Yamada v. Nobel Biocare Holding AG, No. 14-55263 (9th Cir. 2016)Annotate this Case
Plaintiff, a California-based dentist specializing in tooth implants, filed a class action complaint against Nobel alleging a defect in the NobelDirect implant. On appeal, Nobel challenges the district court's order awarding class counsel more than $2.3 million in attorneys’ fees. The court concluded that defendants have not waived their due process argument where the record demonstrates that defendants raised the issue with sufficient specificity and vigor. On the merits, the court concluded that the district court’s use over defendants’ objection of ex parte, in camera submissions to support its fee order violated defendants’ due process rights. The court remanded for the district court to allow defendants access to the information at issue, to allow plaintiffs to respond to defendants' objections and for defendants to reply, and then the district court can decide the appropriate fee award. The court concluded that the district court’s discount of the lodestar for lack of success was not erroneous because the district court concisely and clearly explained its reduction of the lodestar, and because there was sufficient support for its finding that plaintiffs' claims were related to a common goal. The court agreed that the district court likely overstated its monetary valuation of the settlement. But where, as here, classwide benefits are not easily monetized, a cross-check is entirely discretionary. The court vacated the fee order and remanded.