In a June 2 decision, Judge Richard Posner, writing for a unanimous panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, criticized a number of statements and other aspects within a notice of class action settlement that had been approved by the district court.  In response to a number of objections that had been lodged, the Seventh Circuit rejected the settlement, removed lead class counsel, and also removed the class representative, holding as follows:

  • That the detailed class notice was too long and complex.  The notices “require a claimant to submit a slew of arcane data … [and] are so complicated that [the defendant] could reject many of them on the ground that the claimant had not filled out the form completely and correctly”;
  • That the class notice was “incomplete and misleading”; and
  • That the class notice was “not neutral.”

Based on these statements, class action litigants should carefully consider the complexity of the language of their proposed notices, the length of the notices, and the types of information that are required to be submitted by class claimants.

Troutman Sanders LLP has substantial experience in handling class actions, including assisting class administrators with crafting approved forms of notices to class members.  We will continue to keep abreast of similar developments in the area of class action settlement approvals, appeals, and objections.