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Archive for December 30th, 2008

Shannon P. Duffy of The Legal Intelligencer has authored an article summarizing the Third Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision in In re Hydrogen Peroxide Antitrust Litigation, No. 07-1689 (3d Cir., Dec. 30, 2008), which the article calls a “ruling that is sure to be required reading for antitrust lawyers.”  The decision also addresses more general class certification issues that are sure to be of interest to lawyers to practice in other areas. 

In particular, the Court has an interesting analysis of how a trial court must weigh conflicting expert testimony on class certification issues in carrying out the “rigorous analysis” required of a federal court in evaluating whether a class should be certified under FRCP 23.  The trial court had considered only whether the plaintiff had offered expert testimony that could be considered admissible under a Daubert analysis in finding that the plaintiff had established that the issue of antitrust injury was susceptible to common, class wide proof.  The trial court refused to weigh this evidence against the conflicting expert testimony offered by the Defendant that the antitrust injury could not be determined on a class wide basis.  The Third Circuit reversed, holding that the trial court was required to also consider conflicting expert testimony and then make a decision whether the issue was truly susceptible to class wide proof.   The court was clear that on remand, the trial court did not have to accept the defendant’s expert’s view, it merely had to demonstrate that the expert’s testimony had been considered in making an actual determination.

The decision reaffirms the idea that in carrying out the “rigorous analysis”, a district court must not shy away from making an actual determination of each of the issues necessary for class certification, even if that determination involves weighing conflicting testimony or involves deciding an issue that also happens to be a disputed issue on the merits of the plaintiff’s claims.  A court must not simply give the plaintiff the benefit of the doubt or view the evidence in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, as in ruling a motion to dismiss under FRCP 12(b)(6).

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As the new year approaches, everyone seems to be doing a “top ten” list for 2008, so of course, ClassActionBlawg has to have one too.  However, this “top ten” list has two improvements.  First, the rankings will be decided by reader vote.  Second, and even better, it goes to 11!

So, here are some key class action decisions and trends from the year that was, in no particular order.  See the poll below to vote for the one you like best.  Feel free to submit comments with other suggestions, and maybe together we can make a top ten list so good that it will go higher than 11.  Best wishes to all in 2009.

  • RICO fraud class actions show promise after Supreme Court’s decision in Bridge v. Phoenix Bond & Indemnity Co., 553 U.S.. —. , 128 S.Ct. 2131 (U.S. June 9, 2008) (holding that a plaintiff need not show first-party reliance in order to assert a claim under the federal RICO statute).
  • “Foreign Cubed” class actions show promise, then sputter a bit.  See Morrison v. National Australia Bank Ltd., 2008 WL 4660742 (2d Cir. Oct. 23, 2008) (discussing federal jurisdiction over “foreign cubed” securities class actions).
  • Fraud on the market theories are tested in consumer fraud cases.  See McLaughlin v. Philip Morris USA, Inc., 522 F.3d 215 (2d Cir. 2008) (rejecting class certification on various consumer fraud theories, including the “fraud on the market theory”).
  • Courts reject certification of FACTA Class Actions on superiority grounds based on reasoning that class exposure would be grossly disproportionate to the alleged harm to consumers.  See, e.g., this recent California federal court decision summarized at Class Action Defense Blog.
  • California courts address certification of wage and hour class actions involving unpaid wages for time worked during meal and rest breaksSee Brinker Restaurant Corp. v. Superior Court (2008), 165 Cal. App. 4th 25, review granted (Oct. 22, 2008).
  • Truth in Lending Act (TILA) actions seeking rescission of mortgages due to alleged predatory lending deemed unsuitable for class treatment.  See Andrews v. Chevy Chase Bank, No. 07-1327 (7th Cir., Sept. 24, 2008)
  • Class actions for damages caused by pollution where defendant has complied with applicable regulations see mixed results in the U.S. and Canada.
  • The Second Circuit Court of Appeals holds that a preponderance of the evidence standard of proof applies in determining whether the elements of class certification have been satisfied in Teamsters Local 445 Freight Division Pension Fund v. Bombardier, Inc., Case No. 06-3794-cv (2d Cir. Oct. 14, 2008).
  • Italy’s new class action law takes effect, while other European countries consider class action reforms.
  • Class action scandals involving illegal kickback and bribery schemes result in prison sentences for class action lawyers Melvin Weiss, William Lerach, Dickie Scruggs and others.
  • The Supreme Court rejects “scheme liability” in securities fraud cases in Stoneridge Inv. Partners, LLC v. Scientific-Atlanta, Inc., 128 S. Ct. 761 (2008)

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