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Judge says lawyers in Facebook settlement want ‘Nick Bosa money’

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Lawyers who sued Facebook over user privacy violations are seeking $180 million in attorneys fees — a sum the judge in the case likened to “Nick Bosa money,” a reference to a $170 million contract the San Francisco 49ers star signed one day earlier.

At a hearing in San Francisco Thursday, US District Judge Vince Chhabria noted that the lawyers hadn’t revealed in court filings what their take of the $725 million settlement would be. 

“Was that an accident, that you didn’t say the number out loud?” Chhabria asked.

After claiming the omission was an “oversight,” plaintiffs’ lawyer Derek Loeser said the fees amount to 25% of the Facebook settlement — which would be in line with standard fees in a contingency case where the attorneys don’t collect money up front.

“So, Nick Bosa money,” Chhabria said. The five-year contract extension made Bosa the highest-paid defensive player in NFL history, according to ESPN.

The judge is weighing whether to give final approval for the deal resolving claims that Meta Platforms Inc. illegally shared user data with the research firm Cambridge Analytica. Lawyers representing Facebook users had called the settlement the largest ever in a data-privacy class action, and the most Facebook has ever paid to resolve a private lawsuit.

UK-based Cambridge Analytica was connected to Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign for president and gained access to the data of as many as 87 million of the social media network’s subscribers. Facebook had argued it disclosed its practices in user agreements. It had also said that anyone sharing their information on a social network shouldn’t count on holding onto their privacy.

Chhabria heard from lawyers representing Facebook users as well as a user speaking for himself who objected to the settlement for various reasons — including the attorneys fees. The judge asked the lawyers to file additional written responses to the objections before he decides whether to approve the deal.

One lawyer representing Facebook users said the amount the company is paying to settle the case is a “slap on the wrist,” amounting to about 3% of its 2022 net profit.

The case is In Re Facebook Consumer Privacy User Profile Litigation, 18-MD-02843, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (San Francisco)

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