GBS: Mitgang, Hoffman, and Dickson Out as Plaintiffs

Also on Tuesday, Judge Chin allowed three of the six representative plaintiffs to withdraw from the case. Herbert Mitgang, Daniel Hoffman, and Paul Dickson are out; Betty Miles, Joseph Goulden, and Jim Bouton remain. I would love to know what the story behind this move is.

I do not know any of this; I’m merely inferring it on the basis of a lot of experience on the plaintiff’s side of class actions.

They don’t want to go through the instrusive discovery process that defendants’ counsel will put them through. Not only is it time-consuming and demeaning, but it will venture into seeming irrelevancies in an effort to find something that defendants’ counsel can wave in front of the court to demonstrate unsuitability as a class representative. That most of these objections are, or at least should be, foreclosed by the standard established in Surowitz is beside the point; they happen anyway. For an example of “how things are done” in the Second Circuit, consider Rivera v. Fair Chevrolet Geo Partnership, 165 F.R.D. 361, 366 (D. Conn. 1996) (in which I was plaintiff’s counsel) and other opinions in that matter.

Frankly, I can’t say I blame them. That intrusiveness would not have occurred in the settlement context. They’ve all got better things to do than sift through their lives for every document in every legal matter they’ve ever been involved in, or sit through sixteen hours of depositions in which a 30-year-old-ish litigation associate will grill them on irrelevant minutiae and implicitly question their intelligence, etc. Then, too, none of those who withdrew are exactly spring chickens… a factor that plaintiff’s counsel should have paid more attention to when designating them as class representatives in the first place, but that’s water under the bridge at this stage.

Paul Dickson here. I am still very much with and in favor of the lawsuit; but because of two serious illnesses in my family I did not have the time to respond to requests for information or give a disposition. I was told that Jim was, in essence, taking my place. Hope this is useful. Paul

It is helpful. Thanks, Paul. And please accept my sympathies for you and your family.