Beacon Class Action Lawyers Awarded $2.3MM in Fees — Lane v. Facebook

[Post by Venkat]

Lane v. Facebook, Case No. 08-3845 RS (N.D. Cal.) (Order re Attorney Fees)

The lawsuit over Facebook’s ill-fated Beacon program generated three lawsuits, a lot of wrangling by class action lawyers, and more than a few blog posts (e.g., “Beacon Class Action Settlement Approved;” “Stop Saying ‘We Can Amend This Agreement Whenever We Want’!;” “Texas Class Action Aims to Derail Facebook Beacon Settlement“). Judge Seeborg recently approved the settlement, which included the formation of a privacy foundation funded by Facebook. (Here’s an earlier post of mine summarizing the then-proposed terms of the settlement.)

The one item pending was the amount of fees which class counsel would be entitled to. Judge Seeborg issued an order on Monday awarding plaintiffs’ counsel $2,322,763.00 in fees and $42,210.58 in costs, for a total award of $2,364,973.58. Counsel expended approximately 2500 hours of work on the case, and sought a multiplier of 2.4. The court ruled that a multiplier of 2 was appropriate. The court also found that the hours attributable to the Harris plaintiffs should be “excised,” given that “those attorneys attempted to derail the settlement of [Lane v. Facebook] at the preliminary approval stage, before later coming to support it.”

[For an explanation of the lawsuit brought by a second group of plaintiffs (Harris v. Facebook) who initially objected to the settlement, check out this post: “Texas Class Action Aims to Derail Facebook Beacon Settlement.”]

Although several of the named plaintiffs recovered nominal amounts for their efforts, the class members recovered zero dollars as part of this settlement. The settlement was heralded because it brought significant non-monetary benefits: (1) the establishment of a privacy foundation and (2) a change in Facebook’s behavior. Given recent events, I’m sure many are probably left questioning the efficacy of one or both of these.