On May 16, 2016, the U.S. Supreme Court held in Spokeo, Inc. v. Robins that a bare procedural violation of a statutory requirement, divorced from any concrete harm, does not establish the injury-in-fact necessary to maintain a lawsuit in federal court.  The Court acknowledged, however, that an alleged violation of a procedural statutory right could establish the requisite concrete injury if the violation creates “a risk of real harm.”

The Supreme Court’s ruling has been much anticipated by both sides of the class-action bar. All interested parties must continue to watch and wait, it appears, as the Ninth Circuit will … Continue Reading

Expectations were high in the class action world for the Supreme Court’s recent decision in Tyson Foods, Inc. v. Bouaphakeo.  At first blush, however, Tyson seems to be neither the test case nor the blockbuster decision that many expected it to be, leaving important questions about predominance of class issues and individual proof of injury for another day.

The Court’s deferral of these questions can be chalked up, at least in part, to the nature of the case itself, in which employees at a pork processing plant in Iowa claimed they had not received overtime pay for time spent … Continue Reading

As you probably know, on Wednesday, the Supreme Court finally issued its long-awaited opinion in Campbell-Ewald Co. v. Gomez.  Tammy Adkins & Helen Arnold of McGuireWoods’s Chicago office wrote up an excellent summary, which I’m quoting below:

On January 20th, 2016, in Campbell-Ewald Co. v. Gomez, a case closely watched by both sides of the class action bar, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in an opinion authored by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg that an unaccepted Rule 68 offer of judgment did not moot the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) putative class action brought by plaintiff Jose Gomez.

Defendant

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It’s rapidly becoming conventional wisdom that Campbell-Ewald Co. v. Gomez (argued yesterday) is going to be a win for the plaintiffs.  Respected academics like Robert Klonoff have stated it, and respected reporters like Perry Cooper have quoted respected plaintiffs’ counsel like Deepak Gupta to the same effect.  But, dig a little deeper into the arguments they’re all using to justify their predictions, and it’s not quite as clear that Gomez will be decided in favor of the plaintiff.  Those arguments are:
The Court has no way to counter Justice Kagan’s dissent.  In a blunt dissent in Genesis Healthcare Continue Reading

At this point, I’m well aware that I tend to sound like an old crank when reviewing class action scholarship; much of it repeats the same old stuff, predicts the imminent demise of the class action in its current form, and looks at the same Supreme Court cases instead of digging into where the real action happens. And that is why I am happy to report that this year, there were quite a few articles that did take different approaches to various problems in class actions. Yes, we still had some of the same Supreme Court rehashes, but even some … Continue Reading

2013 did not offer the blockbuster docket in front of the Supreme Court that 2011 did, but that didn’t stop the Court from issuing a number of opinions whose effects will be felt for some time to come. In addition, a number of other courts took bold steps to either support or constrain class action practice. The key trends coming out of 2013: watch out for predominance, and watch out for tricky settlement provisions. Also, pay attention to the complaint; key flaws can still lurk in there.

(1) Comcast Corp v. Behrend (Supreme Court).  This case was … Continue Reading

 In what is rapidly becoming a trend, the Supreme Court denied certiorari in yet another class action (this time Martin v. Blessing, but one Justice wrote an accompanying opinion to signal where the Court may come out should the issue arise again.

Martin is one of several cases in which SDNY Judge Harold Baer imposed a requirement that class counsel representing a class in a large-scale settlement must include female and minority members on its team. (For more, see here and here.)

In this case, CCAF’s Ted Frank filed an appeal challenging the practice on Constitutional grounds. … Continue Reading

 In the past few years, Professor Mark Moller of DePaul University Law School has proven to be one of the most thoughtful critics of modern class action law in the legal academy. While most commentators take on class action decisions from either a pro-plaintiff or pro-defendant standpoint, Professor Moller appears intent on evaluating these opinions according to the criteria set out by the arguments they advance. From that standpoint, he pointed out that class action defendants’ "originalist" arguments about due process were influenced heavily by a no-longer-favored line of Supreme Court cases. And now, as he argues in his … Continue Reading

 Not right away, but it’s thrown down the gauntlet. In denying certiorari in Marek v Lane, Chief Justice Roberts took the time to issue an accompanying opinion. Marek v. Lane, No. 13-136, 2013 U.S. LEXIS 7772 (Nov. 4, 2013). In it, the Chief Justice takes the time to rehearse the facts behind the controverisal Facebook Beacon settlement. (In a nutshell: Facebook allegedly instituted an opt-out program that broadcast various commercial preferences of its members. The settlement cost Facebook $9 million; 25% went to the lawyers, roughly 75% went to create a new privacy-oriented foundation whose three-member board would … Continue Reading

 At the end of last week, the Supreme Court decided American Express Co. v. Italian Colors Restaurant, which further refined the Court’s approach to arbitration of class actions. Most importantly, it eliminated the "vindication of rights" exception to enforcing arbitration clauses. (That was the doctrine that held that a court need not compel arbitration of a putative class action if it would practically prevent the plaintiff from vindicating her rights in a cost-effective manner.)

In Italian Colors, a group of merchants filed an antitrust class action against American Express, alleging that it had violated Sherman ActContinue Reading