the right idea… if the members of a class action settlement are expected to be happy with a card that they have to use at the store that screwed them over in the first place, then why not the lawyer?
Last year, Los Angeles County Judge Brett Klein was presented with a proposed class-action settlement in which the plaintiffs’ attorney would get $125,000, but class members would get only a $10 gift card, usable only at the store that allegedly violated the law in the first place. That is an example of the much-maligned “coupon settlement,” in which a defendant can end up profiting from breaking the law because a consumer must buy something from the defendant to redeem the coupon. These can sometimes be okay, but Judge Klein didn’t think this settlement was fair. A Gift for You! Another L.A. County judge, Susan Bryant-Deason, had tentatively approved the settlement, but she became ill and Klein ended up presiding over the fairness hearing. In a ruling that caught my eye when it came out last year, he ordered that the attorney also be paid in $10 gift cards, just like the people he represented. Under Klein’s order, Neil Fineman was to receive 12,500 gift cards that he could put toward the purchase of any merchandise he liked, as long as he liked the women’s clothing at Windsor Fashions.
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