18 April 2013

You've Gotta Have a Sick Sense of Humor to be a LitiGator

... and sometimes it bleeds into other things in unexpected ways.

I saw an interesting summary of news on mortgage foreclosure litigation this morning that impinges on the Authors' Guild's proposed settlement of the Google Books case... and reflects even more badly on the AG's failure to pay attention. As y'all might be aware, there was a huge settlement on behalf of people harmed ("defrauded" would have been the finding had it gone to a verdict) during the mortgage crisis by improper foreclosures. People have finally started getting checks, four years and more after they were harmed, as a result of the settlement.

Which bounced.

I only wish I was making this up. The explanation being offered/inferred is that the settlement processor, Rust Consulting, didn't move the money into the account those checks were written on. Of course, that begs the question of why the money hadn't been paid directly into a segregated, for-this-purpose-only account upon its initial receipt... but the finance industry's obsession with "short-term floats" is an adequate, if repulsive, explanation. <SARCASM> I'm nonetheless completely confident that this is an isolated incident. </SARCASM>

Care to guess who the Authors' Guild and its counsel had contracted with to manage the proposed Google Books settlement? That's right, Rust Consulting... whose "opt-out list" wasn't even alphabetized in a coherent fashion. Since it was an "image" PDF, it wasn't searchable, either... and the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, not to mention the local rules of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, require the maximum possible use of searchable PDFs. That comes closer to "disdain for absent class members' rights" than anyone should be comfortable with, since the only way to be certain that one's opt-out had been received was to find it on that list!

Just another data point for your day that doesn't involve a dysfunctional, nonproportionally-constituted legislative body being held hostage by its own rules.