Greenmail, Claims Data? Class Proposals Open for Comment

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By Perry Cooper

Aug. 12 — Do you care about so-called greenmail payments to professional class settlement objectors who sell their appeals?

What about a nudge to judges to ask for more claim filing data before approving claims-made class settlements?

The comment period for changes to the federal rule governing class actions is now open.

The Judicial Conference Committee on Rules of Practice and Procedure has been considering changes to Fed. R. Civ. P. 23 for over a year.

It released a preliminary draft of its proposed amendments to the rule Aug. 12.

The changes are far less ambitious than some the committee originally considered (16 CLASS 516, 5/8/15).

One of the most significant would require any side payments to class settlement objectors to be approved by the district court. This is an effort to curb the power objectors hold over the class settlement process (17 CLASS 699, 7/8/16).

Another proposal codifies the criteria judges should consider when approving class settlements.

In the notes to the amendments, the committee suggests that judges may ask for parties to report on the actual claims experience prior to approving claims-made settlements.

A group of professors has been pushing for increased claims rate data for decades (17 CLASS 257, 3/11/16).

The amendments also recognize the realities of the 21st Century by explicitly allowing the use of e-mail notice to reach class members.

The committee will hold public hearings on the amendments in Washington Nov. 3, Phoenix Jan. 4 and Dallas Feb. 16.

Comments on the proposals are due Feb. 15 and can be submitted at

After the comment period, the changes will go on to the judicial conference and then the U.S. Supreme Court. Congress has an override.

If approved, the proposed amendments would become effective Dec. 1, 2018.

To contact the reporter on this story: Perry Cooper in Washington at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Steven Patrick at

For More Information

The proposed amendments are at

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