back to article Li-ion battery 'price-fixing' case settled with bonus fury over lawyers pocketing eight-figures

A long-running legal battle over the alleged price-fixing of lithium-ion batteries involving Samsung, Sony, LG, Hitachi, and NEC, has finally been settled [PDF] for $113m. But the case remains controversial due to the extraordinary fees the class-action lawyers want for winning the case – a staggering $34m, or 30 per cent of …

  1. HellDeskJockey

    Welcome to the world of USA civil jurisprudence. From my experience of being involved in class actions suits you get a few coupons complete with restrictions and not much else. Most of the time I treat class action notices as junk mail. Unless you are offering real money don't expect me to waste my time with it.

    1. tfewster Silver badge

      I wonder. If the lawyers pursuing a class-action lawsuit are taking all the risk, aren't they entitled to a fair reward? Maybe it was a quick/cheap win in this case, but more complex cases would balance that out.

      So now we're just quibbling over what is a "fair" reward. For the class being represented, 70% of something is better than 100% of nothing. And at least, the bad actor has been stopped and made to pay.

      1. DJO Silver badge

        Total bollocks.

        If they work for 1,000 hours why should they get paid for 1,000,000 hours?

        Just have them put in a detailed invoice for the hours worked.

        1. jmch Silver badge

          "Just have them put in a detailed invoice for the hours worked"

          Except that as the OP pointed out, the class-action lawyers are the ones taking the risk since there is no guarantee the case will be won and that there will be ANY payout at all. It would be more reasonable to have a law or legal precedent that sets an industry-standard range of billable-hour rates and allows the lawyers to get, say, up to 10% as a bonus that will cover the risk of losing the case and therefore not getting paid their hours worked at all.

          30% is excessive, "hours worked" (without a guarantee of that being paid at all) would not be enough.

          1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

            The class-action lawyers are the ones taking the risk since there is no guarantee the case will be won

            Surely, if their expensive law degrees and prefessional experience are worth anything, they should have a pretty good idea of what their legal standing is before taking a case to court?

            Suggesting that they are taking on an appreciable risk is tantamount to suggesting that they either don't know what they are doing, or are chancing their arm. I don't see why that sort of behaviour should be rewarded, particularly with a seven figure sum.

            It's a bit like me, as a software developer, charging well over the odds for something I've written on the off-chance that it might be full of bugs that I need to be paid to fix. That wouldn't wash with any sane client, which is why my employer pays me a fixed salary for the hours I work, and if I churn out rubbish that doesn't work, I end up without a job.

          2. DJO Silver badge

            The class-action lawyers are the ones taking the risk since there is no guarantee the case will be won

            If they were on minimum wage that would hold water but no, they are paid hundreds of dollars per hour so they can easily afford to take on speculative work and absorb the costs if they misjudge the outcome.

            PS.

            Henry VI, Part 2, Act IV, Scene 2

            DICK: The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers.

            Still pertinent today.

    2. Blank Reg

      Over the years I've received quite a few notifications that I'm eligible to claim awards in some class action. I've never bothered to claim any of them as they are typically barely enough to cover lunch at McDonalds. It's just not worth the effort.

  2. Nick Kew Silver badge
    Devil

    Lawyer, sue thyself

    Who fixes the price of US litigation? It is surely far more overpriced than any battery!

    Oh, but the battery makers are foreign, and therefore guilty.

    1. Hans 1 Silver badge
      Holmes

      Re: Lawyer, sue thyself

      You can say the same about healthcare.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This is the wrong way to calculate damages

    The argument should be about how much each member of the class will get, and ensuring that that is fair. Then, multiply by the number of members, add some fixed statutory percentage for the lawyers, and give the companies involved the bill.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    But that huge figure is still a third

    great incentive do do it again. For the firms, for the lawyers...

  5. Chris G Silver badge

    Who'd a thunk it?

    A bunch of greedy lawyers?

    I don't know what the world is coming to!

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So, when do we start a court case..

    .. for price fixing amongst lawyers?

    It's going to be hard to find the lawyers for it, I guess.

  7. Chairman of the Bored Silver badge

    Lawyers...

    Mum worked for a civil counselor. Every time the yacht or airplane needed an upgrade, his multiple alimony payments got readjusted upwards (that's a thing in the US), or anything else would go bump in the financial night... He would go 'oh, crap" and have his staff start phoning clients to ask "questions relevant to their open cases" and bill the time. The calls were such BS that other than billable hours nobody bothered even documenting the content

    Six staff times ten calls per hour per staff member... Billed in 15min increments with a half hour minimum... At $150/hr in 1980's money. That's $4500 per hour, less expenses. Corrupt tosser, but rich

    Are we sure we want these bastards invoicing by the hour?

  8. Ima Ballsy

    What do you call .....

    Throwing 1,000 Lawyers into shark infested waters?

    OFF to a good start ........

    But then the sharks would not eat the lawyers because of professional courtesy .....

  9. Hans 1 Silver badge
    Headmaster

    Frank was equally unimpressed with the lawyers in this price-fixing case and says the lawyers should receive a maximum of 2% of the settlement: $1.4m less.

    #TFFTFY

  10. Snowy Silver badge
    Megaphone

    Why not instead

    First make them repay the whole amount they stole then apply a fine and add on top of that the lawyer's fee.

  11. Ptol

    The US legal system works perfectly for the lawyers... why would it change?

    Class actions, and insolvency are two examples of the US legal system where there is a pot of money legally due to a third party, and the lawyers involved are effectively set a target of how much money to spend.

    In a class action, the lawyers are taking on some business risk, but they are in control of that risk. They decide how much effort (i.e. cost) they spend on the case, and they are the experts in deciding in the case is winnable, and the risks involved. Why not allow them a 1.5x multiplier to allow them to get it wrong 1 in 3 times.

    In insolvency, there is a pot of money for the lawyers to spend, and any they don't spend goes to the people who are actually out of pocket. How often do the lawyers stop spending money before the pot is empty?

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It looks pretty clear and reminds me of a joke: why do bagels need boiling? Well of course they need a shower before the oven.

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