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Friday, September 02, 2011

Ind. Decisions - One Indiana decision today from 7th Circuit, plus a highlight

In Williams and Meehann v. Rohm and Hass Pension Plan (SD Ind., Barker), a 13-page opinion, Judge Kanne writes:

After eight years, the end is near for this dispute between the Rohm and Haas Company Retirement Plan (the “Plan”) and all Plan participants and beneficiaries who took a lump sum distribution after January 1, 1976 (the “Class”). After this court affirmed the district court’s grant of summary judgment on liability, the Class and the Plan negotiated a $180 million settlement, of which Class counsel asked for $43.5 million in attorney’s fees. Numerous Class members objected, but the district court approved the settlement and awarded the requested attorney’s fees. Some of the objecting Class members appealed, and we now affirm the settlement approval and fee award. * * *

The district judge has become intimately familiar with this litigation over the past eight years, and we are confident that she properly assessed the litigation risks facing the early retirees. Although the Adamski Objectors urge us to remand and instruct the district court to perform a more thorough risk analysis, we recognize that the best we can hope for in awarding attorney’s fees is rough justice. See In re Trans Union Corp. Privacy Litig., 629 F.3d 741, 748 (7th Cir. 2011) (“[A] remand would produce only speculative refinements . . . and would do so at a heavy cost in judicial and party resources unlikely to be offset by any benefit in greater precision, which would in any event be illusory.”). Accordingly, we see no reason to disturb the district court’s assessment of fees.

We AFFIRM both the district court’s approval of the settlement agreement and its award of attorney’s fees.

The "highlight" today, something that may become a new feature, is the 23-page opinion in this case out of Illinois, E360 Insight, Inc. v. The Spamhaus Project. Judge Hamilton writes:
The last time plaintiff e360 Insight, Inc. came before this court, we affirmed the district court’s entry of default judgment against defendant The Spamhaus Project. All that remained was for e360 to make a reasonable showing of its damages. After a bench trial on the issue, the district court awarded e360 a mere $27,002, a far cry from the millions of dollars that e360 sought. Both parties have appealed. We conclude that the district court properly struck most of e360’s damages evidence, either as an appropriate discovery sanction or for proper procedural reasons, and we reject e360’s challenges to the judgment. We also agree with Spamhaus that the evidence failed to support the modest award of $27,000 in actual damages because e360 based its damage calculations on lost revenues rather than lost profits. We vacate and remand with instructions to enter judgment for e360 in the nominal amount of three dollars. * * *

By failing to comply with its basic discovery obligations, a party can snatch defeat from the jaws of certain victory. After our earlier remand, all e360 needed to do was provide a reasonable estimate of the harm it suffered from Spamhaus’s conduct. Rather than do so, however, e360 engaged in a pattern of delay that ultimately cost it the testimony of all but one witness with any personal knowledge of its damages. That lone witness lost all credibility when he painted a wildly unrealistic picture of e360’s losses. Having squandered its opportunity to present its case, e360 must content itself with nominal damages on each of its claims, and nothing more. We VACATE the judgment of the district court and REMAND this matter with instructions to enter judgment for the plaintiffs in the amount of three dollars.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on September 2, 2011 12:37 PM
Posted to Ind. (7th Cir.) Decisions