Antitrust Law Daily Final approval granted to $40M settlements in class action against online contact lens sellers
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Thursday, October 22, 2020

Final approval granted to $40M settlements in class action against online contact lens sellers

By Nicole D. Prysby, J.D.

The settlements ended litigation over claims that consumers paid artificially-inflated prices for contacts due to the sellers’ anticompetitive agreements.

The federal district court in Salt Lake City gave final approval to settlements between online contact lens sellers and consumers who claimed that they paid artificially-inflated prices for contacts due to the sellers’ anticompetitive agreements. The four settlement funds total $40 million. In a separate order, the court awarded attorney fees in the amount of 33 percent of the settlement fund (or $13,200,000) and $4,108,181 in litigation expenses. The court also made incentive awards $12,500 to each of the eight class representatives (Thompson v. 1-800 Contacts, Inc., October 20, 2020, Campbell, T.).

Consumers brought a class action against online contact lens sellers, alleging that they paid artificially-inflated prices for contacts due to the sellers’ anticompetitive agreement. The parties reached final settlements with the defendants; the last settlement was reached with 1-800 Contacts, Inc. in May 2020. The settling defendants were: National Vision, Inc. and Arlington Contact Lens Service, Inc.; Luxottica of America Inc.; Vision Direct, Inc., Walgreens Boots Alliance, Inc., and Walgreen Co.; and 1-800 Contacts, Inc. The settlement agreements created settlements funds totaling $40 million.

Court granted final approval. The court found that notice provisions for the settlement were satisfied and there were no written objections to the settlements. There were four settlement classes. The class periods varied, with the largest class period being January 2004 – September 2019. Numerosity, commonality, and typicality were met. The named plaintiffs and their counsel fairly and adequately represented the claims of the settlement classes and a class action was superior to other methods of adjudication. The settlements were fair and reasonable and were negotiated at arms-length by experienced counsel. The court appointed co-lead counsel for the settlement classes and eight class representatives. Notice to members of the settlement classes was sufficient and a list of persons who requested exclusion from the settlement classes has been filed with the court.

Fee, cost, and incentive awards. The court awarded attorney fees in the amount of 33 percent of the settlement fund (or $13,200,000) and $4,108,181 in litigation expenses. The court found the fees and expenses to be fair and reasonable; the notice provided to potential class members stated that counsel intended to seek attorney fees of up to 33 percent. Class counsel prosecuted the action skillfully and the case involved complex factual and legal issues that were vigorously disputed for three years. The court also made incentive awards $12,500 to each of the eight class representatives.

This case is No. 2:16-cv-01183-TC.

Attorneys: David W. Mitchell (Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd LLP) for J Thompson. Brent O. Hatch (Hatch Law Group) for 1-800 Contacts, Inc.

Companies: 1-800 Contacts, Inc.

MainStory: TopStory Antitrust GCNNews UtahNews

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