In Apple iPhone class action, plaintiffs’ lawyers defend $80 million in compensation

An image of iPhone smartphones is displayed at an Apple Store in Manhattan, New York City, US Feb. 11, 2022. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

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  • Opponents disputed $310 million “megafund” settlement and attorneys’ fees
  • On appeal, class attorneys and Apple attorneys defend the judge that approved the settlement

(Reuters) – A state plaintiffs’ firm on Wednesday asked a US appeals court in California for nearly $80 million in legal fees, which was part of a $310 million settlement to resolve class action claims over the performance of certain Apple Inc iPhones.

In the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, located in San Francisco, Mark Molumphy of Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy dismissed the objectors’ claims that the attorney’s fee, which amounted to 26% of the settlement, was too high, causing the tens of millions of dollars class and other claims about the settlement notification process.

US District Judge Edward Davila in San Jose, California, held hearings for two days and “did not approve the settlement,” Molumphy told circuit judges Jacqueline Nguyen, Ryan Nelson and John Owens. Davila weighed objections to the compensation award and the settlement, one of the largest class resolutions in California, before passing them in March 2021, Molumphy said.

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The panel expressed concern over the hour-long argument over whether Davila used the wrong legal framework before approving the settlement. Nguyen questioned whether Davila wrongly approached the settlement review under a “suspicion” that it was reasonable.

Nelson told Molumphy, “It doesn’t seem to me that the court is as involved as we would expect it to be based on some of the arguments that have been put forward.”

Molumphy declined to comment on Thursday.

The settlement resolved claims by multiple districts that Apple had secretly reduced the performance of certain iPhone operating systems to prevent phones from unexpectedly shutting down.

In settling the case, Apple said it “agreed to move out of this case” but adhered to what it called a performance management feature that “solved a complex technology problem.”

Apple’s appellate attorney Chris Chorba, co-chair of Gibson Dunn’s class actions practice group, deferred comment to Apple. A company representative did not immediately return a message asking for comment.

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

“Maybe pre-establish the standard he actually applies,” Nelson replied.

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

His brief in the appeal argued that the percentage should not exceed about 17%, which would bring in more than $35 million for the consumer class.

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

For Plaintiffs: Mark Molumphy of Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy

For Apple: Chris Chorba of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher

Read more:

Class attorney in Apple ‘pinch off’ case defeated multi-front attack to rake in $81 million in fees

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