Guest Post by Adam Schulman on KBJ’s Opinion in Ross v. Lockheed Martin

NBC News published a U.W. Clemon wrote to President Biden as a former federal Judge. Clemon asked President Biden to not nominate Ketanji brown Jackson to the Supreme Court, in light of this decision. Ross v. Lockheed Martin Corp. Judge Jackson in this instance rejected the proposed settlement for a class action.

This guest post is from Adam Schulman of the Hamilton Lincoln Law Institute. Adam, an expert on class action cases, has graciously allowed me to share it. (It should be disclosed that I am connected to HLLI as well as its predecessor, the Center for Class Action Fairness. This organization represented me.

Ketanji Brown Jackson — protecting the rights of class members; U.W. Clemon — protecting the pocketbook of his plaintiffs’-side law firm

District court judges feel pressured to get rid of their cases by agreeing and facilitating settlements. When district court judge are given settlements to settle claims by millions or thousands of class members who are not consenting to them, they must protect the class members’ best interests. In legal terms, they are expected to be a “fiduciary” for class members not present at the bargaining table. They cannot be expected to act as a “fiduciary” for the attorneys of plaintiffs or the defendants.

According to NBC however, U.W., a retired Alabama federal judge, was reported last week. Clemon wrote to President Biden asking him to not nominate Judge Ketanji brown Jackson for the Supreme Court vacancy created by Justice Breyer’s resignation. Clemon basically criticizes Jackson for not taking her responsibility to non-class members seriously and rejecting the proposed settlement. Ross v. Lockheed Martin Corp., 267 F. Supp. 3d 174 (2017). Clemon is mistaken; the proposed settlement RossThe case was not intended to “benefit” employees. Jackson did not violate her legal duty of protecting class members.

I will now explain some of the flaws that the proposed settlement has. RossJackson was correct in identifying settlement rejection approval as a matter of fact.

  • Proposed notice to class members didn’t provide any sense of “how giving specific answers on claim forms would be done”. [would]likely to influence the amount of class members’ recovery.”
  • If class members didn’t complete the “extensive” claim form, their rights to sue would be lost and they “would not be eligible to receive any compensation from this settlement fund.”
  • The proposed settlement created a “gross inequalities” between claims at issue and those that were released. Also, employees were asked to accept more than what the law allowed in the settlement.
  • Lockheed Martin would have been legal immunized against misconduct after all class members were allowed to withdraw from the settlement.
  • Because the discrimination against employees, if any was there, was individual and varied from person to person, the proposed class wasn’t cohesive.
  • However, the parties to settlement had not thoroughly evaluated class members’ claims and wanted to settle as soon as possible.

Under the operative law, each of these conclusions are almost indisputable. It is obvious, however. RossAlthough this is only a small sample of one case, it shows Judge Jackson’s views on the rule of law. District court judges are far too often influenced by the settlement parties to favor the class members’ interests. Similar abuses have been fought by my organization, Hamilton Lincoln Law Institute, and its Center for Class Action Fairness for many years.

In contrast, Clemon’s retired letter to the class makes one wonder if those class members whose claims were dismissed by his court got the proper consideration. Clemon’s letter is cynical. However, it seems more likely that his objection is a misunderstanding. He is the lead counsel for plaintiff-side firms. Ross He negotiated that settlement, which Judge Jackson refused to approve. The flawed settlement was rejected by Judge Jackson six months after he joined them.  Clemon’s letter to Biden neglects to mention that small detail—the decision Clemon bemoans just so happened to cost his firm more than $6 million.

It is very troubling that Clemon didn’t disclose his company was at the losing end in Jackson’s decision. It is clear that there was a conflict of interest. This episode shows that Jackson is the presumptive frontrunner. It will be a rough few weeks.