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Sean D. Reyes
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AG Reyes Joins Class Action to Support Victim Recovery Funds

SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH – Attorney General Sean D. Reyes joined 12 attorneys general in Kurtz v. Kimberly-Clark Corp in supporting class members who objected to attorneys receiving $3 million while the injured consumer class received only $1 million.

The case originated from a class action lawsuit brought against Kimberly Clark alleging that flushable wipes aren’t actually flushable. Both the private plaintiffs and Kimberly Clark agreed to settle the lawsuit with a payment scheme for affected class members, who would be able to file claims but only if the class members could produce receipts or bar codes for products purchased years before. Not surprisingly, only $1.35 million was claimed by injured class members but plaintiffs’ attorneys nevertheless sought $4.1 million in fees and expenses. A district court judge then awarded the attorneys just over $3.1 million, leading the non-profit Hamilton-Lincoln Law Institute / Center for Class Action Fairness to appeal to the Second Circuit.

In a friend of the court brief, the attorneys general argue “it was an abuse of discretion to award class counsel more than three times what the class received, [and that] the Court must confirm that settlements with disproportionate attorney fee allocations are not fair, reasonable, or adequate under Rule 23 and that attorney fees must be assessed in relation to the class benefit.”

The attorneys general emphasized that “judges can – and should – improve consumer outcomes in class actions by tying attorneys’ fees to claims made by class members…Assessing attorneys’ fees in relation to class awards will encourage class counsel to focus on the needs and desires of the class and devise better notice programs, settlement terms, and claims procedures. For example, making fees depend on the amount class members receive would encourage counsel to negotiate settlement terms with automatic payments rather than a claims process or to create simple claims processes requiring minimal or no additional documentation. Realigning these incentives will better protect consumers.”

Joining Utah and Iowa on the brief were the States of Alabama, Arkansas, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia.

Read the brief here.