Logitech, Consumers Ask 9th Cir. to Let Them Settle False Ad Suit

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By Perry Cooper

Logitech Inc. and consumers want to settle class action claims over alleged false advertising of computer speakers. But a lower court judge very experienced in such suits won’t let them do it anytime soon.

The speaker maker asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit Oct. 9 to overrule Judge William Alsup’s general prohibition on engaging in detailed settlement negotiations in class cases before the two sides have conducted discovery and the court has ruled on class status.

Alsup’s standing order applies to every class action he oversees. It is aimed at weeding out collusive class settlements that give class counsel high attorneys’ fees and the defendants global peace at the expense of absent class members.

He sits on the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, where many consumer class actions in the U.S. are filed.

The judge’s policy isn’t new—it’s been around since at least 2011 when defense attorney Andrew Trask, now at Shook, Hardy and Bacon in San Francisco, praised the order in a blog post. The order also gives parties guidance on other aspects of settlements to give both sides of class litigation predictability in how class claims are handled in Alsup’s court.

But now Logitech argues the hold on settlement talks unduly delays the litigation against them and infringes on their free speech rights.

“Both parties to this false-advertising class action agree that it should be settled, and settled now,” the company’s appeals court filing said.

The order infringes on the parties’ First Amendment rights to communicate with each other and seek relief from the court, Logitech argues.

It also runs afoul of well-established judicial policy of generally favoring class action settlements, it says.

The suit alleges Logitech’s Z200 computer speaker system is falsely advertised as having more high quality components than it actually has.

Edelson P.C. represents the consumers.

Mayer Brown LLP represents Logitech.

The case is In re Logitech Inc., 9th Cir., No. 18-72732, petition for mandamus 10/9/18.

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