The questions presented:
In a decision that conflicts with many decisions of both this Court and other appellate circuits, the Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia affirmed the final approval of a contested settlement of a long-standing class action involving mismanagement of land trusts for American Indians. Without allowing them to opt out, the settlement extinguishes the rights of the class members to any accounting of the moneys they are owed, in exchange for a one-time $1,000 payment. Then, despite the class members’ ignorance of the amount to which they would be entitled, the settlement offers an additional baseline sum of at least $800 in exchange for which they relinquish any rights to sue on dozens of related claims.
This settlement was approved over the objections of a number of class members. In addition to the bargain described above, it afforded a $99 million fee to the plaintiffs’ attorneys, and incentive payments ranging between $150,000 and $2 million for each of the named plaintiffs.The questions presented are:1. Whether a court may impose on an objector the burden to provide evidence of a structural conflict where it concedes that the defendant’s conduct has destroyed any such evidence.
2. Whether the payment of incentives to named plaintiffs of an amount more than eighty times the award due each class member compromises their ability to adequately represent the class at settlement.