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California: getting class proceeds to class members

S.B. 1202 in Sacramento, "authored by Senator Tom Harman (R-Huntington Beach), would allow judges to withhold part of the plaintiff's attorney's fees in class action lawsuits until all class members have been contacted and have received their portion of the settlement funds." Harman explains himself in this op-ed, saying class-action attorneys "routinely fail to identify and locate class members" in part because neither they nor defendants nor others involved in the case have any particular incentive to find those members.

Judges in Alameda County have been applying this practice [of holding a portion of fees in reserve] recently, and it seems to be working well. More class members than usual are being found and receiving their fair share of the settlement. The temporary delay in payment of attorney's fees presents only a modest hardship for the attorneys, particularly given the fact most awards of attorney's fees in class action cases tend to be quite large. The size of the attorney's fees for class action suits is such that waiting on a small portion to be paid at a future date is not that unbearable.

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Rafael Mangual
Project Manager,
Legal Policy

Manhattan Institute


Published by the Manhattan Institute

The Manhattan Insitute's Center for Legal Policy.