In a decision evaluating a coupon settlement under provisions of the Class Action Fairness Act of 2005, U.S. District Judge Cecilia M. Altonaga of the Southern District of Florida declined to give final approval to the parties’ Third Amended Settlement Agreement. See Figueroa v. Sharper Image Corp., 2007 WL 2979285 (S.D. Fla. Oct. 11, 2007). In a lengthy opinion, Altonaga emphasized the congressional intent that coupon settlements post-CAFA be subjected to heightened judicial scrutiny.
The Figueroa decision also reflects the powerful role that objectors play in final approval of class action settlements in a post-CAFA world. Of particular note, 35 state attorneys general and several individual objectors repeatedly challenged the settlement agreements. The objectors’ persistence, and the substance of their criticisms, convinced Altonaga that the Figueroa settlement did not satisfy standards for final settlement approval.
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