A California court of appeal excoriated a small plaintiffs’ law firm, Graham & Martin, over settlement terms in a toxic-warnings case and overturned the $540,000 settlement, calling the firm “bounty hunters” who set up “straw plaintiffs” as a means to collect legal fees.

“The plaintiffs are rewarded for shaking down the defendants for ubiquitous trivia” while provisions of the settlement seek to preclude future enforcement by the state attorney general, according to David Sills, presiding justice for the 4th District. Instead of $540,000, “this legal work merited an award closer to $1.98,” he said.

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