ATLANTA –– A class action settlement between Godiva Chocolatier Inc. and an aggrieved customer will continue, a federal appeals court ruled.
In the Oct. 3 ruling, the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a lower court's decision to approve the settlement over the chocolate company's alleged violations of the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACTA).
David S. Muransky filed the lawsuit in 2015 after noticing Godiva displayed more than five digits of his credit card number on a receipt, which violates FACTA.
Under the settlement, Muransky will receive $10,000 and attorney fees of approximately $2.1 million. In addition, Godiva will set up a $6.3 million settlement fund. Court documents estimate class members who submitted a timely claim form will receive approximately $235.
About 47,000 people submitted claims.
The plan was previously approved by a Florida magistrate judge. However, four days later, five class members objected to the settlement, primarily on the large amount of attorney fees. Two of those class members, James Price and Eric Isaacson, made detailed arguments in opposition to the requested attorney fees and incentive awards
However, the appeals court did not feel the objectors' arguments required a reversal of the settlement.
“Although we conclude the district court erred by requiring class members to object before they could assess the attorney’s fee motion, we hold that error does not warrant reversal under the particular facts of this case," Douglas H. Ginsberg wrote in the opinion.
"On this record, we have no reason to think other unnamed class members would have made arguments besides those made by Mr. Price and Mr. Isaacson," Ginsberg wrote. "Class members were not therefore prejudiced by the objection schedule established by the district court. The district court did not abuse its discretion by awarding attorneys’ fees.”
Although the fee award is larger than similar past lawsuits, the amount is not "too big," Ginsberg noted.
Panel members Judge Beverly B. Martin and Judge Adalberto Jordan concurred.
Judge Ginsberg, who is a U.S. Circuit Judge for the District of Columbia, was sitting by designation on this case.