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Second Circuit "punts" in Blessing v. Sirius

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The Second Circuit upheld the settlement approval in Blessing v. Sirius XM in a non-precedential ruling Thursday. The Second Circuit refused to analyze the objections on appeal, holding that the perfunctory and conclusory statement of the district court that it had "considered the[] oral and written submissions" of the objectors was enough to survive abuse-of-discretion review. This contradicts the Ninth Circuit, which requires a "reasoned response" to objections; how do we know whether the district court abused its discretion when there is nothing in the record explaining why it rejected particular objections? The Court also bootstraps reasoning why it need not consider whether the district court erred in failing to apply CAFA standards to the settlement, contradicting the Seventh Circuit.

On top of signing off of a settlement that literally made class members worse off (my client would have overpaid Sirius by $200 if he had accepted the coupon relief instead of better offers available to class members), the Second Circuit refused to address whether Judge Baer's demand of particular racial composition of class counsel was illegal, holding the lack of proof of injury ended the inquiry. This contradicts the Supreme Court's holding that racial bias in court proceedings is per se injury, and we will seek further review. [Reuters via Bashman]

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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

 

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