I hope everyone had a good Memorial Day weekend. This week, we take a brief look at a number of opinions that were decided last week, none of which are revolutionary, but all of which are useful to defendants at some stage of the class action. Think of it like a Memorial Day barbecue, a little something for each course.

Discovery. Both plaintiffs and defendants like to serve contention interrogatories, and both also like to give vague answers. It’s part of the chess game that is pretrial discovery, and it can be frustrating to both observers and participants. In … Continue Reading

As you may know, most bloggers have some kind of service that provides a statistical analysis of their site. In addition to telling us how many of you visit, and what you read, and whether you come back, these services also tell us what searches bring (some of) you here. And, over the last year and change, there are certain searches that have recurred enough that I consider them "frequently asked questions." Here are four, with brief answers:

What is the definition of "bet the company" litigation? This is–at least to me–a surprisingly common question. My own … Continue Reading

I’ve talked before about the problem of circularity in securities class actions. Briefly put:

[A] securities class action takes money from the firm, and pays it to the shareholders, minus costs and attorneys’ fees. The hitch is that the firm is owned by the shareholders, which means that the attorneys have just taken money from the shareholders’ property and handed it to them directly, while taking a one-third cut for themselves.

At the time, I pointed out that while the circularity critique may suggest that securities class-acton plaintiffs are inadequate the moment they bring a lawsuit, courts were unlikely … Continue Reading

 In the last few years, statutory non-disclosure have become more common among class-action filings. They allow the plaintiffs to assert fraud-like claims that can arouse public (or judicial) sympathy, without necessarily having to worry about proving individualized reliance the way they would if they had alleged a common-law fraud claim.

A recent case, Noel v. Hudd Distribution Services, Inc., 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 21480 (D.S.C. March 2, 2011), provides one tactical roadmap for defending against these kinds of claims. In Noel, the plaintiffs brought claims against a truck leasing company, claiming that it charged them for insurance premiums and … Continue Reading

Plaintiffs in securities class actions often use "confidential witnesses" in their complaints to substantiate various allegations. The practice makes some sense at the complaint stage: it allows the plaintiff to plead fraud and loss causation with the specificity required by the PSLRA, without exposing potential witnesses to backlash from their employer should the case never proceed past the motion-to-dismiss stage. But once the motion to dismiss has been decided, is there any need for a plaintiff to keep confidential witnesses confidential?

In In re Netbank Securities Litigation, 259 F.R.D. 656 (N.D. Ga. 2009), the plaintiff alleged … Continue Reading

Since I first wrote about fighting fishing expeditions, Google has sent a number of readers to the blog looking for “fishing expeditions discovery” or “deny class certification discovery abuse.” (It also sent one reader looking for “botulism,” which I’m proud to say is not available here.) Clearly, fighting fishing expeditions in class actions is an important topic to defense lawyers. And the good news is, there’s more than one way to do so. For example, in addition to objecting to the relevance of some of plaintiff’s document requests or interrogatories, one can also object that the plaintiff is not Continue Reading