Supreme Court of Alaska (2022)
In Triem v. Kake Tribal Corp., 513 P.3d 994 (Alaska 2022), the supreme court held that a former class action representative and former class attorney did not have standing to appeal debt forgiveness motions in a separate but related class action. (Id. at 996). In the first class action case, the superior court awarded damages, costs, and attorneys’ fees to the Hanson class. (Id. at 995–96). In a second class action against the same corporation, the Martin class agreed to a settlement including payments to class members, attorneys’ fees, and costs. (Id. at 996). In 2001, the defendant corporation filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. (Id.). In 2017, the attorney and class representative for the Hanson class were replaced with new representatives and counsel. (Id.). In light of the bankruptcy filing, both the Hanson and the Martin classes voted to relieve the corporation of any outstanding debt owed to the classes. (Id.). In response, the former attorney for the Hanson class moved to enforce the judgment in favor of the Hanson class, instead of forgiving the debt. (Id.). The superior court denied this motion and approved the vote for debt forgiveness for both classes. (Id.). Both the former attorney and former class plaintiff for the Hanson class appealed the orders in both cases. (Id.). The former Hanson class representative lacked standing, because he could not point to any personal adverse effect from the Martin class’s settlement. (Id. at 997). Notably, the former Hanson class representative was never a member of the Martin class, and he could not assert injury on behalf of a class of which he was not a member. (Id.). Additionally, the former Hanson attorney could not establish any personal adverse effects from the outcome of the Martin class settlement. (Id.). However, the court invited additional briefings on whether the Hanson class’s vote to relieve the debt was properly conducted. (Id. at 998–99). Accordingly, the supreme court held that the former class action representative and former class attorney did not have standing to appeal debt forgiveness motions in a separate but related class action. (Id. at 996).