Google Class-Action Payout Split Among Only 14 Groups

Google’s recent settlement of the Buzz class-action lawsuit has raised some eyebrows over the selection criteria used for choosing organisations that get paid in the settlement.

Dan Popeo of the Washington Legal Foundation points out that the Google Buzz settlement makes the plaintif’s lawyers and a select few well-funded acitivist groups richer by millions of dollars, while leaving other out in the cold.

Google has agreed to pay around $8 million in the settlement. Popeo explains that out of the $8 million, $2 million have been awarded to lawyers with the remaining $6 million being distributed among privacy groups.

Around 77 organisations have applied to get part of the settlement, but only 14 managed to make the cut. Popeo questions the process by which the organisations were selected. Popeo reports that one of the organisations selected for the pay out, Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University received $500,000 in settlement. The presiding Judge Ware is listed as a lecturer at MCAE.

“There are few better cases to illustrate [...] the easy abuse of the class action device than the Google Buzz settlement. Why were these lucky 14 settlement fund recipients chosen and not others? What criteria were used to choose them? How will the $6.1 million provide an “indirect benefit” (as the judge put it) to the faceless, nameless plaintiffs in the suit?” asks Popeo, according to a Forbes report.