Objectors Urge Court To Review Evidence ‘Fatal’ To CRT Deal

Several people who oppose a potential $577 million settlement of litigation claiming manufacturers fixed the prices of cathode ray tubes urged a California federal judge Tuesday not to disregard evidence they say is “fatal” to the “conflict-infested” accord.

The group of the so-called excluded plaintiffs objected in late February to the nationwide settlement with indirect purchasers, in part because they said it improperly disregarded claims from people in Massachusetts, Missouri and New Hampshire. Included in the filing were various documents that they say contradict statements made by the lead counsel for the indirect purchaser class, who purportedly said those three states were excluded because no viable representatives came forward.

But lead counsel, attorneys from Trump Alioto Trump & Prescott LLP, asked the court last week to strike the documents, saying their inclusion was a “blatant end-run” around an earlier court order.

“Lead Counsel seeks to exclude them because he does not want this court to see them because they directly contradict his representations of unawareness in this case and are fatal to the approval of his conflict-infested settlement agreement,” the excluded plaintiffs responded Tuesday.

The dispute comes ahead of a fairness hearing set for March 15 over the settlements that indirect purchasers reached with Samsung SDI Co. Ltd., Koninklijke Philips NV and numerous other CRT manufacturers. The settlement provides monetary damages to residents of 21 state-specific classes and the District of Columbia.

On Tuesday, Connecticut and 12 other states complained the agreement improperly cuts out residents of states that haven’t passed laws or that lack court precedent repealing the bar on recovery of antitrust damages by indirect purchasers.

The attorneys general for Missouri and Massachusetts, meanwhile, said their residents may have had viable claims for damages but those claims were not pursued by class counsel.

Various other plaintiffs have also raised concerns about the deal.

One individual, Donnie G. Clifton, argued last month that class counsel failed to adequately represent the class because they chose not to pursue damages for residents of all 50 states. Robert J. Bonsignore, the attorney for the so-called excluded plaintiffs, told Law360 on Wednesday the situation was “insane.”

Among the documents his clients have asked the court to review is a retainer agreement that a Massachusetts man purportedly signed in 2008, agreeing to have Trump Alitio represent him in the litigation. The objectors say the man, Anthony Gianasca, was willing to represent the class.

There is also a string of emails and purchase records the group says show the firm was told about people in New Hampshire and Missouri who were also willing to serve as representatives.

“There simply are no valid grounds whatsoever that require this court to close its eyes to this evidence and blindly approve a settlement agreement in which lead counsel unfairly sacrificed the rightful claim to damages of class members who trusted in him to zealously pursue their claims,” the excluded plaintiffs said Tuesday.

Trump Alioto, however, has argued that Bonsignore already failed on two separate occasions to get these same documents into the record.

In December, the special master rejected his request to file a late reply brief, which included the documents as an attachment. Later, after the court upheld that decision, Bonsignore filed a motion to submit the documents as “rebuttal evidence.”

The special master, who called it a blatant end-run around the court’s earlier denial, ordered Bonsignore pay the costs for the time spent reviewing the motion “as sanctions for having made a frivolous request.”

Trump Alioto in a filing March 2 accused Bonsignore of now trying to slip these same documents in with the most recent objection. The firm said the documents should be stricken and he should be sanctioned again for this “sleight-of-hand.”

Bonsignore “is attempting to make another ‘blatant end-run’ around the court’s order, continuing to make frivolous arguments, and continuing to waste the time of all concerned,” the firm wrote.

A representative for Trump Alioto did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment Wednesday.

The indirect purchaser plaintiffs are represented by lead counsel Mario N. Alioto, Joseph M. Patane and Lauren C. Capurro of Trump Alioto Trump & Prescott LLP.

The defendants are represented by White & Case LLPSheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton LLPKirkland & Ellis LLPWinston & Strawn LLPWeil Gotshal & Manges LLPBaker Botts LLPFaegre Baker Daniels LLP and Squire Patton Boggs (US) LLP.

The excluded plaintiffs are represented by Robert J. Bonsignore of Bonsignore Trial Lawyers PLLC.

The case is In re: Cathode Ray Tube (CRT) Antitrust Litigation, master file number 3:07-cv-05944, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, San Francisco Division.

–Additional reporting by Vin Gurrieri. Editing by Emily Kokoll.For a reprint of this article, please contact [email protected].

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