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Continued: Whistleblower: De Beers diamond price-fixing settlement may soon pay off for buyers

  • Article by: JANE FRIEDMANN , Star Tribune
  • Last update: May 22, 2013 - 9:03 AM

Appeals were ‘frivolous’

The settlement didn’t end the litigation, however.

“The money should have been in the consumers’ hands years ago,” Fastiff said. “But there are unscrupulous lawyers who are trying to extort money by filing these frivolous objections and we refused to pay them off ... [to make them] go away.”

Second, there was the refund calculation process that Fastiff said Rust was hesitant to undertake before the appeals concluded. It took until April to nail down the details for the 551,909 consumer claimants.

Sharing with the whole class

The settlement was divided among three groups. Those who bought directly from De Beers were apportioned $22.5 million; $137.1 million went to 6,190 jewelry stores and other middlemen; and $135.4 million was designated to pay the claims for consumers who paid a total of more than $2 billion for diamonds and diamond jewelry over a 22-year period.

Fees charged for 39,000 hours of work done by 18 law firms took 25 percent off the top of each pool. Interest that accumulated as the money sat in escrow was added back in.

Subtracting attorney expenses, payments to top plaintiffs and more than $900,000 to Rust, the average payout to consumers will be $180.75, according to a memorandum submitted to the court. Michaels paid $18,000 for the jewelry she included on her claim form, but her refund will be based on just the diamonds themselves.

What is Michaels going to do with the money when she finally gets it? She said she now receives Social Security and makes a little side money working the meat raffle and the pulltab booth at Schooner Tavern in Minneapolis. She sold some of her jewelry just to get by.

“I said to those people at Rust Consulting that even if I only get $200, you know what I’m going to do with that $200? I’m going to Rainbow.”

 

Jane Friedmann • 612-673-7852

 

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