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Walter v. Hughes Communications

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A class action brought on behalf of California consumers alleging inferior speeds of Hughes Internet service and unfair charges of early termination fees. As most class actions do, this case has settled. Though the parties know who the class members are, there's a burdensome claims process instead of simply writing checks to class members: the parties mail a postcard to class members, the class members enter a claims number from the postcard into a website, and then fill out a claim form. So we have a settlement designed to benefit the attorneys while the defendant gets off cheap: even if 10% of the class makes claims, the attorneys' $630,000 fee will outstrip the class relief. And it's doubtful that 10% of the class will make claims. Ironically, the court had refused to approve an earlier iteration of the settlement, correctly viewing with skepticism an implausible valuation of the injunctive relief. it's hard to see how this settlement is much better.

The settlement class is "All persons and entities residing in the United States of America who, during any time between May 15, 2005 and March 2, 2012, were subscribers to any one of the one of the following satellite broadband internet service plans offered by Hughes: Hughes Home, Pro, Pro Plus, Small Office, Business Internet, Elite, ElitePlus, ElitePremium, Basic, Power 150, or Power 200 (together "Hughes Consumer Service Plans")." (Why do attorneys bringing a class action on behalf of California consumers get to settle on behalf of a national class? You tell me.) The case number is 09-cv-2136 SC (N.D. Cal.).

1 Comment

During the time period mentioned, I had two types of accounts with Hughes. One was a purchased equipment contract. The other, rented. Yesterday, 3 April, 2013, I received two checks for these accounts. I think I will move to Europe on me share. Each check was for the amount of $5.00! That's right, 5 bucks. And the attorneys got...?

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Isaac Gorodetski
Project Manager,
Center for Legal Policy at the
Manhattan Institute
igorodetski@manhattan-institute.org

Katherine Lazarski
Press Officer,
Manhattan Institute
klazarski@manhattan-institute.org

 

Published by the Manhattan Institute

The Manhattan Insitute's Center for Legal Policy.