Class Actions In The News

Posted On: March 29, 2007 by Michael J. Hassen Email This Post

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Vioxx Class Action Defense Cases - Merck Defense Team Wins Vioxx Case In Madison County, Illinois Giving It Ten Victories Against Five Defeats

Defense Victory will aid Merck in Defeating Motions to Certify other Lawsuits as Class Actions in the 265 Pending Class Action Lawsuits Involving Vioxx

Bruce Japsen of the Chicago Tribune reported yesterday that a jury in plaintiff-friendly Madison County has ruled in favor of Merck in a Vioxx case, handing Merck its first win in the Midwest and 10th defense verdict overall. Japsen notes that Merck “has pledged to defend the Vioxx cases one by one, and has so far had only five defeats.” But the fight is far from over: Merck still faces 265 class action lawsuits in addition to 27,000 individual lawsuits. The risks are substantial: in one of its losses, the jury reportedly awarded the plaintiff more than $20 million.

The Madison County victory is important because it supports Merck’s argument that each case is different and so must be tried on a case by case basis. In the Madison County case, for example, the jury found that Vioxx was not the cause of the heart attack that killed a 5’2” tall, 280-pound 52-year-old woman, whose obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes, along with other health problems, likely contributed to her death. The deceased had used Vioxx for 20 months.

In prior articles, we have noted that Merck removed Vioxx from the market in 2004 because of increased risk of heart attacks and strokes.

Bruce Japsen’s article, entitled “10th win for Merck on Vioxx - Madison County jury gives drug giant 1st Midwest victory,” may be found in the Business Section of the March 28, 2007 edition of the Chicago Tribune.

Posted On: March 24, 2007 by Michael J. Hassen Email This Post

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Surge In Labor Law Class Action Lawsuits In Weekly California State And Federal Court Class Action Filings As Employment Class Action Cases Account For Nearly Half Of New Class Actions

To aid defense attorneys in anticipating the claims against which they may have to defend in California, we provide weekly, unofficial summaries of the legal categories for new class actions 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. Employment law class action cases generally top the list, often by a wide margin, and during the past that was particularly true. This report covers the time period from March 16 – March 22, 2007, during which time approximately 59 class action lawsuits were filed in these California state and federal courts. Labor law class action filings accounted for nearly half, with 27 new lawsuits (46%). The only other categories of cases to break the 10% threshold involved unfair competition law (UCL) claims, which include false advertising class action cases, and securities law claims, each of which had 7 new class action filings (12%).

Posted On: March 17, 2007 by Michael J. Hassen Email This Post

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Employment Law Class Action Lawsuits Regain Top Spot In Weekly California State And Federal Court Class Action Filings

In order to assist California defense attorneys in anticipating the claims against which they may have to defend, we provide weekly, unofficial summaries of the legal categories for new class actions 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. Typically, labor law class action cases lead the list of new filings by a wide margin, and this past week is no exception. This report covers the time period from March 9 – March 15, 2007. Approximately 45 class action lawsuits were filed in these California state and federal courts during that time period, 17 of which involve labor law claims (38%). Unfair competition law (UCL) claims, which include false advertising class action cases, came in second with 8 new filings (18%). The only other category of cases to break the 10% threshold involved antitrust class action lawsuits with 7 new filings (16%).

Posted On: March 11, 2007 by Michael J. Hassen Email This Post

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Antitrust Class Action Lawsuits Wrest Top Spot From Labor Law Class Action Cases In Weekly California State And Federal Court Class Action Filings

To assist California defense attorneys in anticipating the claims against which they may have to defend, we provide weekly, unofficial summaries of the legal categories for new class actions 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. Generally, more employment law class action cases are filed than any other category of cases, often leading other class action filings by a wide margin. This week, however, antitrust class action cases seized the top spot, while new labor law class actions fell to second.

This report covers the time period from March 1 – March 8, 2007. Approximately 58 class action lawsuits were filed in these California state and federal courts during that time period, of which 17 (29%) involved federal antitrust claims. There were 14 new employment law class action filings (24%). Claims under the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) came in third with 9 new filings (16%), almost all of which involved claims under the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACTA). The only other category of cases to break the 10% threshold involved unfair competition claims, which include claims for false advertising, with 8 new filings (14%).

Posted On: March 10, 2007 by Michael J. Hassen Email This Post

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Defense Attorneys Successfully Stave Off Labor Law Class Action Against Wal-Mart Alleging Failure To Provide Employees Breaks And Pay Overtime In Illinois State Court Case

Trial Court Denies Class Action Certification Motion In Illinois State Court Employment Law Class Action Case Holding that Plaintiffs’ Attorneys Failed to Provide a “Reasonable and Accurate Method of Calculating Damages on a Classwide Basis”

Only a month after the Ninth Circuit upheld certification of a sex discrimination class action against Wal-Mart involving upwards of 2 million class members, see Dukes v. Wal-Mart, Inc., 474 F.3d 1214 (9th Cir. 2007), an Illinois state court has sided with Wal-Mart’s defense attorneys and refused to grant class action status in a labor law cases alleging failure to pay overtime and failing to provide employee breaks. The Chicago Tribune reports that Rock Island County Judge Mark VandeWiele issued a 34-page opinion last Friday, March 9, 2007, denying plaintiff’s motion for class certification. The article quotes the opinion as holding that the plaintiffs “filed to demonstrate the existence of a reasonable and accurate method of calculating damages on a classwide basis.” The ruling is significant for Wal-Mart, particularly in light of substantial adverse jury verdicts in similar cases. In October 2006, a Pennsylvania jury awarded almost $80 million in damages in a rest breaks/overtime class action against Wal-Mart, and in 2005, a California jury awarded more than $170 million in a meal breaks class action against the company.

The news article, entitled “Judge denies Illinois Wal-Mart workers’ class action,” may be found in the Business Section of the March 10, 2007 edition of the Chicago Tribune.

Posted On: March 3, 2007 by Michael J. Hassen Email This Post

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Labor Law Class Action Filings Top New Class Action Cases Filed In California State And Federal Courts With Antitrust Class Action Lawsuits Coming In Second

To allow class action defense lawyers anticipate claims against which they may have to defend, we provide weekly, unofficial summaries of the legal categories for class actions 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. This report covers the time period from February 23 – February 28, 2007, and employment law class action cases held their familiar grip on the top spot in weekly class action filings.

As in the past, we include only those categories that include 10% or more of the class action filings during the relevant timeframe. Approximately 39 class action lawsuits were filed in these California state and federal courts during that time period, of which 12 (31%) involved employment-related claims. New antitrust class action cases came in second with 9 new filings (23%). The only other categories to break the 10% threshold consisted of 5 new unfair competition claims (13%), and 4 new securities laws class action cases (10%)

Posted On: February 25, 2007 by Michael J. Hassen Email This Post

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Labor Law Class Action Lawsuits Regain Top Spot In Weekly Class Action Filings In California State And Federal Courts With Public Accommodation/ADA And Antirust Class Action Lawsuits Close Behind

California defense attorneys will be confronted once again by a greater number of employment law class action cases than any other category, though public accommodation/ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) and antitrust class action lawsuits came close to keeping law labor class actions out of the top spot for a second consecutive week. In an effort to assist the class action defense lawyer in anticipating the claims against which she or he may have to defend, we provide weekly, unofficial summaries of the legal categories for new class actions 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 February 16 – February 22, 2007. Approximately 49 class action lawsuits were filed in these California state and federal courts during that time period. Employment law class action filings typically lead the list of new weekly lawsuits, often by a wide margin. This past week labor law class action cases regained the top spot with 12 new filings (24%). Public accommodation/ADA claims came in second with 9 new lawsuits (18%), with new antitrust class action lawsuits right behind at 8 new cases (16%). The only other category to break the 10% threshold involved federal securities laws class action claims, with 6 new actions (12%).

Posted On: February 17, 2007 by Michael J. Hassen Email This Post

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Public Accommodation/ADA Class Action Lawsuits And Federal Fair And Accurate Credit Reporting Act (FACTA) Class Action Cases Share Top Spot In Weekly Class Action Filings In California State And Federal Courts As Labor Law Class Actions Drop Dramatically

Defense attorneys in California are facing another wave of public accommodation/ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) class action cases, together with a surprising number of class action lawsuits alleging violations of the federal Fair and Accurate Credit Reporting Act (FACTA). The surge in class action cases falling within these two categories this past week coincide with a dramatic drop in employment law class action claims.

In an effort to assist class action defense attorneys in anticipating the claims against which they may have to defend, we provide weekly, unofficial summaries of the legal categories for new class actions 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. Employment law cases routinely lead the list and usually do so by a wide margin, but this past week they fell below the 10% threshold. Instead, class actions alleging public accommodation/ADA claims and FACTA claims easily claimed the top spot.

This report covers the time period from February 9 – February 15, 2007. Approximately 77 class action lawsuits were filed in these California state and federal courts during that time period, of which 21 (27%) involved public accommodation/ADA class action lawsuits, and an equal number involved Fair And Accurate Credit Transactions Act cases. Antitrust class action filings came in a distant third with 9 new cases (12%). The only other category of cases to break the 10% threshold involved securities fraud class actions, with 8 new filings (10%).

Posted On: February 11, 2007 by Michael J. Hassen Email This Post

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Employment Class Action Filings Again Top List But Federal Fair And Accurate Credit Reporting Act (FACTA) Class Action Cases Again Run Second In Weekly Class Action Filings In California State And Federal Courts

As is generally the case, class action defense attorneys in California will confront more labor law class action cases than any other category, but the number of class action lawsuits alleging violations of the federal Fair and Accurate Credit Reporting Act (FACTA) continue to surge. In an effort to assist class action defense attorneys in anticipating the claims against which they may have to defend, we provide weekly, unofficial summaries of the legal categories for new class actions 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. Employment law class action cases routinely lead the list by a wide margin, but recently a wave of class actions alleging violations of FACTA have been filed. This report covers the time period from February 2 – February 8, 2007. We include only those categories that include 10% or more of the class action filings during the relevant timeframe. Approximately 50 class action lawsuits were filed in these California state and federal courts during that time period, of which 18 (36%) involved employment-related claims. New FACTA class action lawsuits came in second with 12 new filings (24%). The third place category consists of 9 new antitrust claims (18%).

Posted On: February 5, 2007 by Michael J. Hassen Email This Post

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San Francisco's Paid Sick Leave Ordinance To Take Effect On February 5, 2007

On February 5, 2007, San Francisco's sweeping Paid Sick Leave Ordinance ("PSL") will take effect. The PSL Ordinance (Chapter 12W) was approved by 60% of San Francisco voters in the November election. San Francisco employers who do not comply with the PSL Ordinance will face stiff penalties and possible civil lawsuits with attorneys' fees recoverable.

All employers in San Francisco will be required to provide paid sick leave to all full-time, part-time and even temporary employees who work in San Francisco. Under the PSL Ordinance, employees accrue one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked (about 9 days per year for a full-time, non-exempt employee). Those employed as of February 5, 2007 will begin accruing paid sick leave as of that date. Those employed after February 5, 2007 will begin accruing paid sick leave 90 days into their employment. Employers may cap maximum accruals at 40 hours if they employ fewer than 10 employees and at 72 hours if they employ 10 or more employees. Unlike vacation benefits, paid sick leave does not need to be paid out when employees leave their employers.

Beginning February 5, 2007, employers must post the City's official notice of the PSL Ordinance in a conspicuous location in English, Spanish, Chinese and any other languages spoken by at least 5% of an employer's workforce in San Francisco. Under the PSL Ordinance, paid sick leave may be used to care for family members ("kin care"), which is more broadly defined than California's Labor Code and includes relatives such as siblings and grandparents. In addition, employees who do not have a spouse or registered domestic partner may once a year designate a person for whom the employee may use paid sick leave. Further, unlike current California law, an employee may use the entire amount of their sick leave for kin care.

Continue reading "San Francisco's Paid Sick Leave Ordinance To Take Effect On February 5, 2007" »

Posted On: February 2, 2007 by Michael J. Hassen Email This Post

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Labor Law Class Action Lawsuits Again Hold Top Spot In Weekly Class Action Filings In California State And Federal Courts With Public Accommodation/ADA Class Action Claims A Distant Second

Yet again California class action defense attorneys will face more new employment class action claims than any other category. In an effort to assist class action defense attorneys in anticipating the claims against which they may have to defend, we provide weekly, unofficial summaries of the legal categories for new class actions 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. Employment law cases routinely lead the list and usually do so by a wide margin. This past week was no exception. This report covers the time period from January 25 – January 31, 2007. We include only those categories that include 10% or more of the class action filings during the relevant timeframe. Approximately 39 class action lawsuits were filed in these California state and federal courts during that time period, of which 18 (46%) involved labor law claims. The only other category of cases to meet the 10% threshold was public accommodation/ADA class action lawsuits with 5 new cases (13%).

Posted On: January 26, 2007 by Michael J. Hassen Email This Post

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Labor Law Class Action Lawsuits Again Hold Top Spot In Weekly Class Action Filings In California State And Federal Courts But Class Actions Alleging Violations Of Federal Fair And Accurate Credit Transactions Act Come In A Close Second

Defense attorneys in California faced the familiar wave of employment law class action cases last week, but FACTA (Fair and Accurate Credit Transaction Act) cases ran a close second. In an effort to assist class action defense attorneys in anticipating the claims against which they may have to defend, we provide weekly, unofficial summaries of the legal categories for new class actions 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. Employment law cases routinely lead the list and usually do so by a wide margin, but this past week class action lawsuits alleging FACTA violations gave labor law class actions a run for their money. This report covers the time period from January 19 – January 25, 2007. We include only those categories that include 10% or more of the class action filings during the relevant timeframe. Approximately 52 class action lawsuits were filed in these California state and federal courts during that time period, 13 of which (25%) involved employment law claims. The area of law with the second most class action filings during that time period involved Fair Credit Reporting Act/Fair And Accurate Credit Transactions Act cases with 12 new filings (23%). Public accommodation/ADA class action lawsuits came in third with 9 new filings (17%). In a surprisingly balanced week for California class action filings, two other groups of class action claims passed the 10% threshold. Six new price fixing/antitrust class actions were filed (12%), as well as 5 new unfair competition (UCL) class actions (10%).

Posted On: January 19, 2007 by Michael J. Hassen Email This Post

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Merck's Vioxx Defense Team Suffers Setback As New Jersey Appellate Court Holds Trial Court "Prematurely Terminated" Class Action Complaint

Peter Loftus of The Wall Street Journal reports today that a New Jersey state appellate court has reversed a lower court ruling dismissing a putative class action against Merck on behalf of people who used Vioxx for at least six (6) weeks but who have not evidenced any medical problems. While the opinion is a setback for the Vioxx defense team, it does not appear to be a "tremendous decision" as viewed by plaintiffs' counsel. The New Jersey appellate court appears to be based on the decision that the trial court dismissed the class action claims "prematurely"; it held only that plaintiffs were entitled to additional discovery in an effort to prove whether they have a valid claim. Merck is reportedly considering whether to seek review in the New Jersey Supreme Court. Alternatively, defense attorneys may decide to let the plaintiffs conduct additional discovery and then renew the motion in the trial court, as there appears to be no medical evidence proving that people who stopped taking Vioxx more than two years ago remain at risk today.

Peter Loftus' article, entitled "New Jersey Appeals Court Revives Proposed Vioxx Class-Action Suit," may be found on page C15 of the January 17, 2007 edition of The Wall Street Journal. A more complete analysis of the case may be found in a separate article posted on this site on January 18, 2007.

Posted On: January 19, 2007 by Michael J. Hassen Email This Post

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Labor Law Class Action Cases Again Claim Top Spot In New Class Action Cases Facing Defense Attorneys In California

To aid California class action defense attorneys in anticipating claims against which they may have to defend, we provide weekly an unofficial summary of legal categories for class actions 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. This report covers the time period of from January 11 - January 18, 2007. We include only those categories that contain 10% or more of the class action filings during the relevant timeframe. Approximately 37 class action lawsuits were filed in these California state and federal courts during that time period - excluding the four (4) antitrust class action cases involving transferred into California by the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (MDL). Thirteen (13) of the weekly class action filings (35%) alleged employment law violations. Seven (7) of the new class action cases (19%) alleged unfair business practices or violations of California's unfair competition law (UCL). The only other category of cases to break the 10% threshold consisted of alleged violations of the federal Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACTA); California class action defense attorneys will face 6 new cases involving that area of law, which represents approximately 16% of the class actions filed during this time period.

Posted On: January 16, 2007 by Michael J. Hassen Email This Post

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Merck's Vioxx Defense Team Suffers Setback As New Jersey Appellate Court Holds Trial Court "Prematurely Terminated" Class Action Complaint

A state appellate court has ruled that a lower court prematurely dismissed a putative class action against Merck on behalf of people who used Vioxx for at least six (6) weeks but who have not evidenced any medical problems. While the opinion is a setback for the Vioxx defense team, the New Jersey appellate court held only that plaintiffs were entitled to additional discovery in an effort to prove whether they have a valid claim. Merck is reportedly considering whether to seek review in the New Jersey Supreme Court. Alternatively, defense attorneys may decide to let the plaintiffs conduct additional discovery and then renew the motion in the trial court, as there appears to be no medical evidence proving that people who stopped taking Vioxx more than two years ago remain at risk today.

Posted On: January 14, 2007 by Michael J. Hassen Email This Post

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Defense Loses Labor Law Class Action Against Chinese Daily News As Federal Jury Awards Employees $2.5 Million In Damages

Molly Selvin of the Los Angeles Times reports that a jury sitting in Los Angeles federal court awarded $2,500,000 to current and former employees of the Chinese Daily News, the largest Chinese-language newspaper in the United States, for violations of state and federal labor laws. The jury reportedly found that the newspaper failed to pay its employees overtime, or to allow meal and rest periods. Ms. Selvin notes that the class action lawsuit is "part of a wave of litigation that has produced multimillion-dollar settlements and verdicts in recent years." These class action suits typically allege that the employer has misclassified employees "giving them professional or managerial-like job titles to avoid paying overtime."

Molly Selvin's article, entitled "Newspaper Staff Wins Labor Suit," may be found in the Business Section of the January 13, 2007 edition of the Los Angeles Times.

Posted On: January 14, 2007 by Michael J. Hassen Email This Post

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Defense Loses Labor Law Class Action Against Chinese Daily News As Federal Jury Awards Employees $2.5 Million In Damages

Molly Selvin of the Los Angeles Times reports that a jury sitting in Los Angeles federal court awarded $2,500,000 to current and former employees of the Chinese Daily News, the largest Chinese-language newspaper in the United States, for violations of state and federal labor laws. The jury reportedly found that the newspaper failed to pay its employees overtime, or to allow meal and rest periods. Ms. Selvin notes that the class action lawsuit is "part of a wave of litigation that has produced multimillion-dollar settlements and verdicts in recent years." These class action suits typically allege that the employer has misclassified employees "giving them professional or managerial-like job titles to avoid paying overtime."

Molly Selvin's article, entitled "Newspaper Staff Wins Labor Suit," may be found in the Business Section of the January 13, 2007 edition of the Los Angeles Times.

Posted On: January 13, 2007 by Michael J. Hassen Email This Post

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Employment Class Action Filings Again Top List But Surge In Federal Fair And Accurate Credit Reporting Act (FACTA) Class Action Cases Run A Close Second In Weekly Class Action Filings In California State And Federal Courts

Class action defense attorneys in California will again confront more labor law class action cases than any other category, but the number of class action lawsuits alleging violations of the federal Fair and Accurate Credit Reporting Act (FACTA) have surged. In an effort to assist class action defense attorneys in anticipating the claims against which they may have to defend, we provide weekly, unofficial summaries of the legal categories for new class actions 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. Employment law class action cases routinely lead the list and usually do so by a wide margin, but this past week class actions alleging violations of FACTA ran a close second. This report covers the time period from January 4 – January 11, 2007. We include only those categories that include 10% or more of the class action filings during the relevant timeframe. Approximately 59 class action lawsuits were filed in these California state and federal courts during that time period, of which 19 (32%) involved employment-related claims. New FACTA class action lawsuits came in second with 18 new filings (31%). The third place category consists of 9 new unfair competition claims (15%), most of which involved alleged price fixing/antitrust violations.

Posted On: January 12, 2007 by Michael J. Hassen Email This Post

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San Francisco Federal Court Certifies Class Action Against Costco In Lawsuit Alleging Gender Discrimination In The Promotion Of Female Employees

On January 11, 2007, federal district court judge Marilyn Hall Patel granted class action status to a lawsuit brought against Costco Wholesale on behalf of female employees. The lawsuit alleges that Costco discriminates against women in its promotion practices, and alleges that less than 16% of Costco's general managers are women. The class representatives include two women who worked for Costco more than 20 years, one becoming a warehouse receiving manager and one an assistant manager, and who claim they were passed over for promotion to general manager because of their gender. The lawsuit, Ellis v. Costco Wholesale Corp., N.D. Cal. Case No. C04-3341, was filed in 2004.

Posted On: January 10, 2007 by Michael J. Hassen Email This Post

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MARK YOUR CALENDARS - CLASS ACTION DEFENSE CONFERENCE COMING TO SAN FRANCISCO

The American Conference Institute is sponsoring a two-day seminar on defending consumer fraud litigation. The conference will be held in San Francisco on May 21 and 22, 2007, and several class action topics will be on the agenda. The details are still being finalized so information on the conference is not yet available at ACI's website. We will periodically post reminders and updates on the conference, as it promises to be well worthwhile.


More information about the American Conference Institute may be found at its website: www.americanconference.com.