After a delay of more than a year, the settlement of the De Beers class action law suit is finally moving forward. On December 20, 2011, the En Banc Panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals of the Third Circuit in Philadelphia overturned an earlier decision to reject the $295 million De Beers settlement.
While the ruling was an important step toward payment of claims, an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court -- the last resort for objectors -- would cause further delays.
The class actions alleged that De Beers conspired to fix diamond prices, among other charges. While De Beers denied the allegations, the company decided to settle to avoid the expense and burden of litigation. The De Beers class action settlement was initially approved in May of 2008.
Payments & Timing: What to Expect
Jewelers of America advises members to keep expectations for themselves and consumers in check regarding the timing or size of payments.
In terms of timing, even if there are no further challenges to the settlement, claimants are unlikely to see payments soon. According to the Jewelers Vigilance Committee (JVC), the administrative process can take a year or more.
As for payments, if asked, remind customers that the amount that any individual could eventually receive depends on the amount of the claim itself, and how that compares to the total number of claims filed in the consumer class. Consumers and jewelers are in separate sub-classes and the settlement fund has been divided between them, so the total number of jewelers’ claims will have no impact on how much individual consumers recover.
For more information, visit the De Beers Settlement website.