Small EBay Class Victory Nets Just $23K in Fees

     (CN) - After reaching a small settlement with users of its mobile app who faced unwelcome charges, eBay owes the class counsel about $23,000, a federal judge ruled.
     Tasha Kiersey had sued the online auction site in March 2012, bringing claims for breach of contract, bad faith and unjust enrichment after she was allegedly charged improper fees while trying to sell items using eBay's mobile application.
     Over a year later, U.S. District judge Jon Tigar in San Francisco approved a final settlement of $95,000, to be distributed via eBay credit instead of cash.
     "In this case, given the small amount that any individual class member would be likely to receive weighed against the cost of mailing individual checks, the court concludes that an account credit is an appropriate way to distribute the settlement," Tigar wrote at the time.
     Class counsel, Keith Verges of Figari & Davenport, said the amount of the settlement was small and that it was important for both sides not to prolong the lawsuit.
     "We will seek $30,000 in our fee application, but have actually spent about four times that," Verges said Oct. 28. "We are upside-down in this, but that's our duty as counsel for the class."
     Tigar denied the request for $30,000 last week, however, and instead granted $23,750 in fees.
     "Sometimes the recovery turns out to be lower than expected, or even non-existent; sometimes the recovery turns out to be substantial or even enormous," he wrote. "Just as the court would not deprive class counsel of all their potential profit in cases in the latter category, it cannot insulate class counsel from the risk of pursuing an unprofitable case."
     Though counsel for the class showed "skill and expertise," it was not "to a degree deserving of unusual consideration," the ruling states.
     Sticking with a case when you know you are going to lose money is part of the job, Tigar added.
     "Continuing to represent a client and advance her interests is a basic responsibility of counsel, not a special circumstance deserving of enhanced compensation," he wrote. "A class counsel award in the amount of $23,750 is reasonable."
     Tigar also awarded Figari & Davenport more than $3,000 in expenses, and Kiersey will take home a $500 incentive compensation award.