August 7, 2014
Business Insider reported on a famous US lawyer, Ted Frank, who is “raising questions” about HP’s recently-announced plans to sue former Autonomy executives, claiming that the OEM and the shareholders’ law firm were “actually colluding” in a court document he has filed.
Frank, who runs the non-profit law firm the Centre for Class Action Fairness, is “famous in legal circles for taking on other lawyers”, and believes that the settlement between HP and its shareholders over who is to blame for the write-down of Autonomy’s value is a “$0 settlement designed to benefit the attorneys”.
One of the law firms representing HP’s shareholders, Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy, LLP., filed a class-action suit alleging that HP’s inkjet cartridges “falsely warned people they were low on ink”, with the case settled between the firm and HP, and Frank has been fighting this settlement “for years on behalf of plaintiffs who weren’t happy with the deal”.
The settlement initially offered inkjet cartridge purchasers a $2 (€1.49) coupon but paid the lawyers $2.9 million (€2.1 million), which “seemed like high compensation to the lawyers for a meagre return to the plaintiffs”, and so Frank challenged the settlement, with an appeals court agreeing and sending the case back for negotiation; he believes that “most settlements are just paying off the attorneys”.
Frank told Business Insider that he founded his organisation “to intervene in cases where he felt lawyers were benefitting far more than their clients”, and he believes that the Autonomy settlement between HP and its shareholders “violates basic conflict-of-interest ideals”, as a law firm “shouldn’t be both suing and defending the same company at the same time”, with his document filed as part of the inkjet case to bring the Autonomy case to the court’s attention.
Frank aims to get the Cotchett attorney in the inkjet case, Justin Berger, disqualified from the class action, noting that the agreement between HP and its shareholders is “just black-letter law, something everybody learns in law school. If you’re an attorney and you’re representing the plaintiff, you can’t sign an agreement and represent the defendant and still represent the plaintiff. You have a duty to be loyal to your client”.
Berger responded, stating that Frank “is wrong on the facts and the law. Ted Frank’s mission is to do away with class actions, and he is apparently willing to make wild and baseless accusations of collusion to further that mission. Our firm’s mission, in contrast, is simple: to finally allow tens of thousands of class members to reap the settlement benefits we negotiated years ago”.
Business Insider added its opinion that “this could be the first time someone has publicly sided, at least in part, with former executives from Autonomy”.
Categories : Products and Technology