In Apple iPhone class action lawsuit, plaintiffs' attorneys defend $80 million costs

In Apple iPhone class action lawsuit, plaintiffs’ attorneys defend $80 million costs

An image of iPhone smartphones is displayed at an Apple Store in Manhattan, New York, U.S., February 11, 2022. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

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  • Opponents challenged $310 million ‘megafund’ settlement and attorney’s fees
  • On appeal, class attorneys and Apple attorneys defend the judge who approved the settlement

(Reuters) – A national law firm of plaintiffs on Wednesday asked a U.S. appeals court in California to uphold nearly $80 million in compensation for legal fees as part of a $310 million settlement resolving claims regarding the performance of certain iPhones from Apple Inc.

In the San Francisco-based 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, Mark Molumphy of Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy dismissed opponents’ claims that attorney fees, which amounted to 26% of the settlement, were too high, depriving the class of tens millions of dollars and other claims during the notice of settlement process.

U.S. District Judge Edward Davila in San Jose, Calif., held two days of hearings and “did not approve the settlement,” Molumphy told circuit judges Jacqueline Nguyen, Ryan Nelson and John Owens. Davila weighed objections to the indemnity and settlement, one of the biggest class resolutions in California, before approving them in March 2021, Molumphy said.

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The panel raised concerns during the hour-long argument over whether Davila used the wrong legal framework before approving the settlement. Nguyen questioned whether Davila wrongly approached reviewing the settlement based on a “presumption” that it was reasonable.

Nelson told Molumphy: “It doesn’t appear to me that the district court has engaged to the extent that we might expect the court to on the merits of some of the arguments that have been raised.”

Molumphy Thursday declined to comment.

The settlement resolved claims by several districts that Apple secretly throttled the performance of certain iPhone operating systems to prevent phones from turning off unexpectedly.

In settling the case, Apple said it “agreed to put this matter aside” but was sticking with what it called a performance management feature that “solved a complex technology problem “.

Apple’s attorney in the appeal, Chris Chorba, co-chair of Gibson Dunn’s class action practice group, deferred his comments to Apple. A company representative did not immediately return a message seeking comment.

“What does the panel want Judge Davila to do that he hasn’t?” Chorba said in court, defending the settlement.

“Maybe set the standard up front that he actually applies,” Nelson replied.

The appeals court heard arguments from opponents, including Ted Frank, director of the Hamilton Lincoln Law Institute for Class Action Fairness.

His memorandum in the appeal argued that the percentage should be no more than about 17%, which would net the consumer class more than $35 million.

The case is In re Apple Inc Device Performance Litigation, 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals, No. 21-15758.

For Complainants: Mark Molumphy of Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy

For Apple: Chris Chorba of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher

Read more:

Class attorney in Apple ‘limitation’ case beats multi-pronged attack to get $81 million in fees

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