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Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Lafitte v. Robert Half International: Cal. Supreme Court Grants Review in Class Action Attorney Fee Dispute

I wanted to note this case, which is pending in the California Supreme Court. In Lafitte v. Robert Half International, Inc. (2014) 231 Cal.App.4th 860, a class member objected to a class settlement of $19 million and the award of $6.3 million in fees to class counsel. Among other things, he objected that the class notice required class members to object before counsel filed their attorney fee motion, the notice stated that class members would not be responsible for counsel's fees when the fees were being deducted from the settlement fund, the settlement agreement's "clear sailing" provision on fees was collusive, and the court improperly calculated fees as a percentage of the settlement fund, with a lodestar cross-check. The trial court overruled the objections and approved the settlement. The objector appealed, and the Court of Appeal affirmed.

The Supreme Court granted review last year, and the Court's web site states the issues on appeal as follows: 
Does Serrano v. Priest (1977) 20 Cal.3d 25 permit a trial court to anchor its calculation of a reasonable attorney's fees award in a class action on a percentage of the common fund recovered?
Lafitte is Case No. S222996, and the Court's web site for it is here. You can sign up for automatic email updates on the case here

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