On October 13. 2020, White Castle System, Inc. petitioned the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit for permission to seek an interlocutory appeal pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1292(b).  This petition arises out of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois’ opinion on White Castle’s motion for judgment on the pleadings issued on August 7, 2020.  The matter hinged on whether repeated collection of the same biometric information from an employee without prior consent constituted separate violations of the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA).

Summary of District Court’s Cothron v. White Castle Continue Reading

On September 17, 2020, in a potentially groundbreaking decision that could have huge implications for the future of class actions, a split panel of the Eleventh Circuit held that incentive payments given to a named plaintiff in a class action are improper. See Johnson v. NPAS Solutions, LLC, No. 18-12344, “Slip Op.” (11th Cir. 2020).

Judge Newsom writing for the majority of him and Judge Baldock—a Tenth Circuit judge sitting by designation—held “that Supreme Court precedent prohibits incentive awards like the one” awarded in this case. Id. at 18. Specifically, the panel noted that Trustees v. Greenough, 105 … Continue Reading

In response to governmental recommendations, stay-at-home orders, and shelter-in-place orders, colleges and universities transitioned to distance learning to keep their students, staff, visitors, and communities safe and healthy.  Nonetheless, the plaintiffs’ bar has viewed this as an opportunity to pounce and even advertise to sue colleges and universities nationwide.  Indeed, plaintiffs’ attorneys have filed over 60 class action lawsuits against higher education institutions and many, many more are likely to come.

A review of many of these class actions provides a roadmap to the strategy and what is likely to be asserted against your institution if it has not already … Continue Reading

We recently discussed Circuit Court rulings allowing nationwide class actions where the named plaintiffs could satisfy specific personal jurisdiction.  Since then, the Fifth Circuit has held that a defendant did not waive its personal jurisdiction defense to plaintiffs’ nationwide class allegations by raising the defense for the first time in opposition to class certification.  See Cruson v. Jackson Nat’l Life Ins. Co., ___ F.3d. ___, 2020 WL 1443531 (5th Cir. Mar. 25, 2020).  The Court did not go on to reach the merits of the defense, instead finding that plaintiffs failed to make an adequate predominance showing under Rule … Continue Reading

In Spokeo, Inc. v. Robins, 136 S. Ct. 1540 (2016), the Supreme Court held that Article III requires plaintiffs to establish a “concrete and particularized” injury-in-fact, “even in the context of a statutory violation.”  Although the Supreme Court noted that “intangible” injuries, including the “violation of a procedural right” can be sufficient in some circumstances, the Supreme Court made clear that “a bare procedural violation, divorced from any concrete harm” to the plaintiff cannot satisfy the injury-in-fact requirement.  Given the limited guidance provided by the Supreme Court, the circuit courts have taken differing approaches to what constitutes an injury-in-fact … Continue Reading

Welcome to a three-part series that provides an overview of the California Invasion of Privacy Act (CIPA), examines recent CIPA litigation involving smart speakers, and proposes defenses in response to an alleged violation.

CIPA in the Age of Smart Devices

The California Invasion of Privacy Act (CIPA)[1]—traditionally used by law enforcement and the plaintiffs’ bar to address illegal recording/eavesdropping on phone calls—has seen renewed interest in the age of smart speakers. Smart speakers, such as Amazon’s Alexa, Google Home and Apple’s Siri, are voice-enabled devices where the user utters a “wake word” to activate a “virtual assistant”.  A … Continue Reading

When and how can a defendant in a putative class action defeat a proposed class?  Defendants served with class action complaints frequently struggle with this question.  Typically, defendants wait until class certification briefing following lengthy discovery to contest class treatment.  This waiting game carries a high cost – discovery in class action cases is usually lengthy (even when bifurcated to address class certification first), expensive, and contentious, carried on while potentially ruinous exposure dangles over the defendant’s head.  Many defendants therefore consider filing early motions to strike class allegations prior to or during discovery to attempt to narrow the class—or … Continue Reading

On Tuesday May 28, 2019, the United State Supreme Court declined to afford state court third-party, class action defendants the ability to remove a class action to federal court. See Home Depot U.S.A., Inc. v. Jackson, 17-1471 (May 28, 2019).

In Jackson, Citibank, N.A., filed a debt-collection action against George Jackson in North Carolina state court. Jackson answered this action and filed his own claims: (1) an individual counterclaim against Citibank and (2) a third-party class-action against Home Depot U.S.A., Inc., and Carolina Water Systems, Inc.

After Citibank dismissed its claims against Jackson, Home Depot filed a notice … Continue Reading

The roller coaster of employer liability under the background check provisions of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) recently took an upswing with the California Court of Appeals’ decision in Culberson v. Walt Disney Parks & Resorts.  The Culberson court considered two class claims, both of which are now-familiar spindles ready to prick the fingers of unwitting employers.  First, Culberson alleged that he received a pre-background check notice from Disney that contained extraneous information, in violation of the FCRA’s requirement that the notice be provided in a document that “consists solely of the disclosure” (commonly known as the “standalone … Continue Reading

On Jan. 29, 2019, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, in a strikingly broad decision, raised the bar for employers’ compliance with the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). In Gilberg v California Check Cashing Stores LLC, the court held that an employer violates the FCRA by including, in a pre-background check notice form, information about a job applicant’s rights under various state laws. This decision will require significant revision of many employers’ FCRA consent forms.

The Gilberg court’s opinion focused on the FCRA’s pre-background check notice requirement, one of several notice and disclosure obligations the FCRA imposes on

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