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June 19, 2017

Attorneys For We-Vibe Plaintiffs Seek 1/3 of Settlement in Fees

SPRINGFIELD, Ill.—Remember how, back in March, Standard Innovation, the manufacturers of the We-Vibe line of products (not to mention the We-Connect tracking phone app that goes with them), settled a privacy violation lawsuit filed them by two women who didn't want the company to be able to track online how much fun they were having with the company's products? See, the We-Connect app would allow the purchaser to use their smartphone to control the speed and some other qualities of the vibrator, but what some apparently didn't realize was that the app was also broadcasting user data back to Standard Innovation, including intimate user preference details such as date and time of each use, the chosen vibration intensity and pattern, and the email addresses of users who registered with the app. When they found out, some felt this was a violation of their privacy. And remember how AVN reported at the time that the plaintiffs and a bunch of other folks who could have have been included in a class action suit against S.I. if it had been so certified were going to split a settlement totaling $3.75 million, with the two named plaintiffs getting $5,000 each, leaving quite a bit of cash left over for the rest of S.I.'s 300,000 customers, only a third of whom actually used the We-Connect app? Eh, not so fast. Seems that the attorneys for the actual plaintiffs, identified only by their initials N.P. and P.S., are looking for $1.1 million in attorney fees for the case, which since its filing last September has yet to see the inside of a courtroom, while all of the other purchasers of We-Vibe products would each get a maximum of $100, or possibly as little as $20, depending on which product they bought. "The settlement secures extraordinary relief for the settlement class," the three attorneys from Edelson PC wrote in their motion filed last Thursday. "The fruit of class counsel's efforts compares favorably to the majority of privacy class action settlements, which often result in nominal amounts of money being paid directly to the class or indirect payments through cy pres donations. ... By contrast, many class action settlements in the privacy space to provide no monetary relief to class members at all." In any case, the attorneys argue that the $1.1 million represents about one-third of the total award, which is "comfortably within the going market rate" for a settlement of this sort. No word yet on what Standard Innovation thinks for the proposed fee. Same goes for the judge in the case, Judge Virginia M. Kendall of the Northern District of Illinois.

 
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