Supreme Court Punts On Whether FCC’s Interpretation of the TCPA Binds Federal Courts

At the end of the Supreme Court’s most recent term, the Court released its long-awaited ruling in PDR Network, LLC v. Carlton & Harris Chiropractic, Inc., 139 S. Ct. 2051 (June 20, 2019)—a case that could have carried far-reaching ramifications for Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”) litigation nationwide. The Supreme Court granted review to consider whether the Administrative Orders Review Act (also known as the Hobbs Act), 28 U.S.C. § 2342(1), requires district courts to accept the FCC’s legal interpretation of the statutory term “unsolicited advertisement” under the TCPA. Continue Reading

One “Chirp, Buzz, Or Blink” Is Not Enough To Sue Under The TCPA

A recent decision by the Eleventh Circuit will make it more difficult for plaintiffs to establish standing to sue under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA).  In Salcedo v. Hanna, et al., Case No. 17-14077, 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 25967 (11th Cir. Aug. 28, 2019), the Eleventh Circuit ruled that a single text message did not cause sufficient harm to sue in federal court.  As a result, “single text message” TCPA cases may be a thing of the past, at least in the federal courts across the three States in the Eleventh Circuit (Florida, Georgia, and Alabama).  However, given conflict with a ruling by the Ninth Circuit, the issue may now be ripe for decision by the U.S. Supreme Court. Continue Reading

Choose Your Forum Wisely: Save Your Arbitration Clause From California’s Prohibition on Pre-Dispute Waivers of a Plaintiff’s Right to Seek Public Injunctive Relief

The U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in AT&T Mobility v. Concepcion, 563 U.S. 333 (2011) caused a shockwave in California’s class action bar when it held that the Federal Arbitration Act (“FAA”) preempted California’s former Discover Bank rule prohibiting arbitration clauses in consumer contracts from including a pre-dispute waiver of a plaintiff’s right to seek class action relief. After the decision in Concepcion, mandatory arbitration and corresponding class action waivers became the norm in consumer contracts. Many of the arbitration clauses in these consumer agreements, however, also included language prohibiting the plaintiff from obtaining relief for anyone other than the plaintiff. Courts interpreted this language as a pre-dispute waiver of a plaintiff’s right to seek “public injunctive relief” (i.e. injunctive relief that has the primary purpose and effect of prohibiting acts that threaten future injury to the general public) under California’s consumer protection statutes. Recent decisions by the California Supreme Court and the Ninth Circuit, however, confirm that a plaintiff cannot waive his or her right to seek public injunctive relief under California’s consumer statutes. Consumer-focused businesses that include arbitration clauses in their account agreements should reevaluate their arbitration clauses in light of California’s prohibition on the waiver of a plaintiff’s right to seek public injunctive relief. Continue Reading

Spate of Recent False Advertising Class Actions Take On Animal Treatment Label Claims

In the last few months, a handful of class actions have been filed challenging label claims regarding the treatment of the animals providing the food item in question. This appears to be a new food litigation trend, as plaintiffs’ attorneys invoke the purchasing public’s apparent concern for “clean”, “pure”, “healthy”, and “organic” food items. Continue Reading

Lack of Standing Dooms Organizational Plaintiffs’ False Advertising Claims; Such a Challenge Can Be Brought at Any Time

Challenges based on lack of standing can be brought at any time and, in Friends of the Earth v. Sanderson Farms, Inc., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 127964 (N.D. Cal. July 31, 2019), the court dismissed a putative class action for lack of standing pursuant to Rule 12(h)(3) after Plaintiffs supplemented discovery responses and depositions were taken. Although it had earlier denied motions to dismiss brought pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), the district court concluded that Plaintiffs failed to produce evidence in discovery to establish their injury in fact and, accordingly, lacked standing under Article III.   Continue Reading

Ninth Circuit Fuels More Efficient Nationwide Class Settlement

Reversing itself in a 7-4 en banc decision, the Ninth Circuit reinstated a $210 million settlement in multidistrict class action litigation over the advertised fuel efficiency of Hyundai and Kia vehicles, making approval of nationwide class action settlements easier. In re Hyundai and Kia Fuel Economy Litigation, 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 17047 at *5 (9th Cir. 2019). In its decision, the Ninth Circuit applied a lower standard to Rule 23(b)(3) predominance analysis in the settlement context—as opposed to a contested class certification motion—for issues of choice-of-law and reliance under state consumer protection statutes. Judge Ikuta argues in dissent that this may not be consistent with controlling Supreme Court precedent, Amchem Prods., Inc. v. Windsor, 521 U.S. 591, 623 (1997). Continue Reading

Second Circuit Affirms “Snap” Removal Practice

Earlier this week, a Second Circuit panel resolved a sharp disagreement among district courts regarding the interpretation of the forum defendant rule in the context of a multi-district litigation (“MDL”) involving dozens of product liability lawsuits against the makers of the blood-thinning medication Eliquis.

In Gibbons v. Bristol-Myers Squibb Co., ___ F.3d ___, 2019 WL 1339013 (2d Cir. March 26, 2019), the court unanimously affirmed the district court’s holding that 33 cases were properly removed to federal court and that the claims were impliedly preempted by FDA labeling rules. Continue Reading

Ninth Circuit Confirms Plaintiffs Are Not Required to Undermine Defendant’s Evidence to Withstand Summary Judgment in False Labeling Class Actions

The Ninth Circuit’s recent decision in Sonner v. Schwabe N. Am., Inc. et al.,[1] resolves a split among district courts evaluating the standard that applies to false labeling claims brought under California’s Unfair Competition Law and Consumers Legal Remedies Act on summary judgment. The Ninth Circuit confirmed that plaintiffs can survive summary judgment by supplying a conflicting expert report, invalidating a line of cases that required plaintiff’s expert to also entirely undermine defendant’s expert. Continue Reading

Northern District Releases Guidance for Class Action Settlements

This article originally appeared in the Los Angeles Daily Journal and San Francisco Daily Journal on November 28, 2018.

The Northern District of California comprehensively updated its Procedural Guidance for Class Action Settlements on Nov. 1, 2018, requiring increased disclosures for preliminary and final settlement approvals, and more transparency in post-distribution accounting. Failure to follow the guidance may result in delay or denial of settlement approval. Federal class action lawyers should be aware of the updated settlement approval rules in the Northern District of California, one of the busiest and most influential districts for class action litigation. Continue Reading

Ninth Circuit Panel Affirms Inadmissibility Alone is Not a Proper Basis to Reject Evidence in Support of Class Certification

Following the denial of a petition for rehearing en banc, over a spirited dissent, a Ninth Circuit panel issued its amended order on November 27, 2018 in Sali v. Corona Regional Medical Center, holding that evidence need not be admissible to be considered at the class certification stage. The panel held: “Inadmissibility alone is not a proper basis to reject evidence in support of class certification.”  Continue Reading

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