A small twist yesterday in the impending class action lawsuit by a group of former unpaid interns against Cayman island-based, champions of the oppressed, Gawker Media. David Matthews, one of the interns involved, has decided to drop out of the suit, giving up his right to take further action against Gawker or its founder, Nick Denton.
The move seemed to come as a surprise even to the judge, who sent a stern reminder (embedded below) to both parties that any settlement of the suit must be submitted to the court for approval. In response, Gawker’s attorneys, Proskauer Rose LLP, wrote to the judge insisting that, not only had there been no settlement with Matthews, but that there hadn’t even been a discussion about a settlement:
Further, there is no settlement: Gawker has not agreed to pay Mr. Matthews anything, and denies liability to Mr. Matthews, having provided him with a valuable and lawful internship experience. Nor was the stipulation the product of any settlement discussions between counsel; Mr. Matthews simply has decided, for his own reasons and without any promise or coercion from Gawker, to dismiss his claims. Plaintiffs’ counsel approached Gawker’s counsel unsolicited to ask that Gawker assent to that dismissal, and Gawker agreed to that request on the condition that the dismissal was approved by the Court…
Moreover, Gawker’s legal team seems determined to continue fighting the case:
This case will continue, and while Gawker maintains that this action is not suitable for class or collective certification, dismissal of Mr. Matthews’ claims should have no bearing on the pending certification questions, nor diminish the claims that may be asserted either individually or collectively by any other former Gawker intern.
The loss of Matthews as a plaintiff isn’t a particularly significant development in the suit. Matthews wasn’t one of the initial plaintiffs in the case, but rather was added as a proposed “class representative” after the initial filing. Matthews, who ironically used to manage an “intern horrors” section on Gawker’s Deadspin sports site, has since taken a job as an Associate Producer at Yahoo.
Aulistar Mark, Hanchen Lu and Andrew Hudson, the original plaintiffs, are continuing their claim against the company, and Denton. Pando contacted Matthews’ attorney, Andrea Papaparella at Liddle and Robinson, for comment (12+ hours ago) but had not received a response by publication time.