I honestly do not understand why the plaintiffs would settle this case. There are multiple emails that proposing the conspiracy, executing the conspiracy, expanding the conspiracy, and warnings to the ringleaders of the conspiracy (i.e. Jobs, Schmidt, Whittman, Lucas, etc.) being told explicitly what they were doing was illegal, and then actively taking actions to cover it up. (Specifically I refer to Eric Schmidt's email in which he said regarding the Apple-Google agreement, "I don't want to create a paper trail over which we can be sued later".)
The only way you can prevent this, and other kinds of organized and large scale fraud is through confiscation of revenue on a massive scale. To make the companies hurt and to directly effect the officers of the companies. Otherwise, these settlements are simply noise, and a chalked up as a cost of doing business.
Here's some numbers to keep in mind, when the settlement is announced.
Google $16.86 BILLION in revenue Q4-2013
Apple $37.5 BILLION ($7B profit) Q4-2013
eBay $4.5 BILLION Q4-2013
Unless the settlement is in the tens-of-billions of dollars, it's nothing. (Bonus points, if they settle, "while admitting no guilt.")
On Hacker News, the grumbling about the settlement was
immediate. “I honestly do not understand why the
plaintiffs would settle this case,” one poster wrote. But
some saw another side: “What did the engineers risk with
this lawsuit? Nothing. What did the law firm risk?
Getting paid peanuts for hundreds of hours they spend on
the case if they lose.”
Lawyers? Maybe they did the math and realized they could pocket $XXX million to $1 Billion if they settled.
On the other hand, engineers might get a $10 Adwords coupon or a free song on iTunes.
a) Take a $1b settlement today, yielding $500m for attorneys.
b) Take a chance on a $5b judgement that is then challenged with years of appeals and possibly reduced arbitrarily by a defendant-friendly judge down the road.
The law firm probably is just happy to get the money.
So, the lawyers could get their fee RIGHT NOW, or wait years til they get paid and do lots of extra work. Clearly, the lawyers maximize their fee per hour worked by settling now, rather than having years of trials and appeals.
Also, attorneys don't take appeals work on contingency, so you don't often see as many appeals.
The only people what you are suggesting maximizes for is the plaintiffs.
You also act as if the lead plaintiffs in cases like you suggest are blameless. The attorneys are not the ones agreeing to settle, and they actually can't do things without the okay of their plaintiffs.
What is the mechanism for making strategic decision for a class action suit? Do the plaintiffs hold a vote? Is the vote usually "we, the lawyers, have decided to settle for $x, either agree or sue on your own" or "should we settle for $x or keep pressing?"
You still ignored his main point, get the money now without delay and without the possibility of appeals court striking it down or lowering the amount won--if they win. Appeal after appeal can take a few years.
The attorneys are not the ones agreeing to settle, and they actually can't do things without the okay of their plaintiffs.
Can they "strongly suggest" it to the plaintiffs?
Lawyers don't get money unless clients want the money and are willing to settle.
The clients agree because they don't want this risk. They don't want to wait 7 years. It's easy to blame lawyers because they are essentially enablers, but ...
Behind every crappy settlement is a crappy plaintiff. There may be a shady lawyer somewhere, but laying the blame solely on the lawyer is silly.
For anyone who thinks the settlement is unfair, besides objecting, they can opt out. If he really thinks it is so cheap, easy, and low risk to win a lawsuit, he should do it.
"The attorneys are not the ones agreeing to settle, and they actually can't do things without the okay of their plaintiffs. Can they "strongly suggest" it to the plaintiffs?
They can give their plaintiff candid advice, which is usually "This will take 3-7 years of your life, decide whether you'd rather spend that sitting in depositions or with a small amount of money"
The vast majority of good class action attorneys are fine with either. They can often win much larger amounts than the settlement amounts to. No court in the world would let them drop out of the lawsuit at this point (fun fact: You can't withdraw in most cases unless the judge lets you, and the judge is not going to let you just because you didn't settle)
I'm not going to claim there isn certainly a cottage industry of suing to settle in certain areas. Trotting out this lawsuit as an example of that (when for example, we still don't even know the settlement amount) seems silly.