Facebook class counsel objects to objector’s request for attorney fees

Posted on: October 25th, 2013 by Steve Larson

Online PrivacyClass action plaintiffs who agreed to a $20 million settlement with Facebook Inc. over claims the social media giant used members’ photos in ads without their permission on Friday said attorneys who represented objectors should not get a cut of the money.

The plaintiffs, who settled with Facebook in December, said the objectors’ attorneys are seeking attorneys’ fees for objecting to the settlement, as well as an incentive award for one of the attorneys personally.

According to the class counsel, the objectors are trying to take credit for changing an aspect of the settlement which was already in place in the agreement — the possibility of an increase in the monetary payment to the claiming class members.

The class members said the effort is an attempt to chip away at the class counsel’s fees, and is not a legitimate request for attorneys’ fees in compensation for work performed by Frank and a substantial benefit conferred to the class.

The memorandum said the objector’s request that their fees come out of class counsel’s fee award is not supported by any Ninth Circuit authority, and the out of jurisdiction cases do not support such an action under the facts presented in this case.

The suit was launched by Facebook users who sued on behalf of all people in the U.S. who had their names, photographs, likenesses or identities unwittingly used in ads, claiming they and others had no knowledge that by “liking” a company page, their names or likenesses would be used to promote that company to other users.

The users alleged that their individual, personalized endorsement of products, services and brands to their friends has provable value in the economy at large, which can be measured by the additional profit Facebook earns from selling sponsored stories compared to its sale of regular ads, which accounts for the majority of its revenue.

The case is Angel Fraley et al. v. Facebook Inc., case number 3:11-cv-01726, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.