Judge Approves Sirius Class-Action Settlement

August 26, 2011 Business Law Daily NEW YORK – A U.S. District Court judge in New York this week approved a $180 million class-action settlement with satellite-radio broadcaster Sirius XM Radio Inc., despite objection from the Center for Class Action Fairness. The class action against Sirius alleged the company violated antitrust law by raising its rates after acquiring its rival, XM Satellite Radio, in 2008. The settlement provides $13 million for attorneys representing the class, but no direct compensation for those they represented, critics pointed out. Meanwhile, Sirius will forego roughly $180 million in fees to subscribers. On Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Harold Baer in Manhattan approved settlement of the lawsuit. Preliminary approval was granted in May. "I have reviewed the settlement's substantive terms and conclude that they demonstrate sufficient fairness, adequacy and reasonableness," Baer wrote. "The vast majority of class members will benefit in the course of their normal subscription payments." The Washington, D.C.-based Center for Class Action Fairness objected to the $13 million in the settlement earmarked for the class counsel, which included the plaintiffs' firms of Cook, Hall & Lampros LLP, Grant & Eisenhofer P.A., and Milberg LLP. The judge, dismissing objectors' claims, said the amount of attorneys' fees is appropriate. "I have reviewed the attorney expense sheets as well as the attorney time-keeping records, and found nothing to suggest exorbitant rates nor double billing nor padding of any kind," Baer wrote. The class accused Sirius XM of flouting promises it made so the merger would gain approval from the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the U.S. Justice Department. For its part, Sirius blamed rate hikes on increased operating costs. The lawsuit was brought by Carl Blessing in 2009. The Florida resident claimed violations of federal antitrust statutes and state consumer-protection laws after Sirius raised some prices and imposed a music-royalty fee, following the merger. In March, the lawsuit was certified as a class action on behalf of Sirius XM subscribers from July 29, 2008, to July 5, 2011. The settlement allows Sirius prices for basic service and Internet access, as well as the royalty fee, to remain at current levels through the end of 2011. The case is Blessing v. Sirius XM Radio, No. 09-10035, Southern District of New York (Manhattan). Related articles Sirius XM Class Action Lawsuit Settlement Approved….It May Not Be Over Though (siriusbuzz.com) Filed under: Business, Litigation, News

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