verdicts and settlements

Date of Settlement: Jan. 24.

Court and Case No.: U.S. District Court, E.D. Pa. No. 08-md-1912.

Judge: R. Barclay Surrick.

Type of Action: Antitrust.

Injuries: Financial losses.

Plaintiffs Counsel: Bernard Gross, Law Offices of Bernard M. Gross, Philadelphia; Joseph C. Kohn, Kohn, Swift & Graf, Philadelphia; Gerald J. Rodos, Barrack, Rodos & Bacine, Philadelphia; Gregory K. Arenson, Kaplan Fox & Kilsheimer, New York.

Defense Counsel: Peter E. Halle, Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, Washington D.C.; Jonathan K. Youngwood, Simpson Thacher & Bartlett, New York; Steven A. Reiss, Weil, Gotshal & Manges, New York.

Comment: Three major manufacturers of zippers, snaps, buttons and hooks have settled for $17.6 million with a class of thousands of plaintiffs in a multidistrict litigation case alleging price-fixing.

U.S. District Judge R. Barclay Surrick of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania granted final approval of the deal, including the $5.85 million in attorney fees requested by the lead counsel for the plaintiffs to come out of the settlement fund.

Coats is paying the largest share of the settlement with $9.85 million, YKK is paying the next largest share with $6.6 million, and the smallest share comes from Prym, which has been in a “precarious” financial situation, according to the opinion. It is paying $1.1 million.

“Class counsel represent that all three defendants agreed to pay a ‘substantial sum … in light of the attendant risks plaintiffs would face if this case proceeds to trial,’” Surrick said in his opinion weighing the nine factors from Girsh v. Jepson, the 1975 U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit decision setting out the criteria for settlement approval.

Before addressing the adequacy of the settlement agreement, Surrick considered the certification of the proposed class of plaintiffs, which includes thousands.

“Proceeding as a class action is the superior course not only because it will avoid unnecessarily wasting judicial resources, but also because it avoids the possibility of contradictory results,” Surrick said, finding that class certification is appropriate.

Following the preliminary approval of the settlement issued in October 2013, class counsel mailed out notice of the settlement to more than 32,000 potential class members as well as advertising in print and developing a website. None of the potential class members filed an objection to the settlement and the only class member to request exclusion was the American Soccer Co., according to the opinion.

“We find it striking that in a potential class this large, not one class member lodged an objection to the proposed settlements,” Surrick said.

— Saranac Hale Spencer, of the Law Weekly