The U.S. Supreme Court wants more information from the parties and the U.S. Solicitor General on whether a $8.5 million consumer privacy settlement is properly before them.
It asked Google, class counsel, settlement objectors, and the government Nov. 6 to file supplemental briefs addressing whether the named plaintiffs have standing to sue.
Standing dominated oral argument Oct. 31 in a case that was brought to the justices on the appropriateness of using cy pres—the practice of distributing settlement funds in a way that indirectly benefits class members because it isn’t feasible to compensate them directly—in class settlements.
The request for additional briefing signals the court may find it doesn’t have jurisdiction to get to that question.
The court has three options if it decides standing prevents it from getting to the cy pres question: It can write an opinion addressing standing, remand the case for the lower court to reconsider standing, or dismiss the case as improvidently granted.
The claims underlying the settlement challenge Google’s practice of disclosing users’ search terms to third-party websites. The Solicitor General first raised the question of whether that constitutes a sufficient injury to sue in federal court in an amicus brief.
The supplemental briefs are due Nov. 30. Replies are due Dec. 21.
The Competitive Enterprise Institute Center for Class Action Fairness represents the objectors.
Nassiri & Jung LLP and MoloLamken LLP represent the class. Mayer Brown LLP represents Google.
The case is Frank v. Gaos, U.S., No. 17-961, supplemental briefing requested 11/6/18.