Attorney General Mark Brnovich, leading a bi-partisan coalition of 13 state Attorneys General from across the country, filed a brief in federal appeals court to protect Arizona consumers from abuse in the class action settlement process. In the Amicus Brief, Attorney General Brnovich asked the appeals court to reverse a lower court approval of a proposed class action settlement that would send $8.5 million to class action attorneys but only $225,000 in cash to consumer class members.
“Consumers must be our top priority in the class action settlement process,” said Attorney General Mark Brnovich. “Class action lawsuits serve an important role in protecting victims. The interests of others should never be placed ahead of consumers.”
The brief urging reversal of the settlement approval was filed in In re Easysaver, as a “friend of the court” under Attorney General Brnovich’s statutory authority to speak on behalf of Arizonans covered by federal class action settlements. The class action lawsuit alleged that when consumers clicked on ads offering a future discount during the check-out process for certain flower and gift websites that they were then improperly enrolled in a fee-based subscription service without the Defendants fully disclosing that consumers’ credit cards would be charged. Under the settlement, Defendants are paying out over $13 million in cash. Approximately $8.5 million of this goes to class action attorneys and another $3 million goes to San Diego area universities. But consumers only receive $225,000 in cash along with highly restrictive $20 “e-credit” settlement coupons to the flower and gift websites that are almost useless because they expire in one year, are subject to extensive blackout dates (including around Mother’s Day, Valentine’s Day, and Christmas), and require class members to spend their own money to take advantage of the face value of the coupon.
In filing of the brief in In re EasySaver, Attorney General Brnovich urges the Court to recognize that the proposed settlement is imbalanced and unfair because it sends two-thirds or more of the almost $13 million in available cash to the class action attorneys while the consumer class members get almost nothing beyond highly restrictive, nearly useless “e-credit” coupons. In particular, the brief emphasizes the important role Attorneys General and courts must play in advocating for consumers within the class action settlement process, since the process, and coupon settlements in particular, put consumer class members at risk.
Arizona is taking the lead in the case. Joining Arizona are Attorneys General from Arkansas, Idaho, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, Ohio, Oklahoma, Texas, and Wyoming.
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