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Pesky attorney faces fine in Prudential settlement

Michael P. Malakoff, a New Jersey attorney who last year tried to challenge Prudential Insurance Co.'s massive class-action settlement, faces a stiff fine for instigating delays that dragged out court proceedings.

Malakoff had filed an appeal against the Prudential settlement, alleging that the U.S. District court in New Jersey didn't have jurisdiction over the case and that the lawyers for the class stood to reap outrageous fees (some $90 million, according to Malakoff). A federal judge last week issued a report that recommended "stern sanctions" for the delays caused by Malakoff's failed appeal. Malakoff had filed 24 motions and had also sought to have Judge Alfred Wolin removed from the case.

Prudential was sued for fraudulent sales practices and a process known as "churning." The company has set aside $2.6 billion in anticipation of settlement payments.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Joel A. Pisano recommended that Malakoff pay $100,000 to the attorneys for the policyholders who are covered in the settlement, saying Malakoff's "incessant struggle with attorneys and the court caused colossal time delays and monumental obstacles to the orderly settlement of this action."

Malakoff is planning to file an objection to the report.

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