Tag Archives: class action

The Worst Supreme Court Cases Of 2013 For Consumers, Employees, And Patients

Back in January 2012, I posted a short item titled, Supreme Court Sets The Tone For 2012 Term: Might Makes Right, in which I recounted how the Supreme Court had begun the 2011-2012 term with two opinions that were great if you own a prison management company or fake credit repair company, but not so great if you were injured by a private prison’s malfeasance or defrauded by a consumer credit company.   The rest of that term went as expected, with opinions knocking our various discrimination plaintiffs (Hosanna-Tabor Church v. EEOC), mesothelioma victims (Kurns v. Railroad Friction Products) and ... Continue Reading

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Cleaning Up The Supreme Court’s Newest Class Action Mess, Comcast v. Behrend

As Judge Posner remarked, “only a lunatic or a fanatic sues for $30,” Carnegie v. Household Int’l, Inc., 376 F.3d 656 (7th Cir. 2004), and that’s because it costs money to seek civil justice. For all the complaints by corporate defendants about the “rising costs of litigation,” those costs are just as frequently — perhaps more frequently — borne by plaintiffs. I’ve had individual wrongful death cases that required hundreds of thousands of dollars in litigation expenses alone, not including attorney and paralegal time.   Here in Philadelphia, the tallest building by far is the Comcast Center, built in part ... Continue Reading

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Why Civil Defendants Want To Be In Federal Court: Judicial Vacancies

Today the Supreme Court holds oral arguments in Standard Fire v. Knowles, a Class Action Fairness Act (CAFA) case. According to the defendant, an insurance company, the case involves plaintiffs' attorneys “manipulating their complaints to evade federal diversity jurisdiction” by stipulating to the class recovering less than $5,000,000, the CAFA threshold that allows defendants to remove class actions from state court to federal court. According to the plaintiff, an Arkansas homeowner who alleges the insurance company routinely failed to pay for general contractors’ bills in home repairs, the issue here is just another example of the 70-year-old rule that a ... Continue Reading

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Perdue v. Kenny A. Keeps On Punishing Class Action Lawyers

I complained back when the Supreme Court's Perdue v. Kenny A. opinion first came out more than a year ago, knocking down attorney's fees awarded to a set of extraordinary children's rights lawyers: It’s no stretch to say those lawyers single-handedly reformed the foster care system in metropolitan Atlanta. And they did that by spending their own money and putting in their own time, with no guarantee they would recoup any of their out-of-pocket costs, much less get paid a fee for their services. Had they been paid by the hour as they went along, their services would have been ... Continue Reading

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Philosophy Explains How Legal Ethics Turn Lawyers Into Liars

I am a fan of the American court system. There is no natural law requiring people to resolve their differences by asking third parties to represent them and advocate on their behalf in front of impartial decision-makers. The folks in classical Athens and Rome thought it was a good idea, the Europeans rediscovered the practice in the Middle Ages, and the adversarial system of law has been consistently practiced by England, and then America, ever since.   Since the classical time, there have always been restrictions on lawyers intended to keep them honest. Most of those "restrictions" have amounted to ... Continue Reading

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The Potential Upside for Class Action Plaintiffs In The Dukes v. Wal-Mart Certiorari

At Blawgletter: The U.S. Supreme Court today granted review of a Ninth Circuit ruling that allowed a class of California women to pursue sex discrimination claims against Walmart.  Of course, if you're reading this legal blog, you probably already knew that. So let's dive a bit deeper, per Blawgletter: The Court both limited and expanded review.  Walmart's petition presented two questions, only the first of which the Court will address: I.  Whether claims for monetary relief can be certified under Federal Rule of Civil Procedures 23(b)(2) -- which by its terms is limited to injunctive or corresponding declaratory relief -- ... Continue Reading

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Chevron Allowed To Depose Plaintiff’s Counsel In Ecuador Toxic Tort Litigation

At The American Lawyer: A federal judge in Manhattan has taken the extraordinary step of granting Chevron's motion to depose a counsel for its adversaries in the massive toxic tort litigation over oil contamination in Lago Agrio, Ecuador. ... Kaplan based his ruling on evidence Chevron produced from outtakes of the documentary "Crude," which chronicles the Lago Agrio case. He called the outtakes "extraordinarily revealing." "The outtakes contain substantial evidence that Donziger and others were involved in ex parte contacts with the court to obtain appointment of the expert; met secretly with the supposedly neutral and impartial expert prior to ... Continue Reading

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Sheet Metal Workers v. GlaxoSmithKline: How To Use State Consumer Fraud Laws To Bring Indirect Purchaser Antitrust Class Actions

[UPDATE: Drug and Device Law goes Jersey Shore on me and "creates a situation," as they say. I replied in the comments there, although my comment seems to disappear at times. Perhaps their commenting/moderating software is as frustrating and difficult as mine. I've cut and pasted my comment below the fold here.] I've discussed the problems with the Illinois Brick decision before. In short, since "indirect purchasers" cannot bring federal antitrust claims — even if they were injured by antitrust violations — "indirect purchasers" like third-party payors and retailers have to resort to state law. It is not uncommon to see lawsuits ... Continue Reading

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Ready, Fire, Aim: A Lesson In Bad Legal Writing From The Lowe’s Drywall Class Action Settlement Kerfuffle

The internet has not been pleased with the proposed settlement reached between Lowe's — which denies ever selling any tainted Chinese drywall — and the plaintiff's attorneys in a Georgia state court class action. There's two problems with the proposed settlement, which has not yet been approved by a judge. First, the settlement is a dreaded coupon settlement (i.e., a settlement in which the plaintiffs get only coupons or vouchers to buy more stuff from the defendant), one that will use particularly unreliable notice procedures for letting potential class members know about the settlement. For more, see ProPublica and the ... Continue Reading

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Ford Takes The Lead In Assaulting Consumers And Small Businesses Via The National Chamber Litigation Center

The Blog of the Legal Times reported yesterday: David Leitch, the general counsel of Ford Motor Co., is the new chairman of the board of directors of the National Chamber Litigation Center. Leitch succeeds James Comey, who until recently was senior vice president and general counsel of Lockheed Martin Corp. And what is "the National Chamber Litigation Center," you ask? It's the litigation arm of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, one of the most loathsome enterprises in the nation: I asked [U.S. Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Tom] Donohue what, exactly, the Chamber does. “Two fundamental things,” he replied. “We’re advocates. ... Continue Reading

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