Wednesday, September 07, 2022

Aguilar v. Walgreen (9th Cir. - Sept. 7, 2022)

Three brief comments about today's opinion from the Ninth Circuit:

First, what a clusterfart. (As we say in this mostly-suitable-for-family blog.) One group of lawyers files a wage-and-hour class action against Walgreens, a month later another group of lawyers files a similar suit, and then the two groups of lawyers fight it out for years over which one gets the settlement booty. It's bad enough to have to fight the other side; to have to fight off lawyers on your own side as well makes it truly a hassle.

Second, on the merits, I don't disagree with Judge Bea's holding that there's no appellate jurisdiction here or his refusal to grant extraordinary mandamus relief. But when he takes a brief look at the merits to see if there's clear error, I'm not at all confident that he's right when he says:

"Here, Gallo/Wynne argued on behalf of Objector Vasquez that the proposed settlement 'is not fair, it is not adequate, and it is not reasonable,' and that it should therefore be denied. But Gallo/Wynne simultaneously advised certain putative Caves class members to join the proposed settlement, which necessarily seems to require the position, contrary to that of Objector Vasquez, that the settlement is fair, is adequate, is reasonable, and that, therefore, the settlement should be approved."

Just because you advise one of your clients to join a proposed settlement doesn't "necessarily [] require the position" that such a settlement "is fair, is adequate, [and] reasonable." It might instead be totally good for one client -- the client you advise to accept the thing -- but totally bad for another and/or bad overall. Take a proposed settlement, for example, that gives everyone who ever used RoundUp a flat $300 as payment for their injuries. I might well tell my 101-year old grandmother who used RoundUp once or twice and who's in perfect health to take the deal, while simultaneously telling my 55-year old brother who used the product repeatedly, has Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma, and has incurred over $1 million in medical expenses treating this terminal disease to refuse the deal. (These examples are not hypothetical, by the way; sadly, in the latter case.) Just because a deal is a good one for one client doesn't mean it's good for the class or fair, adequate and reasonable overall, nor does that mean there's a per se conflict. Because each person is different -- or at least might be. There perhaps is a potential conflict, but it's not per se.

So the right answer here, I suspect, but with some overly broad language that doesn't strike me as right, and that might perhaps be used to poor effect in the future.

Finally, and least importantly: I always thought the name was "Walgreens" for both the store and for the company. Nope. "Walgreen" for the company. No s. Even though the stores, website, and everything else have the last letter. It's the Walgreen Co.

You learn something new every day.