Via Overlawyered, this is the hilarious account from a Doctor Hebert about finding out that he was suing Cisco. He was a little non-plussed by this:
Did I want to sign up for the largesse, it inquired. It politely
offered me the option of declining, saying, "IF YOU DO NOT WISH TO BE
INCLUDED IN THE CLASS AND YOU DO NOT WISH TO PARTICIPATE IN THE
PROPOSED SETTLEMENT DESCRIBED IN THIS NOTICE, YOU MAY REQUEST TO BE
EXCLUDED." (The capitalization is theirs. I am not usually that
annoying.) Well, THANK GOD, I said. I can opt out of a lawsuit that was
filed in my name without my approval if I should have, well, you know,
Except, as lawyers like to say, don't neglect to
read the next sentence. And the next, and the next, and the next, and
the next. Somewhere in there is the gotcha. "TO DO SO, YOU MUST SUBMIT
A WRITTEN REQUEST FOR EXCLUSION THAT MUST BE RECEIVED ON OR BEFORE
OCTOBER 31, 2006."
All right, now. I got the letter on
November 13, 2006. Admittedly the U.S. Post Office is slow, but I'll
give them credit for getting a letter from the West Coast to
Mississippi in less than 14 days. Unfortunately, the letter was mass
mailed and thus bypassed the local post office. It bore no postmark. In
other words, I got the letter two weeks too late to opt out of the
lawsuit, and I had no postmark to prove it was intentionally mailed out
late to prevent me from refusing to participate. The old expiration
date trick. That was slick, Mssrs. Lerach, Coughlin, Stoia, Geller,
Rudman, Robbins, Levin, Papantonio, Thomas, Mitchell, Echsner, &
Proctor -- real slick.
He is even more non-plussed to learn that he is in line for a check for $0.90, while the lawyers are in for $23.9 million. I feel his pain. I, for example, have been informed on several occasions that Visa and Mastercard, among others, are being sued in my name, though I never engaged anyone to do so.
Update: Another huge fee for the attorneys, 50-cent coupons for customers class action is in the midst of an ugly fight over attorney billing rates - ironically in a cosmetics lawsuit alleging overpricing.
Among the alleged abuses were
bills of $195 an hour for work by paralegals who were paid just $30,
claims that attorneys and paralegals worked 24-hour or even 72-hour
days, and charges of $90 an hour or more for cleaning desks and
to records filed with the federal court, individuals at one legal group
representing the class, the Law Offices of John Burris in Oakland,
billed as much as 72 hours in a single day for document review and, in
dozens of instances, billed for 24-hour days.
Of course the attorneys had a strong rebuttal to these revelations:
The lawyers accused of overstating their hours and expenses responded
by strenuously objecting to Judge Armstrong about the public disclosure
of their billing records, which the attorneys said were confidential.