Most ridiculous lawsuits: How lawsuit against ended in paltry $3.93 payouts

Attorneys got paid $800,000; judge on the case sees the injustice.

Nearly 700,000 people received e-mails yesterday notifying them of a payment available to them through PayPal. Good news, but just barely: the payment was for $3.93, just about enough to cover your afternoon latte. The payment was the result of a class-action lawsuit filed in 2009 earlier against that affected about 60 million users in all.

Some class members took the time yesterday to tweet about the irrelevance of such a meager sum. “I just got $3.93… Woo, hoo, yawn,” wrote Bart Everson, in a typical reaction. ”Shall I get it all in pennies and roll around on the bed in it?” joked Lisa Pett. “I knew high school would pay off eventually,” quipped @onedavedeep.

In 2011, Classmates users who took the time to actually object to the settlement weren’t so humorous. Many expressed outrage that the lawyers who filed the class-action had asked for $1.05 million, while they were going to be offered $10 or less.

“I registered as a user of and have in no way, shape or form been damaged by whatever the asshole attorneys are claiming,” wrote Curt Miller, one of the 375 objectors whose e-mail became part of the public record. “This is a complete waste of time for all involved.”

US District Judge Richard Jones read those hundreds of objections and took them to heart. In a June 2012 order approving the settlement, Jones describes the long, winding road to the $3.93 payment that popped up in almost 700,000 in boxes yesterday. Turns out, Jones is about as happy with the results as many of the objectors were.

One long negotiation with “almost no individual benefit” to users

“The overwhelming majority of those 60 million users will receive nothing,” acknowledged Jones in his final order (PDF). “About 700,000 of them submitted claims, and will receive less than four dollars each for their efforts.” Classmates will pay $2 ...

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