The Recorder interviewed Shook Of Counsel Andrew Trask in its coverage of the new procedural guidance for class action settlements in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, “New Class Action Guidelines in Northern District of California Prompt Commendation and Concerns,” November 7, 2018 [Subscription Required].
According to The Recorder, law professors and defense attorneys mostly praise the new guidelines, which not only mimic proposed changes to Rule 23 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure but create significant transparency in settlement accounting.
The guidance, announced November 1, 2018, may be some of the most detailed in the nation. Among other recommendations, the guidance asks lawyers to “provide billing calculations in class counsel’s fee request, identify the process used to select the settlement administrator and disclose relationships between the parties and cy pres recipients.” In addition, lawyers will now have to post on the settlement website information about notices sent to class members, claim forms submitted, opt-outs, objections and amounts paid to class members, as well as methods of notice and payment.
Trask, who has co-authored several books on class actions, told The Recorder, “It’s very hard to determine whether class settlements are doing what they’re supposed to be doing if you don’t know where the money goes and where it winds up, and you don’t know how much of the class gets paid . . . To the degree we continue to have debates over what class certification ought to be and what class settlement ought to look like, having that information publicly available is better than not having it.”