Verdicts & Settlements

BAR/BRI Settlement Approved

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A federal judge has approved a $49 million settlement in a class action suit against a bar review course.

But U.S. District Judge Manuel Real refused to approve incentive payments to class representatives and cut requested attorney fees, the Recorder reports. Real said class representatives had a conflict of interest, and they could work out any incentive payments with their lawyers.

Real said the law firm representing the plaintiffs, McGuireWoods, could collect 75 percent more than its normal hourly rate rather than the 125 percent requested.

The suit had claimed BAR/BRI’s owner, West Publishing Corp., conspired with Kaplan Inc. to monopolize their markets for test preparation courses.

The proposal would have paid three representatives $75,000 each in incentives and two others $25,000 each. Other class members will collect about $125 apiece.

Lawyer C. Benjamin Nutley, who represented clients opposed to the incentive payments, told the Recorder the lead plaintiffs had an incentive to settle rather than face an uncertain result at trial because an agreement with McGuireWoods tied their payment to the recovery.

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