Judge Friedman has been busy signing orders. What orders did he sign today?
On January 29, 2013, Judge Friedman entered an opinion and order denying both John W. Boyd’s motion for leave to file a response to Class Counsels’ motion for attorneys’ fees and Adam J. Segal’s motion to intervene in this case.
Let’s delve into what all of this means…
John Boyd’s Motion
Last year, in response to Class Counsels’ Motion for Attorneys’ Fees, John W. Boyd, both individually and on behalf of the National Black Farmers Association, filed a motion with the court requesting to respond to Class Counsels’ motion for fees and for an evidentiary hearing. In his motion, Mr. Boyd alleged that “Class Counsel have failed to compensate him for thousands of hours that he devoted to lobbying and public advocacy” in support of the provisions in the legislation that made recovery in this lawsuit possible, despite promises from Class Counsel.
However, the court ruled that Mr. Boyd has no legal standing to participate in the case because he is not a party. (Mr. Boyd apparently received a determination under Pigford 1 and is therefore not eligible to participate in this lawsuit). Simlarly the National Black Farmers Association has no legal standing to object to Class Counsels’ attorneys’ fees. The court noted that any claim Mr. Boyd has against Class Counsel for breach of contract will have to be litigated in a separate action.
Adam Segal’s Motion
Similarly in response to Class Counsel’s Motion for Attorneys’ Fees, Adam J. Segal, a public relations professional, filed with the court a Motion to Intervene in the case in order “to protect his entitlement to the payment of his fees and unreimbursed expenses in the amount of $519,350 from the Common Fund” which he claims results from his publicity work in helpng to create the cause of action for black farmers in this case.
Mr. Segal claimed that if Class Counsel were awarded their full fees, there would be no money left to pay his expenses. However, the court ruled that Mr. Segal had no legal right to intervene because he cannot demonstrate a “legally protected interest” in this action and this action does not threaten to impair any interest that he possesses. Further, the court refused to exercise its discretionary power to allow Mr. Segal to intervene with permission. Tellingly, Judge Friedman stated, “Any inconvenience caused to Mr. Segal by forcing him to pursue his claims in a separate lawsuit is more than outweighed by the interest of the claimants in this case — many of whom have waited years for the relief they seek— in keeping this action free of satellite, fee-related disputes lacking any direct connection to the plaintiffs’ underlying claims or to the settlement agreement.” We suppose the Judge feels enough people besides the class members have been paid already.
So what does all of this mean?
This ruling allows Judge Friedman to finally rule on the Attorneys’ Fees motion without being held up by fee disputes from John Boyd, NBFA, or Adam Segal.
Hopefully, this will move the process along for distribution of settlement awards.