Trials & Litigation

Federal judge blasts 'at best, unprofessional' behavior of lawyer who wrote 'meritless' objection

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A federal judge in Manhattan has expressed “grave concerns” about the conduct of a lawyer who drafted an objection to a class-action settlement that was, in the judge’s words, “frivolous for a variety of reasons.”

U.S. District Judge Valerie Caproni is the latest judge to criticize Corpus Christi, Texas, lawyer Christopher Bandas, the New York Law Journal (sub. req.) reports.

“Throughout this proceeding, Bandas’ behavior has been, at best, unprofessional, and at worst, an unseemly effort to extract fees from class counsel in exchange for the withdrawal of a meritless objection to the proposed class settlement,” Caproni wrote in a Feb. 27 opinion (PDF, sub. req.).

Caproni said she wasn’t convinced she had the jurisdiction to sanction Bandas because he used local counsel and didn’t file an appearance. But she wanted to make sure local counsel in the future are aware of Bandas’ “track record” in other cases where judges have raised concerns, so she ordered him to give her opinion to any local counsel he tries to engage in the Southern District of New York.

Caproni said Bandas had been criticized by “numerous courts throughout the country” for drafting frivolous objections to class-action settlements, including a court in Illinois that deemed him “a professional objector.”

“This court joins the other courts throughout the country in finding that Bandas has orchestrated the filing of a frivolous objection in an attempt to throw a monkey wrench into the settlement process and to extort a pay-off,” Caproni said.

Caproni issued her decision in a class action over Major League Baseball Internet TV packages. She cited several reasons why the objection drafted by Bandas and filed by local counsel was frivolous.

The objection maintained the proposed settlement wasn’t adequate because it didn’t provide for monetary damages—even though the case had been certified as a class action for injunctive relief only.

The objection also stated that the proposed award of $16.5 million in attorney fees was excessive, but its proposed alternative would have yielded only $1.18 per class member—an amount that was so low “it would have made little economic sense to distribute it,” Caproni said.

And the objection asserted that Bandas’ client was a class member who had timely filed a claim, even though he had not filed a claim, as there was no procedure in the case for doing so.

Bandas did not immediately respond to an ABA Journal email seeking comment.

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