Critical Mass: In Chadbourne Sex Discrimination Settlement, Who Benefits? Plus: Morgan Lewis Wrestles With ‘Troubling Circumstances’ in Wage & Hour Case

Posted March 16th, 2018.

As It Appeared On
law.com

By Amanda Bronstad

Welcome to Critical Mass, Law.com’s briefing on class actions and mass torts. I’m Amanda Bronstad in Los Angeles. Chadbourne & Parke settled a gender discrimination class action this week — how much did women get? “Troubling circumstances” is how a federal judge described Morgan Lewis‘s actions in a class action. And more Xarelto trials are in the works.

Send your feedback to abronstad@alm.com, or find me on Twitter: @abronstadlaw.

Who Benefits from the Chadbourne Sex Bias Settlement?

When it was filed in 2016, the gender discrimination case against Chadbourne & Parke was touted as a $100 million class action.

This week, the case settled for a little more than $3 million — with one third of that going to lawyers. Here’s the story by my colleague Christine Simmons.

To be sure, Chadbourne & Parke (now part of Norton Rose Fulbright) hit a lot of obstacles in this case. The federal judge in New York refused to dismiss the case, and then ordered additional discovery (and speaking of discovery: here’s another Law.com story about the unsealed documents coming out of a gender discrimination case against Microsoft).

This week’s settlement is set to go to three lead plaintiffs who ended up securing a total of $2 million in back pay. That’s just for their Equal Pay Act claims.

Wednesday’s motion to approve the settlement says there are “separate agreements that resolve all of plaintiffs’ remaining claims against defendants.”

So what does that mean? Simmons told me:

“It’s not clear who else may have benefited from the settlement, whether Norton Rose will be forced to do anything for its current female partners or former Chadbourne partners, and whether the three named plaintiffs obtained anything else under any other claim besides the EPA counts. That may or may not be part of any private portion of the settlement.”

The motion also says “there are no other opt-in plaintiffs.” That’s significant because, unlike most class actions, cases brought under the Equal Pay Act require class members to opt in. Plaintiffs’ attorney David Sanford (Sanford Heisler Sharp) originally estimated that about 26 current and former female Chadbourne partners (see here) would be part of the class. But not everyone wanted to be included (see here).

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