A federal judge for the Northern District of Illinois has given final approval to three major cruise lines and a travel agency of a $12.5 million class-action settlement. The defendants were accused of bombarding consumers nationwide with prerecorded telemarketing calls promoting cruise trips without their consent.
Defendants Carnival Corporation, Royal Caribbean Cruises Limited, Norwegian Cruise Lines Limited, and Resort Marketing Group, the travel agency that allegedly operated the auto-dialing system, contributed to the settlement fund together. The plaintiffs alleged that the defendants’ use of unsolicited robocalls violated the Telephone Consumer Protection Act.
More than 270,000 valid claims were filed following the initial approval of the settlement in July 2017. According to documents filed in support of the settlement, a total 274,851 valid claims were filed. According to Judge Andrea R. Wood, the judge overseeing the case, this works out to roughly $22 per claim.
In addition to the claims, thirty-one objections were filed opposing the terms of the settlement. Despite these objections, Judge Wood found that the settlement is fair, reasonable, and adequate. Much of the dissatisfaction identified by the objectors center around the amount of the settlement. As Judge Wood explained at the approval hearing, some media outlets reported that class members would be receiving as much as several hundred dollars apiece, but this pro-rata amount for each claim decreased dramatically following an influx of claims made following media coverage of the settlement. “The surge of claimants that resulted from the press coverage was not a situation created by the parties,” and thus did not render the settlement inadequate.
In addition to the amounts to be doled out to members of the affected class, the attorneys who represented the class were awarded $3,150,000.00 in attorneys’ fees using a percentage-of-the-fund method, which amounted to 33.99% of the total settlement fund after subtracting administrative costs and the named plaintiff’s incentive award of $25,000 for serving as the class representative.
Two of the objectors requested separate incentive awards and attorneys’ fees totaling more than six figures, but the judge found that their efforts to increase the settlement terms and influence the class notice procedures did not amount to material contributions which would justify such payouts.
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