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Litigation

2003

Settlements

Articles by Maurer Faculty

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Clear Sailing Agreements: A Special Form Of Collusion In Class Action Settlements, William D. Henderson Jan 2003

Clear Sailing Agreements: A Special Form Of Collusion In Class Action Settlements, William D. Henderson

Articles by Maurer Faculty

A clear sailing agreement (or clause) is a compromise in which a class action defendant agrees not to contest the class lawyer's petition for attorneys' fees. This Article argues that clear sailing provisions often facilitate collusive settlements in cases involving non-pecuniary relief or claims-made common funds that return all unclaimed monies to the defendant. Because these types of settlements present difficult valuation problems, trial courts lack a clear benchmark for calculating attorneys' fees. Defendants and class can exploit this uncertainty by presenting an inflated settlement value to the court (to justify higher attorneys' fees) while simultaneously reducing the true ...