Friday, July 28, 2006

Lawyer Boni to Court: 'We Have Insufficient Data to Determine Whether the Cap Will Be Reached'

As reported here, the UnSettlement lawyers have admitted that they filed misleading briefs with the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, and are seeking to "correct" them. Specifically, the $10.76 million figure cited as the total of "prima facie valid claims" was low because this initial run-through counted as low-paying C claims a whole bunch of claims that will be shown to be A's and B's. If the claims number tops $11.8 million, the dreaded C Reduction is triggered.

One of the things we'd like to know now is whether the U.S. District Court of Judge George Daniels was similarly misled before he approved the settlement last year.

We also would like to know if the 11 writers who filed declarations in support of approval of the settlement were fully apprised at the time of the C Reduction possibility. If not, they were induced to submit sworn statements under false pretenses. These people have collective claims on the order of a quarter of a million dollars riding on whether there's a C Reduction. One of the declarants, Bart Mills, has asked lawyer A.J. De Bartolomeo to answer these very questions. As of the posting of this item, to the best of my knowledge, De Bartolomeo had not responded.

In the meantime I thought I'd share with blog readers the document by which the lawyers informed the Court of Appeals of the error of their ways. Michael J. Boni's July 7 letter ( raises obfuscation to an art form. He blames the whole thing on the claims administrator, which was only doing precisely what the settlement agreement's claims administration memorandum instructed it to do.

Buried in his dense text is another disturbing implication, which we'll explore in greater depth down the road. It is this: The named plaintiffs in this case -- from literary icon E.L. Doctorow all the way down to Paula "Pinocchio" McDonald -- stand to swallow up a grossly disproportionate share of the $11.8 million available for claims. Just how disproportionate that amount is, too, has surely been understated in early estimates, because many of their A and B claims, like everyone else's, went into the initial tally as C's.

Here are the email addresses of the architects of this crumbling edifice:

A.J. De Bartolomeo

Michael J. Boni

Gary Fergus

Diane S. Rice

Spencer Hosie


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