TikTok Inc. has opposed a “mass motion” filed on behalf of 2,254 individuals wishing to opt out of the $92 million settlement. Wednesday’s filing argues that the requests were properly turned away by the settlement administrator as class members were solicited using deceptive advertising and, moreover, the “en masse” request violates an express provision of the settlement agreement.
The Chicago, Ill. court overseeing the multidistrict litigation against TikTok for alleged user privacy violations gave the preliminary nod to the parties’ settlement last September. Since then, some individuals have filed opt-out petitions while others have objected to the settlement. In addition, plaintiffs’ counsel recently petitioned for approval of their 33.33% fee award, drawing the ire of some class members.
Now, TikTok is responding to a motion filed on behalf of the 2,254 individuals, asking the court to override the administrator’s decision rejecting their exclusion requests.
According to the opposition, a mass opt-out occurs when “numerous individual opt-outs are solicited and submitted jointly as part of a coordinated campaign by the same law firm or group of firms.” This type of exclusion request is expressly barred by a provision of the settlement agreement, explaining why the administrator rejected the 2,254 claims as “facially invalid,” the filing contends.
TikTok says that though the administrator did not conduct an individualized review to assess whether the opt-outs otherwise complied with exclusion requirements, its review revealed that more than one thousand of them are individually defective for various reasons.
For one, the opposition says that the opt-outs were solicited en masse by non-settling lawyers who showed class members one-sided and misleading claims in order to gain their signature. TikTok points to case law holding that courts routinely reject such mass opt-outs for improperly seeking to disrupt the Rule 23 class action process and the court-approved class settlement.
In addition, the defendant argues that some individual opt-out claims contain missing information and worse yet, fictitious information, such as a “demonstrably fictitious phone number made up entirely of the number ‘5.’”
The opposition concludes by noting that TikTok does not object to providing a reasonable time period for the 2,254 individuals to participate in the settlement “because class members may have been victims of the law firms that solicited their opt-outs en masse.”