A federal judge has refused to approve a class action settlement, saying that he could not sign off on the proposed attorney fee arrangement, which allowed lawyers to be paid before the class members.

U.S. District Judge William Pauley of the Southern District of New York denied preliminary approval of the proposed class settlement in Hart v. BHH LLC. Pauley made the ruling Jan. 17, but his eight-page opinion was not made public on the court’s website until Wednesday.

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