Commercial litigator Brooks Gresham and products liability litigator Trent Taylor bring us some timely thoughts about reliance from a recent decision by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California in a food-labeling class action.

Leonardo da Vinci, among many other laudable epithets, has been called “the last person who knew everything,” as he is thought to have learned all of the scientific knowledge that was available at the time. Whether or not true, undoubtedly Leonardo would be overwhelmed by the amount of knowledge available today, instantaneously, at the touch of a button. Indeed, in the United States … Continue Reading

 Class action practice provides plaintiffs with some odd pleading incentives. Two that cause continual problems are the need to keep things vague (in order to emphasize commonalities over any variations that may arise from more specific details) and the need to frame one’s complaint as broadly as possible to maximize the potential recovery in settlement negotiations.

As it turns out, it is in fact possible to plead a complaint that is too broad and too vague. In fact, the Eastern District of Louisiana entertained a case like this a few months ago, in Duvio v. Viking Range Corp., 2013 … Continue Reading

 Last week, there were two appellate opinions, one from the Seventh Circuit and one from the Tenth, that are worth some attention. They’re worth discussing together as well, because while only one is really helpful for defendants, both discuss different conceptions of how to argue comity in class actions.

The first is Smentek v. Dart (7th Cir. 2012). Smentek was a class action filed on behalf of Illinois prisoners who had been denied dental care in violation of the due process clause. It was the third of its kind. How did that happen? In the first two class actions, various … Continue Reading

 Officially, I’m still on hiatus.  (Although the author-reviewed copy edits for The Class Action Playbook went in to the publisher yesterday.)  But today’s article in the Wall Street Journal: "Lawyers Wrestle Over Driver’s Seat in Litigation Against Toyota" deserves a brief post, if only to highlight some of the unusual qualifications plaintiffs’ lawyers are touting in their applications to get lead counsel status on what they believe to be a very high-reward case.  Among other accomplishments that might make for a good lead counsel:

  • Daniel Becnel Jr. donated a kidney to his brother, and can still work amicably with his
Continue Reading

Often, when a defendant receives a class-action complaint, its first reaction is to see whether or not there are grounds to dismiss the action. (For defendants in federal court, that impulse is particularly acute since the Supreme Court handed down its opinion in Ashcroft v. Iqbal, which demonstrates little tolerance for purposely vague pleadings.) If the motion to dismiss succeeds, then the action goes away. But even if a complaint survives a motion to dismiss, the defense may still have achieved a valuable victory by setting up the eventual denial of class certification.

Take the 2008 case of … Continue Reading