As guidelines and rules in the class action space evolve, settlement administrators must evolve with them. Post-distribution accounting as per the Northern District of California Procedural Guidelines for Class Action Settlements is one of the most significant recent changes to the guidelines and requires a shift in how data is reported to class members and the Courts throughout the administration period.
Within 21 days after the distribution of the settlement funds and payment of attorneys’ fees, the parties should file a post-distribution accounting, which provides the following information (…in an easy-to-read chart that allows for quick comparisons to other cases):
- Total settlement fund
- Total number of class members
- Number and percentage of claim forms submitted
- Total number of class members whose notice was not returned undeliverable
- Number and percentage of opt-outs
- Number and percentage of objections
- Method(s) of payment to class members
- Average and median recovery per claimant
- Largest and smallest amount paid to class members
- Method(s) of notice
- Number and value of checks not cashed
- Amounts distributed to each cy pres recipient
- Administrative costs
- Attorney’s fees and costs
- Attorney’s fees as a percentage of the fund
- Non-monetary: Number of class members using the benefit and the aggregate value redeemed
In addition, the guidelines recommend providing an informational settlement website for each case that contains regularly updated claimant rewards.
“Class counsel should consider the following ways to increase notice to class members:…providing a settlement website that estimates the claim amounts for each specific class member and updating the website periodically to provide accurate claim amounts based on the number of participating class members…”
While claim amounts for specific class members are more accurate toward the completion of the administration process after claims have been thoroughly reviewed, it is technologically feasible to use raw data to provide real-time estimates on the settlement website.
Live Accounting on the Class Action Settlement Website
A class action settlement administrator should be able to easily accommodate these requirements in the Northern District in an easy-to-read chart. In addition to including this information in a chart in the declaration for final approval, a settlement summary should be included on the settlement website.
Leveraging our proprietary, fully integrated technology, the settlement websites include a settlement summary with a chart that is updated as the administration database is updated. The easy-to-read chart is readily available to class members, counsel, and the court.
The data reflected in the chart on our websites, as pictured above, is updated in real-time as our team updates our proprietary case databases with information such as total notice mailings/emails sent and the number of claims received, as well as the number of checks issued and the number of checks cashed. This settlement summary has been developed to hit each post-distribution accounting checkpoint from the Northern District.
Making this information available in real-time satisfies the transparency that so many of the new guidelines seek to create.