Bass Pro Shops to Pay $6M to Settle Claims

     (CN) - Bass Pro Shops will pay $6 million to settle class claims that it illegally recorded phone calls to and from California, a federal judge ruled, approving the deal.
     The California Invasion of Privacy Act bans companies from recording phone calls with consumers without first disclosing the call may be recorded.
     Lead plaintiff Geoffrey McDonald sued the Missouri-based Bass Pro Outdoor World and several affiliates in San Diego Superior Court. Bass Pro then removed the case to federal court.
     Following more than a year of litigation, and mediation led by retired U.S. Magistrate Judge Leo S. Papas, the parties signed settlement documents on May 22.
     U.S. District Judge Cynthia Bashant granted preliminary approval of the deal Friday.
     The class includes "[a]ll natural persons who, while present in California and using a telephone with a California area code, participated in at least one recorded telephone call to Bass Pro between March 14, 2012 and March 27, 2013 or at least one recorded telephone call from Bass Pro between March 14, 2012 and April 3, 2013," according to the proposed settlement.
     Bass Pro changed its policy two weeks after the lawsuit was filed and stopped recording calls from California without first giving notice the call could be recorded.
     Bass Pro also ceased recording calls to California on April 4, 2013.
     Using Bass Pro's records, the parties identified 30,400 potential class members in discovery and determined that each one would get $197.49 under the settlement.
     But as Judge Bashant noted in her order, that figure does not consider $1.8 million in attorney's fees, equal to one-third of the settlement, $150,000 in court costs and an up to $20,000 "service payment" to the lead plaintiff.
     "Taking into account these deductions, the amount available for distribution to the class members could be as low as $4,030,000, which turns out to produce a $132.57 payment to each potential class member. That said, the payout could also be higher depending on the final size of the participating class," Bashant wrote in the 22-page order.
     Bashant ordered a claims administrator to mail potential class members notice of the settlement to their last-known address, and publish info about the deal twice in the Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle, San Diego Union-Tribune, Sacramento Bee and Fresno Bee.
     Bashant also told the administrator to set up a website, post all the relevant court documents there and direct all potential class members to the site in the newspaper notices and mailings.
     Class members have the option of filing claims, opting out or objecting to the settlement, the judge explained.
     Since the parties still have to establish the class members, Bashant's order only grants preliminary settlement approval.
     She set the final approval hearing for Dec. 15, 2014 at her courtroom in San Diego.