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Class Representative’s Settlement Requires Court Scrutiny

At 298-99:
Because of the representative nature of class suits and the numerous and sometimes divergent interests that are at stake, the court is charged with protecting the class members who, through their absence, are unable to protect themselves.... In order to carry out this role as guardian of the absent class member's interests, the court has the power and the duty ... to ensure that the class representative and class counsel do nothing to compromise or otherwise prejudice the interests of those whom they have undertaken to represent....

In keeping with the above responsibilities, we conclude that, pursuant to Rule 23(e), once the class has been certified, any settlement with the class representative, even if only of his individual claims, must be submitted to the Court for review and approval.

The named plaintiff settled via separate counsel rather than class counsel, which the court finds sanctionable conduct. The defendants moved to disqualify class counsel on the ground that it had taken action adverse to its client, the named plaintiff. However, class counsel's obligation is to "seek to protect the best interests of the class as a whole," which may require actions in derogation of the desires and interests of named plaintiffs. The court also holds that defense counsel lack standing to seek disqualification of class counsel. See: Blanchard v. Edgemark Financial Corp., 175 F.R.D. 293 (N.D.Ill. 1997).

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Related legal case

Blanchard v. Edgemark Financial Corp.