X

Thank you for sharing!

Your article was successfully shared with the contacts you provided.
It’s well documented that a lot of judges happen to be amateur magicians. Here’s how two of them made $15 million disappear. Last week, U.S. District Judge Robert Gettleman gutted much of a consumer privacy suit following its transfer to Chicago via the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation — even though a proposed settlement had already been before a San Francisco federal judge. The credit reporting agency Trans Union LLP was sued for selling information about consumers in violation of the Fair Credit Reporting Act, and a few years ago the parties walked into U.S. District Judge William Alsup’s courtroom with a $15 million settlement in hand. But amid objections that it was a low-ball deal — the proposed class was essentially all credit consumers — Alsup suggested the attorneys try again. According to plaintiffs’ attorney Matthew Righetti, by that time other plaintiffs’ attorneys had gotten wind of the suit and began filing cases in other districts. That sent the case to the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation, and the cases were consolidated in Chicago. There, attorneys for the defense put something different in front of Gettleman — a motion to dismiss. For the most part, the tactic was successful. On Sept. 10, Gettleman struck a significant portion of the case. Righetti of Righetti & Wynne said he didn’t blame Alsup for delaying approval. “I hate to get into the blame game. I think it’s just an education in how district judges can see things radically differently,” said Righetti, who may appeal the decision to the Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals. Trans Union attorney Roger Longtin, a partner at Piper Rudnick in Chicago, stressed that Alsup and Gettleman were dealing with two entirely different situations. He also said Alsup himself had mused that there may be problems with some of the claims. It’s not necessarily true that Gettleman thought little of the plaintiffs’ case. After all, the Federal Trade Commission has already litigated a case against Trans Union all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court on precisely the same issue. Instead, he based part of his decision on the fact that the potential damages against Trans Union could be catastrophic — a minimum $100 per violation multiplied by each member of a class comprised of mostly credit users — while the harm to consumers (not to mention their slice of any settlement) was relatively small. That move was regrettable for Righetti, who said he would have liked “something between nothing for the class and annihilating Trans Union. � We’re certainly not interested in annihilating Trans Union.” Longtin forcefully stressed that Gettleman and Alsup were looking at two different things, saying he didn’t think Gettleman did anything Alsup wouldn’t have done. Both judges were appointed by former President Bill Clinton. Longtin declined to say why Alsup was greeted by a proposed settlement while Gettleman got a motion to dismiss. “I’m not going to discuss settlement negotiations and whether they were fruitful or not,” he said. Nor was it his choice to go through the multidistrict litigation panel. That, he said, came from the plaintiffs’ side. He did say the defense suggested the case be heard in either San Francisco or Chicago, where it eventually landed. A case against Trans Union is proceeding in state court on behalf of California consumers.

This content has been archived. It is available through our partners, LexisNexis® and Bloomberg Law.

To view this content, please continue to their sites.

Not a Lexis Advance® Subscriber?
Subscribe Now

Not a Bloomberg Law Subscriber?
Subscribe Now

Why am I seeing this?

LexisNexis® and Bloomberg Law are third party online distributors of the broad collection of current and archived versions of ALM's legal news publications. LexisNexis® and Bloomberg Law customers are able to access and use ALM's content, including content from the National Law Journal, The American Lawyer, Legaltech News, The New York Law Journal, and Corporate Counsel, as well as other sources of legal information.

For questions call 1-877-256-2472 or contact us at [email protected]

 
 

ALM Legal Publication Newsletters

Sign Up Today and Never Miss Another Story.

As part of your digital membership, you can sign up for an unlimited number of a wide range of complimentary newsletters. Visit your My Account page to make your selections. Get the timely legal news and critical analysis you cannot afford to miss. Tailored just for you. In your inbox. Every day.

Copyright © 2021 ALM Media Properties, LLC. All Rights Reserved.