California Class Action

In Laffitte v. Robert Half International Inc., No. S222996 (Aug. 11, 2016), the California Supreme Court held, in an employment class action lawsuit, that when attorney fees are awarded to class counsel from a common fund, that the award is not per se unreasonable because it is calculated as a percentage of the common fund, as opposed to pursuant to a lodestar calculation.
Continue Reading California Supreme Court Approves Attorney Fee Awards Calculated Based Upon Percentage of Class Action Common Fund

Not all class action allegations are created equal. Certain types of claims are more likely to be amenable to class treatment – generally those involving uniform policies that result in uniform injuries; other claims seem destined for individualized treatment – generally those involving a variety of unpredictable factors that determine liability as to each putative class member.  And some class claims, due to their very nature, are so individualized that the class allegations should be dismissed on the pleadings.  Indeed, the California court of appeal recently reminded us that some class allegations deserve dismissal on demurrer.  The case is Schermer v. Tatum, D067807 (Cal. App. 4th Dis. Mar. 18, 2016).
Continue Reading Attacking Class Action Allegations On The Pleadings Can Be A Successful Strategy

Another lawsuit alleging illegal gambling in a social game has been dismissed.  Over the last year, social gaming mobile applications have come under attack from the Plaintiffs’ bar as gambling in disguise.  Plaintiffs’ attorneys theorize that in-app micro-transactions where consumers pay cash for virtual items (i.e., gold coins or gems) designed to speed up or otherwise enhance gameplay are, in effect, wagers insofar as other in-game materials can subsequently be “won” with those items.  None of the plaintiffs have prevailed in these recent cases.
Continue Reading The Game Goes On: Sheppard Mullin Obtains Dismissal With Prejudice of Class Action Alleging Social Gaming Micro-transactions Constitute Illegal Gambling

Over the last six months, at least four putative class actions have been filed under the Biometric Information Privacy Act (“BIPA”)—an obscure Illinois statute passed about seven years ago to regulate the collection and use of consumers’ biometric information.  In relevant part, the BIPA requires entities in possession of biometric information (i.e., retina scans, fingerprints, voiceprints, etc.) to retain a specific written policy governing data retention and to collect written consent from consumers before collecting biometric information.
Continue Reading Tag, You’re It: Biometric Information Privacy Act Class Action Against Shutterfly Moves Past 12(b)(6)

On August 3, 2015, the California Supreme Court issued its long-awaited arbitration decision in Sanchez v. Valencia Holding Co., LLC, No. B228027.  The Court held that the arbitration provision found in a standard form auto finance and sales contract widely used by auto dealerships and lenders throughout California is not unconscionable.  Not surprisingly, the Court acknowledged the recent U.S. Supreme Court authority holding that the Federal Arbitration Act (“FAA”) preempts conflicting state law, and affirmed that California law must now recognize the enforceability of class action waivers contained in arbitration provisions under the FAA.  Nevertheless, arbitration provisions can be rendered unenforceable, depending on a fact intensive analysis of unconscionability.  The Court refused to apply a uniform, bright-line standard.  The ruling is unlikely to stem the tide of litigation over the enforceability of arbitration provisions in high stakes class action litigation.
Continue Reading The California Supreme Court Holds Consumer Class Action Waivers In Arbitration Provisions Are Enforceable Under Federal Law

On June 23, 2015, the Ninth Circuit in Cabral v. Supple LLC, — Fed. Appx. –, 2015 WL 3855142 (9th Cir. June 23, 2015) placed a significant hurdle in the path of false advertising class actions.  Specifically, the Court held that in class actions “based upon alleged misrepresentations in advertising and the like,” in order for common questions to predominate—an essential Rule 23(b) inquiry—“it is critical that the misrepresentation in question be made to all of the class members.”
Continue Reading Ninth Circuit Reiterates that Misrepresentation Must be Made to All Class Members

In a victory for Sheppard Mullin and its client, in Trabert v. Consumer Portfolio Serv., Inc., __ Cal. App. 4th. __, 2015 WL 880949 (4th Dist. Mar. 3, 2015), the California Court of Appeal compelled arbitration and enforced a class action waiver after severing an arbitration term.
Continue Reading Court Severs Term But Otherwise Enforces Arbitration Provision With A Class Action Waiver

Back in February, the California Court of Appeal in Hataishi v. First American Home Buyers Protection Corp., 223 Cal. App. 4th 1454 (Feb. 21, 2014), dealt a significant blow to call recording class actions across California.  The Court held that plaintiffs asserting claims under California Penal Code section 632 (“Section 632”) had to establish that the telephone calls that were monitored or recorded were “confidential” – meaning that the plaintiffs had an objectively reasonable expectation that their calls were not being overheard or recorded.  Applying this standard classwide was impossible.  Each individual’s objectively reasonable expectations would turn on individualized inquiries, including the length of the class member’s experience with the defendant, whether the class member had ever been notified that her calls with the defendant may be monitored or recorded, and each class member’s experience with other businesses that record or monitor calls.  We asked then whether call recording class actions were doomed.
Continue Reading Another Blow to Call Recording Class Actions

In Morgan v. Wallaby Yogurt Co., Inc., the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California denied defendant’s motion to dismiss a class action complaint alleging violations of the UCL, FAL, and CLRA for mislabeling yogurt products, but struck plaintiffs’ prayer for injunctive relief.  The Court held that plaintiffs had standing to bring the UCL, FAL, and CLRA claims, as well as standing to prosecute claims for products the plaintiff did not purchase.  Morgan provides companies with an insight into the standing threshold for class actions challenging food product labels.
Continue Reading Court Issues Sweet Ruling for Plaintiffs in Mislabeling Action – Ignorance That “Evaporated Cane Juice” Is An Added Sugar Not “Implausible”