Attorneys to net $30 million in Yahoo data breach settlement; Small amounts to millions of class members possible
By Karen Kidd
SAN JOSE, Calif. (Legal Newsline) – Attorneys can expect a $30 million payday once the dust finally settles in Yahoo’s $177.5 million settlement of a data breach class action, approved by a federal judge in California last summer.
“The parties negotiated the amount of these fees, costs, and expenses with the assistance of the mediators and only after they had reached an agreement on the terms of the settlement on behalf of the settlement class,” the then-proposed settlement filed last spring said.
The settlement was approved by a federal judge last summer.
Lead counsel and co-lead counsel in the case are John Yanchunis of Morgan & Morgan in Tampa, Florida, and Daniel Robinson of Robinson Calcagnie, Inc. in Newport Beach, California.
Ann Marie Mortimer of Hunton Andrews Kurth in Los Angeles represented Yahoo in the litigation.
Yahoo’s road to a settlement since its disclosure in 2016 that its network had been compromised in late 2014 by “a state-sponsored actor” who stole “at least 500 million user accounts” was not an easy one. A little more than a year ago, San Jose-based U.S. District Court Judge Lucy Koh rejected a previous settlement.
Koh’s rejection was largely over Yahoo’s lack of transparency and the release of claims for data intrusions prior to 2014, but the federal judge also called the settlement to task over “disproportionate” attorneys’ fees. The earlier settlement would have allowed up to $35 million in attorneys’ fees, in addition to about $2.5 million in costs and expenses.
“Based on these numbers, attorneys’ fees would be 40 percent of the settlement fund,” Kohn wrote in her January 2019 order rejecting the earlier settlement. “Taking account of the additional funds the parties disclosed under seal in their supplemental filing, the court finds that the attorneys’ fees request remains much greater than the 25 percent benchmark standard used in this circuit.”
The following April, a settlement proposal was filed with Koh, who approved it in July, despite only about $5 million being shaved from the previous proposed settlement’s attorneys’ fees. There was no change between the settlements in the amount attorneys can expect to collect in fees and expenses.
Koh’s order approving the settlement lists attorneys’ fees but does not otherwise comment about them.
Meanwhile, actual victims of the data breach can expect to receive considerably less from the the total $117.5 million settlement. Some class members – anyone who had a Yahoo account between Jan. 1, 2012 and Dec. 31, 2016 and who lives in U.S. or Israel – could file claims for up to $25,000, if they can document out-of-pocket losses and/or lost time because of the data breach.
However, the settlement class potentially could include up to 194 million people and 896 million Yahoo accounts, which means that larger awards will be paid out only if the vast majority of class members don’t ask for anything.
All members of the settlement class may sign up for at least two years of free credit monitoring services or a $100 cash payment, but the settlement website makes clear that neither is guaranteed.
Settlement class members have until July 20 to sign up for credit monitoring or alternative compensation, according to the settlement website.