Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Leonard Carder LLP v. Patten, Faith & Sandford (Cal. Ct. App. - Oct. 12, 2010)

It's not enough that you think up a really good class action and get awarded $12 million-plus in costs and attorney's fees.  Then you have to whack it up with your co-counsel.  And fights over $12 million can get relatively ugly.  Just ask Leonard Carder and Patten, Faith & Sandford.

The appeal here is about jurisdiction, not the merits.  As to which the Court of Appeal gets it exactly right.  When there's a fight about distribution of fees, it's a "live" controversy that can legitimately be subject to a declaratory judgment action.  Moreover, that controversy can -- but need not -- be in front of the same judge that approved the settlement.  There's not "exclusive" jurisdiction there.  Particularly when the trial court said so expressly when it approved the settlement.  How Judge Rhodes (up in LA) got this one wrong is beyond me.

But it's all good now.  And the fight to whack up the booty can continue apace.