- Judge Jed Rakoff reviews new book by Columbia lawprof John Coffee on future of class actions [New York Review of Books]
- About that “vaping could cause popcorn lung” scare: “All conventional [cigarette smoke] contains… levels of diacetyl… a lot higher than those produced by e-cigarettes.” [Michael Siegel]
- A peek inside Kinder Surprise eggs, global candy favorite that cannot lawfully be brought into the U.S. [Business Insider, earlier]
- Man’s suit against New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art as “too white” raises eyebrows [New York Post, ArtNet]
- Courageous: in Saudi Arabia, lawyer Waleed Abulkhair, who has represented blogger Raif Badawi, imprisoned for doing his job [Scott Greenfield]
- Lawyer’s advice: bosses face legal risk if they let their employees join in #ElderlyChristmasSongs Twitter levity [Jon Hyman]
- Current food labeling standards “provide a big nudge for people to eat less saturated fats and more carbohydrates,” contrary to what many doctors now advise [Ike Brannon, Cato]
- “Definition of Insanity – Expecting Certification of a Personal Injury Class Action” [James Beck on oral contraceptive defective packaging litigation]
- “Noticed something strange. In jury selection, attorneys for two other defendants conferred with attorneys for the plaintiff.” [Madison County Record, more]
- Changes in federal discovery rules effective December 1 [Mathea Bulander and Jason Moore (Redgrave LLP), Washington Legal Foundation] More: Jeff Bennion, Above the Law.
- Eric Turkewitz takes issue with my reference to New York’s Scaffold Law in writing on Sheldon Silver’s downfall [New York Personal Injury Attorney Blog]
- Changes ahead for Rule 23, which governs class actions? [Andrew Trask]
- Behind the attacks on arbitration: plaintiff’s bar, key political player, is “fighting back hard” against threat to its interests [Daniel Fisher, earlier here, here, etc.]
- Not every hot-coffee-spill case is like Liebeck v. McDonald’s. Sometimes defendants actually are negligent [Nick Farr/Abnormal Use, earlier here and many others]
- Nice work: how one lawyer cleans up filing piggyback class actions after the Federal Trade Commission and other enforcement agencies cite marketers for violations [Daniel Fisher, Forbes]
- Cites inmate’s 18-year history of frivolous complaints: “Prisoner can’t sue USA Today for not printing gambling odds, Pennsylvania court says” [PennLive]
- Canada’s pioneering cap on regulation could be a model for U.S. [Laura Jones, Mercatus via Tyler Cowen]
- “He had a right to shoot at this drone, and I’m going to dismiss this charge” [Eugene Volokh on Kentucky case noted in July]
- Dear John: Los Angeles may use license-plate readers to go after drivers who enter “wrong” neighborhoods [Brian Doherty]
- Asylum law (which differs in numerous ways from refugee law, among them that it typically addresses claims of persons already here) hasn’t quite solved its own vetting problem [flashback from last year, more]
- Georgia lawyer “sanctioned for ‘deploying boilerplate claims’ and ‘utterly frivolous’ arguments” [ABA Journal]
Game of skill, or game of chance? “The [class-action] suit, filed in Manhattan federal court on behalf of FanDuel and DraftKings players nationwide, accuses Visa, MasterCard, American Express and other defendants of participating in a racketeering scheme to facilitate illegal gambling operations.” [Alison Frankel, Reuters]
The New York Times, which can scarcely mention firearms policy without invoking the Gun Lobby, runs a big feature endorsing the claims of arbitration opponents that is curiously evasive about the role of the Litigation Lobby. Daniel Fisher, Forbes:
The writers who penned today’s New York Times Page One expose of arbitration clauses say they examined thousands of court documents and interviewed hundreds of lawyers, yet they fell for a rookie mistake: They confused class-action plaintiffs for the real thing….
The “article splayed across four pages of the Sunday Times” profiles the owner of the Italian Colors restaurant, the named plaintiff in a class action against American Express that went to the Supreme Court, as if he were typical of “plaintiffs [who] sprang up spontaneously and went out and hired lawyers to vindicate their rights?
Who were his lawyers? The Times doesn’t think you need to know. But here’s the main one: Gary B. Friedman, an attorney who specializes in suing credit-card companies. He recently suffered a bit of bad press when a federal judge in New York threw out a proposed settlement of another class action against Amex because Friedman had displayed “improper and disappointing conduct” by communicating sensitive information to a lawyer for the other side. The judge criticized Friedman for “blatant collusion” by negotiating a settlement with the defense that was “contrary to the wishes of the putative class.”
Now why couldn’t the enterprising Times reporters find room in such a large story for a mention of Friedman? Perhaps because he represents the real face of consumer class actions. These aren’t lawsuits by little guys like Carson trying to vindicate their rights against big corporations. Most are lawsuits by wealthy attorneys trying to get wealthier, by using the mechanism of the class action — originally developed to allow courts to declare classes of plaintiffs in civil-rights cases — to present companies with an offer they can’t refuse: Settle and pay us a rich fee, or risk a devastating loss in court.
Fisher summarizes: the Times “reports without skepticism the plaintiff-lawyer version of the story.” That’s a shame on a topic where even such a liberal figure as California Gov. Jerry Brown, who recently vetoed an anti-arbitration bill, acknowledges there are genuine concerns on both sides.
Our coverage of contractually agreed pre-dispute arbitration — including both the practical and the freedom-of-contract arguments for it — goes back to the early days of this site, including Coyote (“Here is how you should think about this proposed law: Attorneys are the taxi cartels, and arbitration is Uber. And the incumbents want their competitor banned.”), James Taranto on the Times as “two papers in one,” Andrew Pincus on arbitration as still pretty much the Litigation Lobby’s number one target. Much coverage also at Point of Law, including Ted Frank on a familiar-sounding law firm’s use of pre-dispute arbitration clauses.
P.S. I’ll bet he has: “Having worked extensively with Silver-Greenberg on this series over the past several months…” [Deepak Gupta, Public Citizen]
And: more thoughts at Cato at Liberty, including links to Cato work and discussion of why consumers so seldom switch from one provider to another in search of more favorable fine print on class action availability.
- SCOTUS takes up oral argument Monday on one of this year’s cases on uninjured plaintiff standing [Anne Friedman/DLA Piper, Richard Samp/WLF on Spokeo, Inc., v. Robins, more from Theodore Olson/Lucas Townsend, WLF on uninjured-plaintiff class actions]
- Time magazine asked law professors to pick best and worst SCOTUS rulings. Much consequentialism ensued [Orin Kerr, Ilya Somin]
- Fisher v. University of Texas, the affirmative action case, returns to the high court [Alison Somin, Federalist Society blog]
- CBIA vs San Jose case could upend some of zoning law [Ilya Shapiro and Trevor Burrus, Cato, via @nickzaiac]
- Rebuff to DoJ: “Supreme Court denies cert in US v. Newman insider trading tipping case” [Prof. Bainbridge, more, Peter Van Doren/Cato]
- Will Court agree to revisit Alien Tort Statute in Ivory Coast-related case of Nestle v. Doe? [WLF]
- Can defendant moot a class action by fully satisfying claim of named plaintiff? [Daniel Fisher on Campbell-Ewald v. Gomez] “Gomez Is Not the Slam Dunk You Think It Is” [Andrew Trask]
- Preview of testimony from Dr. Robert Taub, formerly of Columbia U., in upcoming asbestos-referral corruption trial of former New York assembly speaker Sheldon Silver [NY Post]
- Class action procedure: “Big Changes to Rule 23 in 2018? Be Sure to Weigh In Now” [Paul Karlsgodt, Andrew Trask]
- In case it wasn’t clear already — but Overlawyered readers knew, didn’t they? — the aunt who sued her nephew wasn’t really upset with her young relative, she was trying to get at insurance money [New Jersey Civil Justice Institute]
- “Judge’s Solution To Lead-Paint Problem May Be A Public Nuisance Itself” [Daniel Fisher]
- “Randy Maniloff: Lawyers want to force teams to use ‘foul pole to foul pole’ netting to protect fans from injury” [W$J, earlier]
- House passes bill to re-toughen Rule 11 sanctions, prospects for getting past White House uncertain [Rep. Lamar Smith press release, Texans for Lawsuit Reform on Lawsuit Abuse Reduction Act]
- Denver: “a case that lawyers say is the first product liability claim in the nation involving the legal marijuana industry” [Greenfield Reporter]
The Court begins its new term each year on the first Monday in October:
- Court agrees to tackle RICO extraterritoriality [Alison Frankel/Reuters and earlier background, Washington Legal Foundation; RJR Nabisco v. European Community]
- New term shaping up as even bigger for class action law than expected [Jess Bravin, W$J, Alison Frankel in June] In addition to Tyson Foods v. Bouaphakeo (“trial by formula“) and Spokeo, Inc. v. Robins [uninjured plaintiff standing: Kevin LaCroix, more], cases include DirecTV v. Imburgia [can California court refuse to enforce arbitration clause waiving class actions?; Ronald Mann, WLF]; Campbell-Ewald v. Gomez [is class action mooted when defendant proffers full recoverable amount to named plaintiff? Ronald Mann]; and now, just granted, MHN Government Services, Inc. v. Zaborowski (“Whether California’s arbitration-only severability rule is preempted by the Federal Arbitration Act”). DirecTV is slated for oral argument Tues., Oct. 6, and Campbell-Ewald Wed., Oct. 14;
- Rating John Roberts as Chief Justice: a lot to like if you get past the overdone deference to political branches [Roger Pilon, Cato; a contrary view, Evan Bernick] “The Fatal Conceit of Chief Justice Roberts’s ‘Long Game'” [Josh Blackman]
- Why the Little Sisters of the Poor have a better religious liberty case than Kim Davis [Noah Feldman, Cato amicus and Josh Blackman podcast]
- Did 2012 Congressional enactment on frozen Iran assets and terrorism claimants unconstitutionally direct courts how to decide pending litigation? Court grants cert [Bank Markazi v. Peterson; Lyle Denniston]
- Symposium on teacher-dues First Amendment case Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association with Deborah LaFetra, David Rifkin/Andrew Grossman, and others [SCOTUSblog] “If unions lose agency fees, what next?” [Joanne Jacobs]
- A regulatory taking? PLF seeks certiorari on California Supreme Court decision upholding San Jose “inclusionary zoning” rules [Pacific Legal Foundation, more; Scott Beyer]
- Plus: “Supreme Court Justices Get More Liberal As They Get Older” [Oliver Roeder/Five Thirty-Eight, with charts]
A would-be class action from Edelson PC “aims to represent two classes — every American on Twitter who has ever received a direct message and every American on Twitter who has ever sent a direct message.” The claim is that Twitter’s use of URL shorteners for links sent within direct messages (DMs) violates the Electronic Communications Privacy Act and California privacy law because the service “reads” (if only by algorithm) communications that it promised were confidential. “The claimed damages are as high as $100 per day for each Twitter user whose privacy was violated.” [Hollywood Reporter] Overlawyered readers have met the Chicago-based Edelson class-action firm on previous occasions.
- “Lawyer Threatens Yelp Reviewer With Lawsuit, Is Wrong” [Popehat, related Ken White on cease and desist orders]
- “Winghouse restaurants only serve chicken wing parts, not the full drummettes, flappers and wingtips combination that traditionally defines a chicken wing, a class action lawsuit claims.” [Courthouse News, links to paywalled document]
- Claim: what really ails law schools is lack of aggressive PR push. Readers push back in comments [Caron/TaxProf, Joe Patrice]
- I was hoping Sen. Rand Paul would take a harder line against wildcat public employee strikes [Dave Weigel on Kentucky clerk case]
- California’s Central Valley hit by ADA mass filings: “Griffiths said the Moore Law Firm has filed [accessibility] complaints against about 200 businesses in Fresno.” [Hanford Sentinel]
- If the “system is rigged,” it’s not in the way Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders seem to think [Cass Sunstein, Bloomberg View]
- Up jumps the swagman, files a claim in copyright: origins and ownership chain of “Waltzing Matilda” are murky [Sydney Morning Herald via @ContentLawyer]