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support impact litigation on behalf of marginalized communities
seeking economic, environmental and social justice.
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The Supreme Court docket this past term had class action practitioners holding their breath. Over the last five years, the Court has limited access to class actions in cases including Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. Dukes, AT&T Mobility LLC v. Concepcion, and American Express Co. v. Italian Colors Restaurant. This term, the Court took on an unprecedented four class action cases. The outcome is fascinating and has many ramifications for the ability of class actions to serve as a vehicle for groups of people—including workers, minorities, and consumers—to hold corporations and the government accountable.
In a unanimous decision this morning, the California Supreme Court affirmed that attorneys’ fees in a class action may be calculated as a percentage of the common fund created by a settlement or judgment. Laffitte v. Robert Half Int’l, S222996 (August 11, 2016).
In determining the appropriate percentage, the trial court may -- but is not required to – conduct a lodestar cross-check. The trial court also has the discretion, in the first instance, to determine which fee calculation methodology to use (i.e. common fund or lodestar-multiplier) in any particular case. The decision has a useful discussion of the history and criticisms of each method.
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