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

Massachusetts has seen a small uptick in class actions in the last eighteen months, particularly ones that cite Mass Gen. Law Ch. 93A, Masschusetts’s consumer protection law. David G. Thomas, James P. Ponsetto, and Michael E. Pastore of Greenberg Traurig have an explanation. In their Law360 article Behind The Class Action Surge Against Mass. Retailers  takes an in-depth look at a line of cases originated by the Supreme Judicial Court’s ruling in Tyler v. Michaels Stores Inc., 464 Mass. 492 (2013). These class actions challenge the practice of including ZIP codes in the information that retailers collect … Continue Reading

 In late 2007 and early 2008, the Hannaford Brothers Grocery stores suffered a security breach: thieves stole the debit and credit card data of thousands of customers. As one might imagine, a number of lawsuits followed, including a number that were consolidated into litigation in the District of Maine. After extensive pretrial litigation in various courts, the trial court was faced with the question of whether to certify a class action that sought damages for card replacement fees and purchases of data protection products.

In the resulting opinion, In re Hannaford Bros. Customer Data Security Continue Reading

Paul Karlsgodt (of the longstanding and outstanding Class Action Blawg) has published an article with the University of Denver Law Review’s Online Edition: Statutory Penalties and Class Actions: Social Justice or Legalized Extortion? Statutory Penalties is an excellent introduction to the problem of defending class actions based on statutory violations, and Karlsgodt’s focus on privacy litigation is a welcome one.

Among the most useful parts of his article, Karlsgodt provides a handy summary of the "annihilation argument" and how it’s currently received by the courts.

One argument raised in early class actions involving potentially annihilating statutory damages liability

Continue Reading

First of all, let me apologize for missing Tuesday’s post: a combination of travel, jet lag, and one or two minor crises at home were just distracting enough that nothing went up. Since I’m still feeling the effects of each, today’s post will be pretty light. Normal service should resume next week.

(And while I don’t usually get into personal details on this blog, I will also note that I have a baby due sometime in the next month, so we’ll see just how long that "normal service" will last.)

So, with that said, let me point you to a … Continue Reading

 For the most part, this blog has focused on tactics that defendants may use to oppose class certification. But another important part of class action defense is being alert to new trends in class-action practice. And, in the last few years, a new type of class action has arisen that is worth looking at more closely: the data-breach class action, which seeks to hold companies liable for revealing customer data once they’ve been hacked.

For example, take In re Hannaford Bros. Co. Customer Data Security Breach Litigation. The specific opinion affirmed a remand of a class action under CAFA’s Continue Reading