It has been a while since TCPAland has seen a settlement in the three digit range per class member. But this week brought us such a settlement by way of the final approval order entered in Etter v. Allstate Insurance Company, Case No. C 17-000184, 2018 WL 5791883 (N.D. Cal. Nov. 4, 2018).
By way of background, most TCPA classes look at broad populations containing consenting and non-consenting class members alike. Recognizing the impossibility of identifying those few “needles in a haystack” that actually have valid TCPA claims lurking within the broader class population, settlements of such cases generally come in within $3.00-$5.00 a class member. And this is a fair resolution to the class–most folks in the class never actually received a non-consented dialer call anyway and those that feel they did can make a claim against the class and receive just compensation of $100.00 or so without any need to prove their case in court. It’s an imperfect market but a well established one that works well enough in the never-say-die world of TCPA class actions.
Occasionally, however, through luck or perseverance or luck a consumer lawyer will stumble upon a class that is actually certifiable and ascertainable, obtain all the data needed on the class, and force a Defendant to the table in a big-dollar resolution. That is apparently what happened in a recent junk fax TCPA class action against Allstate Insurance Company, and the result was remarkable–a $6.5MM settlement in favor of a class receiving a mere 17,422 faxes. That amounts to $375.00 per fax, per class member–one of the largest per class member settlements in TCPA history.
Not surprisingly the Court in Etter found the settlement fair and reasonable for the class. Class members receive 75% of the amount they would have recovered if they had pursued the case all the way to trial, earned judgment and then successfully launched a collection effort. That’s a pretty remarkable result for the class and may suggest that Allstate feared it had the worst of the case.
For the class counsel’s hard work in litigating the case they received $1.6MM of the class settlement fund. While that recovery is roughly 4,300 times higher than the recovery of the average class member, that’s actually not that bad in TCPAland where attorney fee recoveries in these class actions are commonly 25,000-30,000 times higher than the recovery allotted the average class member.
And so it goes.