Bloomberg Law’s combination of innovative analytics, research tools and practical guidance provides you with everything you need to be a successful litigator.
Aug. 4 — A federal judge continues to have serious concerns that not nearly enough owners of a popular type of Remington rifle that is prone to accidental discharge will receive notice that they are eligible for a fix through a class settlement ( Pollard v. Remington Arms Co., W.D. Mo., No. 4:13-cv-00086, hearing 8/2/16 ).
A plan to notify the 7.5 million gun owners about the class-action settlement to replace the trigger mechanisms in their Model 700 and other rifles is likely to proceed for now, a lawyer who has represented gun owners and was present at an August 2 hearing on the deal told Bloomberg BNA.
But Judge Ortrie D. Smith of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri, who's overseeing the case, isn't granting final approval yet.
Smith put the brakes on approval in December 2015 because only 2,327 claim forms had been submitted (16 CLASS 1331, 12/11/15).
He held a hearing August 2 to discuss the notice issues and the revised notice plan that the parties proposed.
A prominent expert on class notice submitted an unusual friend-of-the-court letter July 29, only a few days before the hearing, “to alert the Court to the hidden defects that explain the original notice and claims process failure.”
The expert, Todd Hilsee, who has advised the Federal Judicial Center on class action notice, also took issue with the revised plan. The proposal “will reach as few Class members as the first campaign did,” he wrote to the court.
Hilsee took the extraordinary step of writing to the court because of the potential for injuries and deaths in the case, he said.
But the issue goes beyond this case, he argued. Problems in the notice industry “have propelled a race to the bottom in class notice effectiveness,” he said.
Attorneys for the parties didn't respond to requests for comment.
Signal Interactive Media LLC, the notice-services firm that designed the plan, according to a brief submitted by the parties, spoke to Bloomberg BNA but wasn't able to provide an official comment in time for deadline.
“Exactly what's going to happen, we don't know,” the attorney who spoke to Bloomberg BNA about the hearing said.
“The judge seemed inclined to let them go forward with the notice plan and see how many claims it generates,” he said. “He's hoping it generates enough claims for him to approve the settlement.”
Hilsee's assessment of why the original notice plan “failed” touched on many areas. Internet banners were less effective than promised, he said, even pointing to new reports that many advertising “impressions” aren't viewed by humans. Magazine advertisements didn't attract attention, he said.
Individual notice generates the most responses but wasn't used, he said. Class counsel didn't make use of the press in a newsworthy case, he said. Even the claims process presented a problem, mimicking the kind of registration gun owners resist, he said.
Local gun dealers should be involved in the repair process, he said.
The problems aren't restricted to this case, he said. “There is a lack of incentive for truly good notice among class action settling parties,” he wrote. He pointed to defense interests in lowering costs by generating fewer claims and in reducing bad publicity, and to class counsel's interests in getting the defendant to settle, avoiding the costs of trial and notice when the case isn't settled.
The court should “solicit sealed notice proposals directly from notice professionals trained in mass media for class actions and deeply experienced in the most important cases,” he said.
To contact the reporter on this story: Martina S. Barash in Washington at firstname.lastname@example.org
The expert's letter is available at http://www.bloomberglaw.com/public/document/Pollard_v_Remington_Arms_Company_LLC_et_al_Docket_No_413cv00086_W/5.
Copyright © 2016 The Bureau of National Affairs, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
All Bloomberg BNA treatises are available on standing order, which ensures you will always receive the most current edition of the book or supplement of the title you have ordered from Bloomberg BNA’s book division. As soon as a new supplement or edition is published (usually annually) for a title you’ve previously purchased and requested to be placed on standing order, we’ll ship it to you to review for 30 days without any obligation. During this period, you can either (a) honor the invoice and receive a 5% discount (in addition to any other discounts you may qualify for) off the then-current price of the update, plus shipping and handling or (b) return the book(s), in which case, your invoice will be cancelled upon receipt of the book(s). Call us for a prepaid UPS label for your return. It’s as simple and easy as that. Most importantly, standing orders mean you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you’re relying on. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.960.1220 or by sending an email to email@example.com.
Put me on standing order at a 5% discount off list price of all future updates, in addition to any other discounts I may quality for. (Returnable within 30 days.)
Notify me when updates are available (No standing order will be created).
This Bloomberg BNA report is available on standing order, which ensures you will all receive the latest edition. This report is updated annually and we will send you the latest edition once it has been published. By signing up for standing order you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you need. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.372.1033, option 5, or by sending us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Put me on standing order
Notify me when new releases are available (no standing order will be created)