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In re Community Bank of Northern Virginia

This appeal arose from the questionable settlement of a predatory mortgage lending class action. On behalf of clients seeking to opt out of the settlement, we argued that the district court’s decision to abrogate those class members’ opt-out requests, and its gag order effectively preventing the lawyer from advising his clients, violated both Rule 23 and due process; that the district court’s restriction on the lawyer’s future communications with his clients violated the First Amendment; and that the district court abused its discretion in approving a class action settlement that released, without any compensation, valuable claims under the Home Ownership and Equity Protection Act (HOEPA) and Truth in Lending Act (TILA).

On August 11, 2005, the Third Circuit reversed, finding that the district court abused its discretion in adopting the settling parties’ proposed order without any independent analysis; that the district court’s order invalidating the opt-out requests was improper; and that the settlement raised serious questions about the adequacy of class representation.