Plaintiffs’ lawyer-turned-professor Morris Ratner has published a new article on making litigation costs a profit center for class action plaintiffs. You may remember he wrote about this issue before with Professor William Rubinstein.  This new article, titled Class Counsel as Litigation Funders, makes it clearer that he isn’t talking so much about allowing plaintiffs’ counsel to charge a markup on photocopies as he is trying to establish parity between the lawyers who fund a case by fronting the costs and the lawyers who work a case. (Remember, in larger cases, many lawyers are required by co-counsel to contribute to Continue Reading

After years in the class action defense bar, I’ve learned that few things will get the average non-lawyer to think I’m doing God’s work more than talking about class action attorneys’ fees. The general consensus is that while all lawyers overcharge their clients, class action lawyers do it more–and more spectacularly–than most.

And that’s why it’s so surprising to read a recent article for the DePaul Law Review from law professors Morris A. Ratner and William B. Rubenstein titled Profit for Costs, which argues that, in addition to attorneys’ fees, class action plaintiffs’ lawyers should be allowed to mark Continue Reading

I saw my first copyrighted class action complaint more than a decade ago. It seemed odd even then. The reason for the copyright was clear, even to a new lawyer like myself: it was to deter copycat class actions, where the new plaintiff just files the same complaint his rival wrote. (Plaintiffs’ greatest adversaries are often each other.) But there was always the nagging question: will any plaintiff’s counsel ever be so foolhardy as to try to enforce her copyright?

A case from the Second Circuit, Unclaimed Property Recovery Service, Inc. v. Kaplan answers that question with a resounding … Continue Reading

Earlier this year, Professor Arthur Miller published a summary of developments in civil procedure over the last several years, entitled Simplified Pleading, Meaningful Days in Court, and Trials on the Merits: Reflections on the Deformation of Federal Procedure.

Professor Miller is one of the giants of civil procedure. He may or may not have been the hard-nosed Professor Perini in Scott Turow’s memoir One-L. He was, for a select generation of us Bostonians, the host of legal affairs show Miller’s Court

But he’s also the head of Milberg LLP’s appellate practice. And he wears his plaintiff-side … Continue Reading

 Two plaintiffs’ firms filed nearly identical class actions against a dietary supplement company, alleging that one of its weight loss supplement didn’t work. The cases were filed within two weeks of each other, one in federal court (Branca v. Iovate Health Sciences USA, Inc.), and one in California state court (Garcia v. Iovate Health Sciences USA, Inc.). Shortly thereafter, the defendant filed a motion to stay in the federal case, because it had settled the case in state court.

So far, this was all just run-of-the-mill procedural maneuvering. So why make it the subject of … Continue Reading

 This week, the class action bar and legal blogs have been abuzz with the news that famed plaintiffs’ lawyer Stanley Chesley has been disbarred by the Kentucky Supreme Court, a development that will likely lead to his disbarment in his home state of Ohio as well. (PDF of opinion here.)

In the course of laying out its background facts, the opinion confirms several plaintiff firm practices I’ve documented in the past. Among them:

  • Filing on top of other plaintiffs. Chesley’s initial involvement with the case came when he was hired to consult on a national settlement. After
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 So the small corner of the legal world that includes class action lawyers is up in arms this week because Jon King, formerly of Hausfeld LLP, has filed a wrongful termination complaint against his former employer, alleging that he was fired because he complained about ethical conflicts at the firm.

Hausfeld LLP is run by Michael Hausfeld, who has a larger than life reputation. And the complaint certainly contains its share of juicy allegations (Hausfeld LLP tried to spy on its landlord?), although, as Alison Frankel notes, portions of it read more as King’s attempt to … Continue Reading

In 1998, the class action plaintiffs’ firm Milberg Weiss filed sued Computer Associates for violating the federal securities laws by lying about its revenues in order to increase its stock price. In a perfectly unremarkable development, it was appointed co-lead counsel of the consolidated class. (Various firms had filed a total of eleven complaints.) Over the next four years, the pressure on Computer Associates mounted. Thirteen more complaints were filed, and the US Attorney’s office (EDNY) and SEC launched a joint investigation of the firm.

So Computer Associates decided to settle the case. After seven months of mediation with … Continue Reading

There is a common perception in complex litigation (not to mention litigation generally) that time favors the defendant. Defendants often counsel clients not to react too quickly: situations that may provoke a fight-or-flight response in the moment often present more strategic opportunities as they unfold. And plaintiffs tend to agree; they often complain that defendants’ primary strategy is just to delay litigation for as long as possible.

But is there any basis for this assumption? After all, there are definite cases–like the motion to strike class allegations, or when plaintiffs try to change their theory late in the litigationContinue Reading

 I’ve spent a lot of time over the last two years poking (as best I can) into the head of the entrepreneurial plaintiff’s lawyer. That is, the plaintiff’s lawyer that treats her lawsuits like business opportunities, keeping a diversified portfolio and working to maximize the profit from each opportunity. But there is another kind of lawyer that brings class actions, one often referred to as the "cause lawyer." Rather than working for profit, this group is motivated by a desire for social change. Cause lawyers are rarer in class action practice, but they’re not nonexistent. So, how does the … Continue Reading