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Archive for August, 2011

My submission to the SCOTUSblog Class Action Symposium is now available for viewing.  Click the title below for the link:

The October 2010 Supreme Court Term in review: For defendants, life returns to normal after the celebration ends

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The award-winning U.S. Supreme Court blog SCOTUSblog is presenting a symposium on recent Supreme Court developments in the area of class actions that you won’t want to miss.  Click here for an introduction to the symposium and here to see a list of the various contributions as they are released. I’m extremely honored to be listed among the other fine contributors to the series.

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It’s not too late to sign up for tomorrow’s Strafford Publications Webinar Class Certification After Dukes, Bayer and Halliburton Rulings.   As a preview, here is a copy of the written materials for my portion of the presentation, Opposing Class Certification After Dukes, Bayer and Halliburton.  I hope you can make it.

 

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As I have noted in a series of posts recently, class action settlement objectors should not be taken lightly.  (See this August 1, 2011 post and others cited within).  Last week, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals offered an excellent case in point in its decision in In re Literary Works in Electronic Databases Copyright Litigation, No. 05-5943-cv(L) (2d Cir., Aug. 17, 2011), in which a two-judge majority sided with ten objectors in vacating the approval of a class action settlement involving copyright infringement claims by freelance authors against various publishers who provide content in online databases.   Based in part on principles limiting settlement class certification that were recognized in two well-known Supreme Court opinions from the late 1990s, Amchem Prods., Inc. v. Windsor, 521 U.S. 591, 620 (1997) and Ortiz v. Fibreboard Corp., 527 U.S. 815 (1999), the court held that the interests of various subclasses within a proposed settlement class had interests that were too divergent to be adequately represented by a single group of class representatives and class counsel.  Andrew Trask has a good summary and some insightful commentary about the decision and its potential future impact on his blog, Class Action Countermeasures.  Alison Frankel offers additional perspective in her column for Thompson Reuters, On the Case.

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In an entry entitled Concepcion, Four Long Months Later, I summarized several decisions evaluating class arbitration waiver provisions following the Concepcion decision.  I neglected to include the case of NAACP of Camden County East v. Foulke Management Corp., ___ N.J. Super. ___ (App. Div. 2011), in which a New Jersey state appellate court held an arbitration provision unenforceable under state law on ambiguity grounds.

Bruce D. Greenberg has a synopsis of the decision on his blog, New Jersey Appellate Law, along with a link to the opinion.

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Class action news has slowed a bit over the Summer months, at least compared to the non-stop action we witnessed this Spring.  But one area that has seen continued development in the past few months has been the area of class arbitration waivers, where several lower court decisions have been issued in the wake of AT&T Mobility LLC v. Concepcion.  A view of the decisions shows that class actions are far from dead, despite the dire predictions of many experts following the decision.  As my partner, John Lewis, noted in a recent interview with the AmLaw Daily, “While many people thought Concepcion was the end of the line, now we’re seeing the reaction to Conception with district courts distinguishing it on various grounds.”  Here is a quick summary of several key decisions that have interpreted or applied Concepcion:

Chen-Oster v. Goldman Sachs, Inc. (link courtesy of Justia.com) - U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York – July 7, 2011 – applying the federal common law of arbitrability in rejecting the argument that Concepcion required enforcement of class arbitration waiver in a gender discrimination pattern and practice case, holding that enforcement of the arbitration clause at issue would interfere with the enforcement of a federal substantive right.

Brown v. Ralphs Grocery Company (link courtesy of Impact Litigation Journal, which also has a  summary of the decision here) – California Court of Appeal – July 12, 2011 - holding that representative actions for state labor code violations under California’s Private Attorney General Act (PAGA) were not preempted by the FAA because Concepcion did not address preemption in cases involving PAGA’s statutory procedure and because the procedure did not involve many of the attributes of class action procedure that the Supreme Court had held were inconsistent with the purposes of arbitration.

Kanbar v. O’Melveny & Myers (link also courtesy of the AmLaw Daily) – U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California - July 21, 2011 –  holding in an employment discrimination case that notwithstanding Concepcion, an arbitration provision was unconscionable under California state law and that state law was not preempted under the FAA, but nonetheless compelling arbitration on the grounds that the plaintiff had waived her right to object to enforceability of the arbitration clause.

Cruz v. Cingular Wireless LLC - Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals – August 11, 2011 - holding that Concepcion compelled the conclusion that arbitration clause was enforceable in a case involving the same exact arbitration clause that was at issue in Concepcion (the clause in AT&T’s mobile phone contract).

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For those of you who simply can’t get enough of the Supreme Court’s recent class action rulings, I will be speaking in an upcoming live phone/web seminar sponsored by Strafford Publications entitled “Class Certification After Dukes, Bayer and Halliburton Rulings.”   The Webinar  is scheduled for Tuesday, August 30, 1:00pm-2:30pm EDT.   Here is a summary:

The Supreme Court’s watershed Dukes v. Wal-Mart ruling set new standards for Rule 23(a) class certification and provided guidance to the level of merits inquiry appropriate at the certification stage. It also clarified when a claim for monetary relief can be made under Rule 23(b). While Dukes is a shift in defendants’ favor, the Court refused in Smith v. Bayer to curtail relitigation of class actions in parallel state court litigation. Federal courts may not enjoin state courts from considering certification when a federal court has denied certification of the same class. In Erica John Fund v. Halliburton, the Court held that loss causation is not a prerequisite to class certification in a securities action. However, the Court did not address the existing circuit court divergence on whether a court should examine evidence of price impact at the certification stage. My fellow panelists and I developed this program to analyze three key Supreme Court rulings, Dukes, Bayer and Halliburton and their impact on current class certification jurisprudence. We will discuss how plaintiff and defendant counsel can best leverage or overcome the impact of these rulings in certification proceedings. We will offer our perspectives and guidance on these and other critical questions: What impact will Dukes have on the use of statistics and expert testimony in support of class certification? How will commonality and numerosity be applied after Dukes? What guidance, if any, does the Bayer case provide regarding relitigating competing class actions where class certification has already been granted? In light of Halliburton, should a district court examine evidence of price impact at the class certification stage, and if so, who has the burden of proof? After our presentations, we will engage in a live question and answer session with participants — so we can answer your questions about these important issues directly. I hope you’ll join us.

For more information or to register, visit the Strafford website at this link.

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Raj Chohan and I recently co-authored an article entitled Class Action Settlement Objectors: Minor Nuisance or Serious Threat to Final Approval?, which appears on page 739 of the July 11, 2011 edition of the BNA Product Safety & Liability Reporter.  The article is only available online to subscribers, but the publisher gave me a box full of copies to distribute, so please feel free to contact me if you’d like one.  For those who lack the patience required for a snail mail version, the article is a more polished (thanks to Raj) compilation of a series of posts that originally appeared here on CAB earlier this year:

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