‘Serial Objectors’ Targeted in Class Action

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By Perry Cooper

Dec. 5 — “Professional objectors” to class action settlements are the target of a suit filed on behalf of class action attorneys Dec. 5 ( Edelson P.C. v. The Bandas Law Firm P.C. , N.D. Ill., No. 16-11057, complaint filed 12/5/16 ).

The suit alleges frequent objectors Christopher Bandas, Darrell Palmer, C. Jeffery Thut and others file frivolous objections to hold up the class settlement process.

They then attempt to extort a payment to withdraw the objection without any changes to the settlement agreement, according to the complaint, which alleges violations of federal racketeering law.

Defendant Bandas told Bloomberg BNA in an e-mail the suit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, is “patently frivolous.” Palmer didn’t respond to an e-mail request for comment.

Class Action ‘Underbelly.’

Edelson P.C., a plaintiffs’ class action firm focused on technology and privacy, filed the suit on behalf of itself and other firms that have agreed to pay fees to the defendants.

Firm founder Jay Edelson in Chicago told Bloomberg BNA in an e-mail the case “will shed significant light on the underbelly of the professional objectors bar.” He said the firm is encouraged by the response of other firms in the putative class who have reached out with their support.

Plaintiffs and defense attorneys say professional objectors can derail deals the parties have reached until the parties pay the objectors “greenmail” to go away.

Rule Change Not Enough?

A proposed amendment to the federal rule governing class actions, Fed. R. Civ. P. 23, seeks to deter professional objectors by requiring that side payments to objectors be approved by the district court.

Edelson said the change is trying to get at the professional objector issue, but he predicts that “certain professional objectors will proceed as if there are loopholes even when these changes are effective.”

The proposed class seeks money damages and an injunction prohibiting the defendants from filing extortionate objections.

Edelson and Benjamin H. Richman in Chicago, and Rafey S. Balabanian and Eve-Lynn Rapp in San Francisco, all of Edelson P.C., represent the proposed class.

To contact the reporter on this story: Perry Cooper in Washington at pcooper@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Steven Patrick at spatrick@bna.com

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