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Anna McLean is a partner in the Business Trial Practice Group. She is a Leader of the firm’s Class Action Defense Team.

In the recently published decision Dennis v. Kellogg Company, No. 11-55674, 2012 WL 2870128 (9th Cir. July 13, 2012), the Ninth Circuit reversed the district court’s approval of a purported $10.64 million settlement between defendant Kellogg and a class of consumers alleging false advertising. The Ninth Circuit rejected the settlement for three reasons: (1) the District Court did not apply the correct legal standard in evaluating the proposed cy pres charities that were to be the recipients of the settlement funds, and thereby abused its discretion; (2) the settlement failed to name the charities that would receive cy pres donations; and (3) the District Court’s award of $2 million in attorneys’ fees, the maximum amount Kellogg had agreed not to oppose, was excessive.
Continue Reading Ninth Circuit rejects class action settlement, clarifies standards for cy pres remedies and plaintiff counsel’s attorneys’ fees

The California Court of Appeal for the Fourth Appellate District recently added to the growing jurisprudence interpreting the scope and effect of In re Tobacco II Cases (2009) 46 Cal.4th 298 in its decision last month in Sevidal v. Target Corp. (Case No. D056206, Oct. 29, 2010) __ Cal.App.4th __.  Following a trend of other California appellate courts, including the Second Appellate District in Pfizer v. Superior Court (2010) 182 Cal.App.4th 622, Target stands for the proposition that Tobacco II applies only to standing, and does not change the requirements for class certification under California’s Unfair Competition Law (“UCL”). The Target court upheld the lower court’s decision denying class certification, holding that Tobacco II‘s limitation of traditional reliance and causation standing requirements to the named plaintiff in certain cases brought under the UCL does not eliminate the need for absent class members to establish that they were affected by the allegedly unfair practice in order to meet class certification requirements.
Continue Reading California Court of Appeal Continues the Trend of Limiting Tobacco II

After years of growth, the Federal Arbitration Act (“FAA”), and numerous court decisions emphasizing the strong public policy in favor of arbitration as a cost-effective means of resolving disputes, arbitration now appears to be under siege—particularly in the consumer context.  Many consumer contracts, including those involving cellular phones, credit cards, and other consumer finance products, such as automobile retail installment contracts, contain mandatory arbitration provisions requiring consumers to resolve any disputes through arbitration rather than through the courts. In many cases, these contracts have attempted to establish arbitration an alternative to the high cost, slow pace, and uncertainty of class action litigation. Now consumer arbitration itself has become the focus of public entity investigations and class action lawsuits. Ultimately, consumer arbitration will likely survive, perhaps with new guidelines and consistent rules governing the process so companies know when their arbitration agreements will be enforced.
Continue Reading The Recent Assault on Consumer Arbitration Clauses