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Employment-Related Class Action Filings Again Above 50%, Holding Top Spot Among New Class Action Lawsuits Filed In California State And Federal Courts

Aug 7, 2010 | By: Michael J. Hassen

As a resource to California class action defense attorneys, we provide weekly, unofficial summaries of the legal categories for new class action lawsuits filed in California state and federal courts in the Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Jose, Sacramento, San Diego, San Mateo, Oakland/Alameda and Orange County areas. We include only those categories that include 10% or more of the class action filings during the relevant timeframe. This report covers the time period from July 30 – August 5, 2010, during which time 54 new class actions were filed in these California state and federal courts.

Class Actions In The News Uncategorized

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New Labor Law Class Action Filings Rise Above 50% And Maintain Top Spot Among Categories Of Class Action Lawsuits Filed In California State And Federal Courts

Jul 31, 2010 | By: Michael J. Hassen

To assist class action defense attorneys anticipate the types of cases against which they will have to defend in California, we provide weekly, unofficial summaries of the legal categories for new class action lawsuits filed in California state and federal courts in the Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Jose, Sacramento, San Diego, San Mateo, Oakland/Alameda and Orange County areas. We include only those categories that include 10% or more of the class action filings during the relevant timeframe.

Class Actions In The News Uncategorized

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Labor Law Class Action Complaints Continue Below 50% Level But Again Hold Top Spot Among Categories Of Class Action Lawsuits Filed In California State And Federal Courts

Jul 24, 2010 | By: Michael J. Hassen

As a resource to California class action defense attorneys, we provide weekly, unofficial summaries of the legal categories for new class action lawsuits filed in California state and federal courts in the Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Jose, Sacramento, San Diego, San Mateo, Oakland/Alameda and Orange County areas. We include only those categories that include 10% or more of the class action filings during the relevant timeframe. This report covers the time period from July 16 – 22, 2010, during which time 53 new class actions were filed in these California state and federal courts.

Class Actions In The News Uncategorized

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Cy Pres Class Action Defense Cases–In re American Tower: Massachusetts Federal Court Rejects Request To Distribute Class Action Settlement Cy Pres Funds To Non-Profit Organization

Jul 19, 2010 | By: Michael J. Hassen

Distribution of Unclaimed Class Action Settlement Funds to Non-Profit Organization Unconnected to Harm Suffered by Class Members Inappropriate Massachusetts Federal Court Holds Plaintiff filed a putative class action against American Tower Corp. alleging violations of federal securities laws and purported to be brought on behalf of “members of the public who were harmed by the securities fraud.” In re American Tower Corp. Securities Litig., 648 F.Supp.2d 223, 224-25 (D.Mass. 2010). Eventually, the parties negotiated a settlement of the class action which provided for the distribution of unclaimed funds through a cy pres fund.

Class Action Court Decisions Uncategorized

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New Labor Law Class Action Complaints Fall Below 40% Level Among Categories Of Class Action Lawsuits Filed In California State And Federal Courts But Still Holds Top Spot Among New Class Action Filings

Jul 17, 2010 | By: Michael J. Hassen

To assist class action defense attorneys anticipate the types of cases against which they will have to defend in California, we provide weekly, unofficial summaries of the legal categories for new class action lawsuits filed in California state and federal courts in the Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Jose, Sacramento, San Diego, San Mateo, Oakland/Alameda and Orange County areas. We include only those categories that include 10% or more of the class action filings during the relevant timeframe.

Class Actions In The News Uncategorized

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Class Action Defense Cases–In re General Mills: Judicial Panel On Multidistrict Litigation (MDL) Denies Defense Motion To Centralize Class Action Litigation

Jul 16, 2010 | By: Michael J. Hassen

Judicial Panel Denies Defense Request for Pretrial Coordination of Class Action Lawsuits Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. — 1407, Agreeing With Objections of Class Action Plaintiffs that Alternatives to Centralization Exist to Avoid Duplicate Discovery Four class actions were filed against General Mills – one each in California, Florida, New Jersey and Ohio – arising out of defendant’s marketing of its Yo-Plus and/or Yo-Plus Light yogurts. In re General Mills, Inc., YoPlus Yogurt Prod.

Class Action Court Decisions Multidistrict Litigation Uncategorized

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Class Action Defense Cases–American Honda v. Allen: Seventh Circuit Court Reverses Class Action Certification Order Holding District Court’s Daubert Analysis Inadequate And Expert Testimony Inadmissible

Jul 15, 2010 | By: Michael J. Hassen

District Court Erred in Granting Class Action Certification because Expert Testimony Establishing Rule 23(b)(3)’s Predominance Prong was Unreliable and District Court’s Daubert Analysis Inadequate Seventh Circuit Holds

Plaintiffs filed a putative class action against American Honda and Honda of America (collectively “Honda”) alleging product defect liability concerning Honda’s Gold Wing GL1800 motorcycle; specifically, the class action complaint alleged that a design defect in the steering assembly causes the motorcycle to “wobble.” American Honda Motor Co., Inc. v. Allen, 600 F.3d 813, 814 (7th Cir. 2010). Plaintiffs moved the district court to certify the litigation as a class action under Rule 23(b)(3), relying heavily on an expert’s opinion that common issues predominate; Honda opposed class action treatment and challenged the expert opinion relied upon by plaintiffs in their motion. Id. Defense attorneys moved under Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharms., Inc., 509 U.S. 579 (1993), to strike plaintiffs’ expert report on the grounds that the expert’s “wobble decay standard was unreliable because it was not supported by empirical testing, was not developed through a recognized standard-setting procedure, was not generally accepted in the relevant scientific, technical, or professional community, and was not the product of independent research.” Id. The district court agreed to rule on the admissibility of the report prior to ruling on class certification because the report was central to the motion, id. But while the court announced “definite reservations about the reliability of [the expert’s] wobble decay standard,” it refused to exclude the report entirely “at this early stage of the proceedings.” Id., at 814-15. The district court granted class action certification, id., at 815, and Honda sought leave to appeal, id., at 814. The Seventh Circuit granted Honda’s request and reversed.

The Circuit Court explained that the issue before it was “whether the district court must conclusively rule on the admissibility of an expert opinion prior to class certification in this case because that opinion is essential to the certification decision.” American Honda, at 814. The Court summarized the expert’s “wobble decay” opinion, which was based on a standard the expert himself had devised and that he himself characterized as “reasonable.” Id. The expert opinion was important because “most of Plaintiffs’ predominance arguments rest upon the theories advanced by [their expert].” Id. (quoting Allen v. Am. Honda Motor Co., 264 F.R.D. 412, 425 (N.D. Ill. 2009)). In response to Honda’s objections and following the Daubert hearing, the district court “noted that it was concerned that, among other things, [the expert’s] wobble decay standard may not be supported by empirical evidence, the standard has not been generally accepted by the engineering community, and [his] test sample of one may be inadequate to conclude that the entire fleet of GL1800s is defective.” Id., at 814-15. Nevertheless, the lower court believed it was too early in the litigation to dismiss the4 expert’s opinion in its entirety, and so it granted class action treatment without prejudice to Honda moving to exclude the expert’s opinion. Id., at 815.

Certification of Class Actions Class Action Court Decisions Uncategorized

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CAFA Class Action Defense Cases–Moffitt v. Residential Funding: Fourth Circuit Court Affirms District Court Order Denying Remand Of Class Actions Holding CAFA Jurisdiction Existed At Time Remand Motions Filed

Jul 14, 2010 | By: Michael J. Hassen

Even if Defendants Removed Class Actions to Federal Court Prematurely, Subsequent Class Action Complaints Filed by Plaintiffs Prior to Filing Motion for Remand Established Federal Court Jurisdiction under Class Action Fairness Act (CAFA) so District Court did not Err in Denying Motion to Remand Class Actions to State Court Fourth Circuit Holds In 2003, three plaintiffs filed individual state court lawsuits against various defendants, including Residential Funding, “alleging violations of the Maryland Secondary Mortgage Loan Law.

Class Action Court Decisions Class Action Fairness Act (CAFA) Removal & Remand Uncategorized

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Class Action Defense Cases–Hershey v. Energy Transfer Partners: Fifth Circuit Court Affirms Dismissal Of Class Action Complaint Under Commodities Exchange Act Holding Plaintiffs Failed To Adequately Allege Specific Intent

Jul 13, 2010 | By: Michael J. Hassen

As Matter of First Impression in Circuit, Class Action Claims under CEA (Commodities Exchange Act) Required Allegation of Specific Intent to Manipulate Natural Gas Prices at a Specific Location/for a Specific NYMEX Contract, so District Court Properly Dismissed Class Action Complaint Fifth Circuit Holds

Plaintiffs filed a putative class action against Energy Transfer Partners and its affiliates alleging that they manipulated the price of natural gas futures and options in violation of the Commodities Exchange Act (CEA). Hershey v. Energy Transfer Partners, L.P., ___ F.3d ___, 2010 WL 2510122, *1 (5th Cir. June 23, 2010). According to the allegations underlying the class action complaint, plaintiffs bought and sold natural gas futures and options on the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX), and sought “to represent a class of natural gas futures and options contracts traders.” Id. The class action alleged that defendants “manipulate[ed] the price of natural gas delivered at the Houston Ship Channel (‘HSC’) and alleged economic harm to [plaintiffs’] NYMEX natural gas futures contracts caused by that manipulation.” Id. Defense attorneys moved to dismiss the class action on the ground that the CEA required plaintiffs to allege that defendants specifically intended to manipulate NYMEX natural gas futures contracts; the district court agreed and dismissed the complaint. Id., at *1, *4. Plaintiffs appealed and the Fifth Circuit affirmed.

We do not here summarize the natural gas futures market. See Hershey, at *1-*2. The issue presented, as a matter of first impression in the Fifth Circuit, was whether defendants were correct in arguing that in order to assert a claim under the CEA plaintiffs were required “to allege that Defendants specifically intended to manipulate the price of natural gas” at a specific location (the Henry Hub) thereby satisfying the requirement under the CEA “that the manipulation be specifically directed toward the underlying commodity of the contract.” Id., at *4. And the district court was considering this defense against a backdrop of regulatory action in that defendants previously had paid $10 million to the Commodities Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) and $30 million to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to settle claims that defendants “created and then exploited price differences between the HSC and the Henry Hub, a major confluence of natural gas pipelines and the settlement price for all NYMEX natural gas futures contracts.” Id., *1, *3. Not surprisingly, plaintiffs’ class action complaint “substantially mirror[ed] the allegations in regulatory actions against Defendants by the CFTC and FERC.” Id., at *3.

Class Action Court Decisions Uncategorized

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iPhone Class Action Defense Cases–Apple and AT&T Mobility Antitrust Litigation: California Federal Court Certifies Nationwide Class Action Against Apple And AT&T On iPhone Antitrust Claims

Jul 12, 2010 | By: Michael J. Hassen

Class Action Complaint Against Apple and AT&T for Antitrust Violations in Connection with Sale and Marketing of iPhone Warranted Class Action Treatment California Federal Court Holds

Plaintiffs filed a putative nationwide class action against Apple and AT&T Mobility (ATTM) alleging federal antitrust violations; specifically, the class action complaint alleged “monopolization in violation of Section 2 of the Sherman Act, violation of the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, 15 U.S.C. §§ 2301, et seq., and violation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, 18 U.S.C. § 1030.” In re Apple & ATTM Antitrust Litig., ___ F.Supp.3d ___ (N.D.Cal. July 8, 2010) [Slip Opn., at 1]. The district court summarized the allegations underlying the class action complaint at page 1 as follows: “Plaintiffs allege that although they were required to purchase a two-year service agreement with ATTM when they purchased their iPhones, Apple and ATTM had secretly agreed to technologically restrict voice and data service in the aftermarket for continued voice and data services for five years, i.e., after Plaintiffs’ initial two-year service period expired. Plaintiffs also allege that Apple monopolized the aftermarket for third party software applications for the iPhone, and that Apple caused the iPhone to become unusable if it detected that a customer had “unlocked” their iPhone for use with other service providers.” Defense attorneys for Apple moved for summary judgment with respect to the class action’s iPhone Operating System Version 1.1.1 claims, which the district court granted. Id., at 2. We do not here discuss that portion of the court order. Rather, as part of the same order, the district court considered plaintiffs’ motion to certify the litigation as a class action; the district court granted class action treatment to the lawsuit. Id. It is the class action certification portion of the decision that we discuss below.

Plaintiff’s class action certification motion sought to certify the litigation on behalf of a nationwide class defined as follows: “All persons who purchased or acquired an iPhone in the United States and entered into a two-year agreement with Defendant AT&T Mobility, LLC for iPhone voice and data service any time from June 29, 2007, to the present.” In re Apple, at 12-13. (The motion additionally sought certification of a sub-class defined as “All iPhone customers whose iPhones were ‘bricked’ by [Apple] at any time during the Class Period.” Id., at 13. However, the district court granted Apple’s motion for summary judgment on the “bricking” claim, so the court did not address the sub-class. Id.) The federal court noted that with respect to Rule 23(a)’s requirements for class action certification, Apple and ATTM did not contest numerosity, see id., at 13-14, nor did they contest adequacy of representation, see id., at 21-22. But defendants argued that the commonality and typicality requirements of Rule 23(a) had not been met, and that Rule 23(b) had not been met.

Certification of Class Actions Class Action Court Decisions Uncategorized

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