Several objections filed last week over the $92 million settlement between TikTok and users who sued over alleged data privacy abuses have pressed the court to deny final approval of the settlement. One objector, represented by Edelson PC, argued that more than 98% of the class will not receive anything from the fund, rendering it unfair.
The case concerns allegations that TikTok was surreptitiously collecting user data, including that of minors, and sharing it with the Chinese government. A multitude of cases were consolidated in Illinois where the plaintiffs made various state law claims, including under the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA), a law that prominently features in data privacy class actions.
While the settlement received preliminary approval from District Judge John Z. Lee last year, the decision to finalize it remains pending.
Last week’s response to the plaintiffs’ motion for final approval by the Edelson objector said that 98.6% of the class “apparently thought the terms were so bad they didn’t bother filing a claim.” The objector labeled the turnout “embarrassing” and argued that class counsel failed to provide the 89 million member class with meaningful notice.
The objector also pointed out that class counsel failed to file their fee petition for a 33.33% award before the objection deadline in violation of Seventh Circuit precedent and class members’ rights. “By the time they were served with notice of the fee petition, it was too late for them to object,” the filing says.
Another response filed by the parent of a minor class member echoes arguments about insufficient notice and further contends that minors should have had separate representation during settlement negotiations.
Counsel allegedly discounted the possibility that minors may not have been subject to a motion to compel the arbitration of their claims, or would have defeated that motion, the objector says. Without the threat of arbitration looming in those plaintiffs’ future, they had more settlement negotiation leverage, the argument goes.
Yet, counsel did not contemplate that scenario and therefore negotiated without minor plaintiffs’ best interests in mind, the objector represented by Loevy & Loevy said.
Co-lead counsel for the plaintiffs and putative class are Carlson Lynch LLP, Fegan Scott LLC, and Bird, Marella, Boxer, Wolpert, Nessim, Drooks, Lincenberg & Rhow P.C.
TikTok is represented by Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati.