The Ninth Circuit’s recent decision in Sonner v. Schwabe N. Am., Inc. et al., 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
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
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
On Tuesday, the Supreme Court decided to review a case that potentially carries far reaching ramifications for litigation under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”), which places restrictions on phone and fax solicitations and imposes serious penalties for violations. See 47 U.S.C. § 227, et seq. By granting certiorari in PDR Network, LLC v. Carlton & Harris Chiropractic, Inc., No. 17-1705, the Court is set to resolve the question whether the Hobbs Act requires district courts to accept the FCC’s interpretation of the TCPA’s key statutory term “advertisement.” Continue Reading
Class action plaintiffs’ attorneys may argue that a recent ruling by the Ninth Circuit expands the scope of liability under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”) to include calls or text messages sent on all modern telephone equipment, including personal smartphones. Marks v. Crunch San Diego, LLC, 904 F.3d 1041 (9th Cir. Sept. 20, 2018).
In Durnford v. MusclePharm Corp., plaintiff Durnford asserted that the company’s “Arnold Schwarzenegger Series Iron Mass” supplements are falsely labeled because the protein content of the supplements is misstated. Durnford brought claims under California’s Unfair Competition Law (“UCL”), False Advertising Law (“FAL”) Consumer Legal Remedies Act (“CLRA”) and for breach of express warranty. The district court dismissed these claims, finding them preempted by federal law. However, the Ninth Circuit affirmed in part and reversed in part the district court’s dismissal of Durnford’s claims effectively reviving them, albeit on a narrower basis. Durnford v. MusclePharm Corp., No. 16-15374, __ F.3d __ (9th Cir. 2018), 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 28771. Continue Reading
Companies may be inclined to offer “coupons” or similar benefits to settle consumer class actions. While offering coupons is permissible, in In re Easysaver Rewards Litigation, No. 16-56307, 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 28000 (9th Cir. Oct. 3, 2018), the Ninth Circuit has reaffirmed that the full face value of coupons cannot be included when calculating the total value of the settlement, which may reduce the attorneys’ fees awarded to Plaintiffs’ class counsel. Continue Reading
In a recent decision, the California Court of Appeal reaffirmed and clarified how the “reasonable consumer” standard must be applied at the pleadings stage to mislabeling claims. In simplest terms, if the packaging makes a definitive statement on the front that suggests one thing, but fine print on the back contradicts that statement, the defendant cannot rely on the fine print to escape a mislabeling claim. In reaching that conclusion, however, the Court of Appeal appears to have laid a roadmap for how to defeat class certification. Continue Reading
The ruling in Lanovaz v. Twinings N. Am., Inc., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 15248 (9th Cir. June 6, 2018), settles what was arguably an open issue among district courts within the Ninth Circuit. A plaintiff must have an intent to re-purchase a product alleged to be falsely advertised in order to maintain an action for injunctive relief.
Twinings’ labels on its green, black, and white tea products stated that the teas were a “Natural Source of Antioxidants”. Plaintiff Lanovaz asserted that the labels amounted to “nutrient content claims,” which are regulated by the FDA (the term “antioxidant” is also subject to regulation). The plaintiff alleged that Twinings’ labels did not satisfy FDA regulations, and therefore were unlawful, misleading consumers. Continue Reading
On May 21, 2018, the United States Supreme Court upheld the legality of arbitration agreements containing class action waivers. In a 5-4 decision written by Justice Gorsuch, the Court held that arbitration agreements providing for individualized proceedings were valid, and neither the Federal Arbitration Act’s (“FAA”) savings clause, nor the National Labor Relations Act (“NLRA”) suggest otherwise. Continue Reading