Do Any of You Out There Have Further Info on Claims Administration?
A number of class members have corresponded with me about their experiences with the claims administrator over disputed information. I’m now writing back to as many of them as I can. In addition, I’m inviting others out there to share their stories in this area. (I’ll keep our exchanges private unless we explicitly agree otherwise.)
One of the plaintiffs’ counsel, Diane Rice of Hosie McArthur, has asked the Second Circuit Court of Appeals to postpone from the week of November 20 until early December the oral argument on the objectors’ appeal of the approval of the class-action copyright settlement. The court had posted the week of November 20 as the anticipated window for the hearing.
Rice’s letter to the court strikes us as strange. First, another plaintiffs’ co-counsel, Michael Boni of Kohn, Swift, had already twice told the court that he would be making the oral argument, so it’s not clear why Rice’s presence is even necessary. Second, there was a procedure for all the lawyers to inform the court, well in advance, of expected “bad” dates, and it’s odd for Rice to be so casually seeking to juggle the announced schedule. Finally, Rice in her letter doesn’t even claim a direct date conflict; she just says she needs the hearing rescheduled because of the Thanksgiving holiday. Well, the week of November 20 is indeed Thanksgiving week, but there was obviously no chance that the appeals court would schedule arguments for Thanksgiving Day or the next day.
All in all, bizarre.
We – the objectors – can’t help wondering if there’s something behind this move. Could it be that the settlement parties are stalling for two weeks in order to gather more mature data on the state of the claims for some reason? Taking speculation a step further, could it be that the settlement parties are planning to tank the existing settlement, which is obviously in deep trouble on appeal, and announce some new unilateral improvement in an attempt to buy the releases of class members who want their claim awards, with or without court approval?
As all of you know, there’s currently a dispute over the parties’ illegal use in appellate briefs of information from outside the district court record – and, moreover, information that even the parties now admit was inaccurate. (We think it was more than inaccurate – it was deliberately misleading.) As you also know, in the midst of a parallel fiasco, the claims administrator extended the deadline for “corrected” claims to August 31. That deadline just expired.
It’s against this backdrop that we solicit further information from anyone out there who is motivated to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.