Source - Developments in Class Action Law

Class Action Decisions Published June 2023

Highlights from this issue include:

Rule 23(c)(4) Issues Class. The Tenth Circuit addressed as a matter of first impression what is required to satisfy Rule 23(c)(4). It held that “certification of an issue class under Rule 23(c)(4) is appropriate if the issue class itself satisfies the requirements of Rules 23(a) and 23(b).” This meant, specific to the case at hand, “when a class action is pursued under Rule 23(b)(3), the contemplated issue class must meet all the requirements of Rule 23(a) and the predominance and superiority requirements of Rule 23(b)(3).” The Tenth Circuit acknowledged it was joining the approach of the Second, Fourth, Sixth, Seventh and Ninth Circuits. This approach is slightly different than that of the Third Circuit and Fifth Circuits.

Attorneys’ Fees in Settlement. The Ninth Circuit vacated the legal fees awarded in a class action settlement in a case where copyright holders of musical compositions alleged their copyrights were violated by a digital streaming service. The class only received $52,841.05 based on claims submitted and no meaningful injunctive relief. The district court, however, authorized $1.7 million in legal fees—more than 30 times the amount the class received. The Ninth Circuit vacated and remanded, holding that “[t]he touchstone for determining the reasonableness of attorneys’ fees in a class action is the benefit to the class” and that the benefit to the class here was “meager.”

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