Anthem Data Breach Class Action Hung Up Over Attorneys’ Fees

Photo by Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

• Federal judge orders more oversight of $37.95 million attorneys’ fees request

• Case grew out of 2015 Anthem breach that exposed 78.8 million consumers’ data


Anthem Inc. can’t dispose of consumer class claims stemming from a 2015 data breach for now, after a federal judge raised concerns about nearly $38 million in proposed attorneys’ fees.

A class counsel request for $37.95 million in attorneys’ fees, out of a $115 million settlement, is getting an extra layer of oversight, Judge Lucy Koh of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California wrote in a Feb. 2 order.

The court is concerned with the attorneys’ fee request because the class counsel assigned tasks “across 53 law firms and 331 billers,” wrote Koh, who granted a motion to appoint a special master to oversee the attorneys’ fees award.

Such billing could be “duplicative or inefficient,” Koh wrote. James Kleinberg, a retired California state judge, will likely be named special master to review the fee request because the parties didn’t object to his possible appointment, Koh said in her order. Although the settlement is beneficial to the class, Koh refused to give final approval before the special master’s decision on attorneys’ fees.

The case stems from a hacking attack in 2015 where cybercriminals were able to obtain data on 78.8 million Anthem customers, including Social Security numbers, birth dates, and health-care data. Anthem settled with consumers June 23 but didn’t acknowledge any wrongdoing.

After the settlement, plaintiffs filed a motion for the attorneys’ fees. But Jan. 4, class member objector Adam Shulman filed a motion to appoint a special master to oversee the fees award.

The special master will review “the extensive billing in the case” because the current attorneys’ fees and expenses request would account for 45 percent of the settlement class—higher than the 33 percent generally awarded, Koh wrote.

Hogan Lovells represents Anthem. Altshuler Berzon LLP and Cohen Milstein Sellers & Told Pllc are class counsel.

The case is In Re Anthem, Inc. Data Breach Litig., N.D. Cal., No. 15-md-02617, motion granted 2/2/18

To contact the reporter on this story: Daniel R. Stoller in Washington at dstoller@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Donald Aplin at daplin@bloomberglaw.com