Justia U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries

Stetson v. Grissom

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After the parties reached a settlement, the district court granted $585,000 in fees to Class Counsel, which reflected a reduction of requested fees of approximately 70 percent. It also reduced Class Counsel’s costs reimbursement to $20,588.17. The district court also found that Class Counsel inadequately supported its claim for expert fees, and denied Objectors' fee request in its entirety. Both Plaintiffs and Objectors appealed. The court held that, in a class action, an objector need not establish standing to object to an award of attorney’s fees by the district court; if an objector seeks to appeal an award of fees to class counsel, he must independently satisfy Article III standing; nevertheless, an objector has standing to appeal a denial of his own claim for fees; and, in this case, Objectors are not yet entitled to attorney's fees because the court vacated and remanded the district court's decision reducing Class Counsel's fees. The court concluded that the district court was well within its discretion to use the lodestar method to calculate fees. However, the district court abused its discretion by failing to specifically articulate its reasoning for such a large disparity between the requested fees and the reduction from Class Counsel's computed lodestar fee. Therefore, the court vacated the district court's order and remanded. On remand, the district court should (1) clearly provide reasons for the factors in its lodestar computation; (2) expressly consider both a risk multiplier and the Kerr v. Screen Extras Guild, Inc., factors; and (3) base its decision on facts supported by the record. View "Stetson v. Grissom" on Justia Law
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