A recent Law 360 story by Matt Bernardini, “Flyers’ Attys Win $14.1M Award in Airline Price-Fixing Suit,” reports that a California federal judge has awarded attorneys for a group of passengers $14.1 million in fees for their work on a $58 million settlement with All Nippon Airways, which was one of several airlines accused of conspiring to fix the prices of trans-Pacific flights.
U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer granted the attorneys about 25% of the final settlement fund, which was slightly lower than the 33% that the attorneys originally asked for. In his order, Judge Breyer noted that because this was the final settlement after two previous rounds of settlements with the airline companies, the value should be lowered slightly because the financial risk to the attorneys was lower in this phase.
Nonetheless, Judge Breyer noted that during the 12-year-long litigation, counsel for the passengers did exceptional work and that must be factored into the current fee award. "Because it was not possible to know, in earlier rounds, that counsel's work with respect to ANA would result in the settlement ultimately achieved, it probably makes sense to consider the strength of all work retroactively," Judge Breyer said. "It is also the case that counsel achieved excellent results for the class — this last settlement, with one defendant, was the single largest settlement in the entire litigation."
The long-running dispute dates back to 2007 when a class of flyers accused a group of airlines of conspiring to fix prices on long-haul trans-Pacific flights to several Pacific nations. In 2014 multiple airlines including Air France, Japan Airlines International Co. and Vietnam Airlines Co. agreed to settle in deals totaling $29.6 million. Qantas Airways and Singapore Airlines Ltd. followed suit and settled for a total of $9.8 million later that same year.