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Facebook Biometric Privacy Deal Nets Attorneys $97.5 Million

March 17, 2022, 10:03 PM

Plaintiffs’ attorneys who litigated Facebook’s $650 million privacy settlement over biometric data are entitled to $97.5 million in fees, according to Ninth Circuit judges who upheld approval of the awards on Thursday.

The class action settlement, which was approved in February 2021, stemmed from allegations that the social media giant collected and stored digital scans of users’ faces in violation of the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act.

Attorneys were paid 15% of the $650 million settlement. But, although class members Dawn Frankfother and Cathy Flanagan objected to the fee amount, Judge Michael Daly Hawkins of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit wrote that the fees were fairly calculated and adequately explained by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

Hawkins was joined in his opinion by Judges Ryan D. Nelson and Danielle J. Forrest.

Frankfother and Flanagan argued that lobbying fees shouldn’t be included in the calculation of attorneys’ fees, but the three-judge panel ruled that the lobbying argument wasn’t adequately developed before the district court, so wouldn’t be considered.

Hawkins also upheld the district court’s approval of $5,000 incentive awards to the named plaintiffs in the suit.

Frankfother and Flanagan are represented by Kendrick Jan APC and John J. Pentz III of Sudbury, Mass.. Firms who represented Facebook users in the settlement are Edelson PC, Labaton Sucharow LLP, and Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd LLP.

The case is Patel v. Frankfother, 9th Cir., No. 21-15553, 3/17/22.

To contact the reporter on this story: Samantha Hawkins at shawkins1@bloombergindustry.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Rob Tricchinelli at rtricchinelli@bloomberglaw.com; Steven Patrick at spatrick@bloomberglaw.com