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

 After watching an infomercial, Harry Wiedenbeck bought a "comprehensive" medical health insurance plan for himself and his wife. When the insurer subsequently denied a claim based on his wife’s hospitalization, Mr. Wiedenbeck filed a class action alleging fraud and bad faith on behalf of all Wisconsin residents who had bought the plan.

The subsequent case, described in Wiedenbeck v. Cinergy Health, Inc., No. 12-cv-508-wmc, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 134672 (W.D. Wis. Sep. 20, 2013), contained a number of procedural machinations, including the use of an offer of judgment. But I’d like to focus on the class certification debate, because … Continue Reading

 In Rowe v. Bankers Life & Cas. Co., 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 43198 (N.D. Cal. Mar. 29, 2012), Estella Rowe, a senior citizen, bought an equity-indexed deferred annuity. After she did so, she learned that this particular kind of annuity (like most annuities) is not a very good investment.  So she sued her insurance company, alleging that it

conspired with its independent sales agents and others to induce elderly consumers to buy equity-indexed deferred annuities, which, according to Rowe, are unsuitable investment vehicles for anyone over sixty-five years old.

Rowe asserted a cause of action for … Continue Reading

 I’ve written before about the uses to which defense counsel can put a well-taken named plaintiff deposition. And, once again, an opinion has come along that showcases just how important the named plaintiff deposition is as a weapon to defeat class certification.

The case, Burns v. Bayer Corp., 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 33183 (S.D. Ill. Mar. 13, 2012), is part of the Yaz multi-district litigation (which previously yielded an extremely useful motion to strike opinion). Yaz is an oral contraceptive, and the FDA has also approved it for use in treating acne and premenstrual dysphoric disorder. It … Continue Reading

It’s June, which means the Supreme Court is issuing a spate of opinions to finish out its 2010-11 term. Yesterday, the Court announced its opinion for Erica John Fund v. Halliburton. It’s a short opinion, and a unanimous one. (Chief Justice Roberts wrote the opinion for the 9-0 Court.)

As you may remember, this case concerns an alleged securities fraud. The plaintiffs had alleged that Halliburton understated its asbestos litigation liability and overstated the benefits of a proposed merger. Once the truth came out, the price of Halliburton’s stock dropped. When the plaintiffs moved for class certification, Halliburton … Continue Reading

 As a class action lawyer (and one who defends class actions, no less), I often face the problem of explaining to friends and family exactly what I do all day. The cases themselves are often interesting, but the way we lawyers go about defending them–by mastering the arcana of one of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure–can seem hopelessly dry. And that is why, at times, I have comforted myself with the (hollow, I admit) consolation that at least I’m not an ERISA lawyer.

Except, of course, that ERISA can spawn class-action lawsuits as well. Some simply challenge a … Continue Reading

Greg Mortenson turned a passion for mountain-climbing and an interest in helping the women of Central Asia into a multimillion dollar charitable foundation and a bestselling book. The book, Three Cups of Tea, tells the story of how his failed attempt to scale K2 (considered one of the hardest peaks in the world) led to his founding a charity to build schools in Central Asia.

But since the time that Mortenson’s book hit the bestseller list, a number of people (including former supporter John Krakauer) have raised serious questions about whether Mortenson was telling the truth in Three Cups 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

See, here’s the thing. Russell Jackson stole my case. The Seventh Circuit decided an important case on the limits of Rule 23(b)(2)–Kartman v. State Farm Mutual Auto Ins.–and I set it aside to blog about today. But Jackson’s great writeup covers everything I wanted to.  

And here’s the other thing. There have been a lot of good writeups of class actions lately.  To wit:

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2011 has produced a number of class actions that have caught the attention of the news media. The class action against Taco Bell, for example, made headlines for the innovation involved in the defendant’s PR strategy. The class action against former President Carter capitalized on a novel theory and a famous defendant. Now, a plaintiffs’ firm has brought a lawsuit against the Dallas Cowboys on behalf of those ticketholders who didn’t get the seats they thought they would at the Superbowl. This appears to be a PR-based class action, much like the ones against Taco Bell and Jimmy Carter. … Continue Reading