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Kabateck Brown Kellner and a figurehead plaintiff?

Class action attorney Bill Lerach once boasted "I have the greatest practice in the world. I have no clients." Technically, that's not supposed to happen: the lead plaintiff in the class action is supposed to be overseeing the case, and FRCP 23(a)(4) requires the lead plaintiff to be an adequate representative of the class. But very often, the class action plaintiff is just a figurehead: see, e.g., OL July 2008, OL May 2007, and numerous other examples.

In the pending case of In re HP Laser Printer Litigation (a C.D. Cal. case related to the Inkjet printer case I mentioned yesterday), we see an extraordinary allegation of this. One of the two lead plaintiffs, James C. Young—whose signature appears on the coupon settlement—has filed an objection to his own class action settlement, claiming that his lawyers, Kabateck Brown Kellner never told him that he was the lead plaintiff or what precisely he was signing. (Practice tip: this is why defense counsel should always depose the proposed lead plaintiff.)

KBK has filed papers with their own side of the story, though it's far from clear to me why they think they can file ex parte to get a deposition, or why Mr. Vlastone's testimony would save their class action.

Disclaimers: As Mr. Young mentions in his objection, the Center for Class Action Fairness (which is not affiliated with the Manhattan Institute) has a pending objection in this litigation; our objection is based on basic legal principles regarding coupon settlements, rather than any of Mr. Young's allegations. Mr. Young has also repeatedly attempted to contact me to ask me to represent him in the litigation; because the court has appointed Mr. Young lead plaintiff of the class and appointed counsel for the class, I am avoiding any return contact with Mr. Young to avoid any question of ethical impropriety; I am also in no position to represent the entire class against HP. I hope some lawyer out there offers to represent this whistleblower.

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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.