Results matching “Bachman”

I'm not a Missouri lawyer, but I'm quoted in a Missouri Lawyers Media story on class action settlements, though not given a chance to rebut the ludicrous claim of the plaintiffs' lawyer that the objection to the rip-off Bachman v. A.G Edwards "proceeds from a false premise." Even the sloppy Missouri Court of Appeal decision found that the "vouchers" were "coupons"; they just refused to address the failure of the Missouri lower court to follow the law and value the coupons at something other than face value. Literally refused: it acknowledged that we had made the argument, and then did not rule on it or give any reason for rejecting it.

The Missouri Supreme Court today let stand an appellate court ruling that affirmed a $21 million fee award to Milberg and other class-action attorneys in a coupon settlement, without ever addressing the Center for Class Action Fairness's argument about the appropriate legal means for valuing coupons. I'm appalled, but thankfully, the Class Action Fairness Act will keep most future out-of-state class members from being ripped off by self-serving attorneys operating in Missouri state courts. Earlier.

You will recall that the Missouri appellate court in Bachman v. AG Edwards affirmed the approval of a coupon settlement without addressing CCAF's legal argument about the valuation of coupons. Under Missouri procedure, the next step is a motion for reconsideration/motion for transfer, and that's what we filed June 15.

The Center for Class Action Fairness is not affiliated with the Manhattan Institute.

Daniel Fisher at Forbes beats me to it, but the intermediate appellate court signed off on a settlement that awarded $21 million to the attorneys (including Milberg Weiss) but only $5 million in cash and $34 million in face-value of coupons to the class. The court ruled that the settlement approval was not an abuse of discretion, because a 35% fee was within the court's discretion.

Wait a second, readers who have paid attention to this case might ask: the Center for Class Action Fairness argued that the trial court committed an error of law: Missouri class action law follows federal class action law, federal law holds that you cannot value coupons at face value, and it's only by valuing the coupons at face value that you get to 35%—otherwise, the fee is more like 70 or 80 percent of the total value of the settlement, which is plainly unfair and unreasonable. Remarkably, the court mentioned that we made that argument, but didn't address it.

The good news is that the appellate court denied a motion to dismiss the appeal and held that Missouri courts would follow the federal precedent of Devlin v. Scardelletti. Objectors in Missouri now have the right to appeal approvals of class action settlements there; before, an objector would have to move to intervene before having the right to appeal, raising the cost of objecting to a settlement, and giving the trial-court judge a means to prevent appeals of bad rulings.

Milberg and several other law firms collected $21 million in quick-pay fees for a Missouri state-court class action settlement that provided face value of $39 million to the class, most of which was in $8.22 coupons. The Center for Class Action Fairness appealed the rubber-stamp approval, and, on Friday, filed a reply brief in the case. Oral argument is set for May 4 in St. Louis.

A "fountain of fees" - PointOfLaw Forum

At Forbes.com, Daniel Fisher discusses the Center for Class Action Fairness's appeal of a rubber-stamp approval of a $21-million fee award for a coupon class action settlement in litigation against A.G. Edwards. The trial-court judge, Angela Quigless, who signed off on the windfall for the former Milberg Weiss, is frequently mentioned as a possible candidate for the federal bench in St. Louis. Earlier.

Update: more from Allison Frankel.

Mark Lanier flip-flop on "Stossel"? - PointOfLaw Forum

The odd thing about Mark Lanier endorsing "loser pays" on "Stossel" is that he took the opposite position when the Wall Street Journal covered Marie Gryphon's paper last year.

Links related to yesterday's program (which Fox Business News is rerunning all weekend):

"The End of Objector Blackmail?" - PointOfLaw Forum

Professor Brian Fitzpatrick has an interesting piece in the Vanderbilt Law Review on the holdout problem in class action objections, and efforts by plaintiffs' attorneys to get around it:

"Oddly enough, I admired one of the lawyers." - PointOfLaw Forum

Bill McClellan of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch writes about the Bachman v. A.G. Edwards case and settlement:

The case against Jones was murky. The payments from the mutual fund companies were not illegal. In fact, news accounts at the time said they were common, and were called revenue sharing. But the feds decided that Jones had not disclosed to its customers that brokers were getting extra money for steering clients into certain funds.

The feds did not make that allegation against A.G. Edwards, but the class-action lawyers figured that if this so-called revenue sharing was common, A.G. Edwards must be doing it, and so the lawyers went ahead and filed their lawsuit in April 2005 contending that Edwards was guilty of whatever it was that Jones had done.

As is typical in these cases, the defendant company denied all wrongdoing but eventually decided it was cheaper to pay off the lawyers than to wage a long legal battle. So A.G. Edwards rolled over, and the class-action lawyers negotiated a settlement in which their "clients" would get coupons while they themselves would get cash -- and bundles of it.

Update: Dan Fisher of Forbes comments here.

Bachman v. A.G. Edwards update - PointOfLaw Forum

You may recall the $60 million settlement that wasn't to which CCAF objected. Judge Angela T. Quigless approved the settlement and approved the $21.6 million award of attorneys' fees and costs without addressing any of the objections.

And if you ever hear a class action attorney tell you that what they really care about is "access to justice," you have my permission to laugh sardonically. The Bachman attorneys (including Milberg LLP) have asked the court to require any objector-appellants (each of whom have about $20 at stake) to post a $325,000 appeal bond—despite the fact that Missouri law does not permit such a thing. CCAF filed an opposition to the request (citing Professor Fitzpatrick's recent article disapproving of excessive appeal bonds), and I was in St. Louis yesterday to argue at the hearing. We will see whether CCAF gets to appeal the judgment or has to appeal an illegal appeal bond order.

(CCAF is not affiliated with the Manhattan Institute.)

Bachmann v. A.G. Edwards, Inc. - PointOfLaw Forum

The attorneys in the case of Bachmann v. A.G. Edwards, Inc. negotiated what they call a $60 million settlement. Which sounds good, until you actually look at the settlement:

  • The attorneys are asking for $21 million of the $60 million, or 35%;
  • 35% is actually an underestimate, because $34 million of the $60 million consist of $8.22 coupons, issued in sets of three to be used once a year to pay for mutual fund fees--assuming that the class members remember to use an $8.22 coupon in 2012;
  • the attorneys' fees get paid immediately, while the class does not get paid until ninety days after all appeals are resolved;
  • and even if the court reduces the attorneys' fees, the reduction goes to a charity run by A.G. Edwards's successor, Wells Fargo, rather than to the class.

In reality, the class is getting more like $8 million, and the attorneys will be getting more than twice that. This settlement is similar to a settlement against Edward D. Jones of a couple of years ago negotiated by a similar group of attorneys; I asked a co-lead counsel who was involved in both cases for evidence of the redemption rate of the Edward D. Jones coupons. Needless to say, he refused to provide a response.

The Center for Class Action Fairness filed an objection on behalf of a class member who was justifiably appalled by the settlement. And I see many others are unhappy as well. The AG Edwards Settlement Fairness Hearing will be held today at 9:30 a.m., central time at the St. Louis City Circuit Court, Civil Courts Building, 10 North Tucker Boulevard, St. Louis, MO 63101-2044.

(CCAF's litigation is entirely separate from the Manhattan Institute.)

Dann rebuked in foreclosure activism - PointOfLaw Forum

Ohio Attorney General Marc Dann grabbed headlines when he announced a initiative to throw sand in the legal gears of the foreclosure process. On Monday, however, "Common Pleas Court Magistrate Michael Bachman rejected Dann's argument. He further said Dann was acting against the interests of his clients -- the taxpayers of Ohio -- by moving to dismiss foreclosure cases in which the state has liens against the properties."

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