Magistrate Judge William Matthewman approved a class action settlement regarding the mandatory reporting requirements imposed on independent tire dealers under the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act. The Court also issued an order compelling counsel for an objector to appear and show cause why she should not be sanctioned.
According to the Court’s Order, Melissa Holyoak, a Senior Attorney with the self-titled “Center for Class Action Fairness” headed by Ted Frank, argued that it was “legal error” for the Court to certify the Settlement Class under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(b)(2) because class members waived their claims for monetary damages in the Settlement – which the Court described as “patently false”. The Settlement Agreement, to the contrary, clearly stated that “Class Members are not releasing their claims, if any, for monetary damages.”
“It would have been obvious to Ms. Holyoak – indeed, to a first-year law student – that her strenuous objections were inapplicable had she simply taken the time to actually read the Settlement. This leaves the Court with several possibilities, including the following: 1) that she failed to actually read the Settlement before she filed her frivolous Objection; 2) that she filed her frivolous Objection without properly investigating her claims; 3) that she improperly used a cookie-cutter objection in this federal case; 4) that she knowingly and willfully made a false representation to the parties and this Court for purposes of obstruction, delay, or other improper purpose, or 5) some combination of the above…. Accordingly, Melissa Holyoak shall Show Cause, on or before September 16, 2020, why this Court should not issue sanctions against her, including, but not limited to, her payment of Class Counsel’s attorneys’ fees, costs and expenses incurred while responding to Ms. Holyoak’s false statements and representations.”
In overruling the Center’s other objections, the Court observes that: “The fact that the objections are asserted by a serial or ‘professional’ objector … may be relevant in determining the weight to accord the objection, as an objection carries more credibility if asserted to benefit the class and not merely to enrich the objector or her attorney. There is ample evidence to conclude Ms. Holyoak, and the CCAF, by whom she is employed, are of the ‘serial’ variety. In re Equifax Inc. Customer Data Sec. Breach Litig. at *268 (admonishing the CCAF and listing numerous cases containing similar admonishments).”
Exum v. National Tire & Battery, No.19-80121, Rec. Doc. 109 (S.D.Fla. Sept. 2, 2020).
[See also, e.g., Submission by Class Counsel on Remand of Medical Settlement (with Incorporated Motion to Strike, Motion to Dismiss, and Motion for Sanctions), In re Deepwater Horizon, MDL No. 2179, Rec. Doc. 11869 (filed in the E.D.La. on Nov. 19, 2013)]