Posted On: May 29, 2010 by Michael J. Hassen Email This Post

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New Labor Law Class Action Filings Remain Below Normal But Retain Top Spot Of New Class Action Lawsuits Filed In California State And Federal Courts

To assist class action defense attorneys anticipate the types of cases against which they will have to defend, 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 May 21 - 27, 2010, during which time 48 new class actions were filed in these California state and federal courts. While labor law class actions generally top the list by a wide margin -- often accounting for more than half of the new class action filings in any particular week -- this past week only 20 new labor law class actions were filed, representing only 42% of the total number of new class actions filed. The only other category to break the 10% threshold involved alleged violations of California's Unfair Competition Law (UCL), which includes false advertising claims, with 5 new filings (representing 10% of the total number of new class actions filed).

Posted On: May 15, 2010 by Michael J. Hassen Email This Post

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Labor Law Class Action Filings Below Normal But Hold Top Spot Of New Class Action Lawsuits Filed In California State And Federal Courts

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 May 7 - 13, 2010, during which time 51 new class actions were filed in these California state and federal courts. While labor law class actions generally top the list by a wide margin -- often accounting for more than half of the new class action filings in any particular week -- this past week only 22 new labor law class actions were filed, representing only 43% of the total number of new class actions filed. Three other categories managed to break the 10% threshold: class actions alleging violations of California's Unfair Competition Law (UCL), which includes false advertising claims, with 9 new filings (representing 18% of the total number of new class actions filed); class actions against Toyota arising out of alleged product defects, with 7 new filings (14% of the total number of new class actions filed); and class actions alleging violations of federal securities laws, with 5 new filings (10% of the total number of new class actions filed).

Posted On: May 14, 2010 by Michael J. Hassen Email This Post

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Toyota Acceleration Class Action Defense Cases–In re Toyota: Judicial Panel On Multidistrict Litigation (MDL) Grants Plaintiff Motion To Centralize Class Action Litigation In Central District Of California

Judicial Panel Grants One Plaintiff’s Request for Pretrial Coordination of Class Action Lawsuits Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1407 in Central District of California, Rejecting Competing Request of Plaintiff in Different Class Action to Centralize Lawsuits in Eastern District of Louisiana

Eleven class actions – five in California, three in Louisiana, and one each in the Middle and Southern Districts of Florida and in West Virginia – were filed against various Toyota Motor entities arising out of product defect liability claims: “Each of the actions…asserts economic damages on behalf of certain classes and/or individuals stemming from an alleged defect in certain Toyota vehicles that causes sudden, unintended acceleration.” In re Toyota Motor Corp. Unintended Acceleration Marketing, Sales Prac., & Prods. Liab. Litig., ___ F.Supp.2d ___ (Jud.Pan.Mult.Lit. April 9.2010) [Slip Opn., at 1, 2] . At least 100 additional class actions also had been filed, and were treated as potential tag-along cases. Id., at 1 n.1. Attorneys for plaintiffs in one of the California class actions filed a motion with the Judicial Panel for Multidistrict Litigation (MDL) requesting centralization of the class actions pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1407 in the Central District of California, where their class action was pending. Id., at 1. Attorneys for plaintiffs in one of the Louisiana class actions filed a competing motion with the Panel requesting centralization of the class actions in the Eastern District of Louisiana, where their class action was pending. Id. The Judicial Panel observed, “Though these cases have attracted an unusual amount of publicity to the Panel’s work, in all relevant aspects, the issues here are neither dramatically different nor more complex than those we regularly resolve.” Id. The responses filed with the Panel were, literally, all over the map: the defendants, together with plaintiffs in the other California class actions and in 8 of the tag-along cases, supported centralization in California; plaintiffs in 5 other tag-along cases supported centralization in Louisiana; plaintiffs in other pending and tag-along cases supported centralization but argued in support of any of 15 other transferee courts. Id. The Panel also received conflicting briefs as to whether to include personal injury and wrongful death cases within the scope of any centralization order. Id., at 2. Additionally, the Panel noted additional concerns raised by various parties, such as “whether one judge or a particular judge would have the necessary time and resources to handle such a complex, multi-faceted MDL” or whether “the individual personal injury cases might become sidetracked by larger, more complex class action economic loss cases.” Id. The Panel recognized that “[t]hese are absolutely legitimate concerns,” but nonetheless believed that “the federal judiciary is well equipped to handle this litigation under Section 1407.” Id.

The Judicial Panel granted the motion to centralize the class action lawsuits, explaining at page 2: “The cases involve common questions of fact. No doubt, centralization under Section 1407 will eliminate duplicative discovery; prevent inconsistent pretrial rulings, including with respect to class certification; and conserve the resources of the parties, their counsel, and the judiciary. Consequently, centralization will create convenience for the parties and witnesses and will promote the more just and efficient conduct of this litigation.” In re Toyota, at 2. The Panel also opted to include the personal injury and wrongful death cases with the economic damage cases, explaining that this ruling was without prejudice to “any later-filed motion to vacate a conditional transfer order in this docket,” because even though “the personal injury and wrongful death claims will require considerable individual discovery in addition to the common discovery in each case,” the Panel was “confident that the transferee judge can design the kind of distinct discovery tracks often employed to address these concerns.” Id. In considering the appropriate transferee court, the Panel agreed that the Central District of California was most appropriate because “Toyota maintains its United States corporate headquarters within this district, and relevant documents and witnesses are likely located there” and because “[f]ar more actions are pending there than in any other district.” Id., at 3. Accordingly, the Panel ordered all of the class actions pending outside the Central District of California be transferred to that district, id.

Download PDF file of In re Toyota Motor Corp. Unintended Acceleration Marketing, Sales Prac., & Prods. Liab. Litigation Transfer Order

Posted On: May 10, 2010 by Michael J. Hassen Email This Post

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Class Action Arbitration Defense Cases–Stolt-Nielsen v. AnimalFeeds: Supreme Court Holds Federal Arbitration Act (FAA) Requires Agreement To Arbitrate Claims Brought As Class Action

Party to Arbitration Clause Governed b y FAA (Federal Arbitration Act) may not be Compelled to Arbitrate Class Action Claims where Arbitration Clause is Silent on Class Action Arbitration Supreme Court Holds

Plaintiff AnimalFeeds is a company that “supplies raw ingredients, such as fish oil, to animal-feed producers around the world”; “AnimalFeeds ships its goods pursuant to a standard contract known in the maritime trade as a charter party.” Stolt-Nielsen S. A. v. AnimalFeeds Int’l Corp., ___ U.S. ___ (April 27, 2010) [Slip Opn., at 1]. Defendants are various “shipping companies that serve a large share of the world market for parcel tankers—seagoing vessels with compartments that are separately chartered to customers wishing to ship liquids in small quantities.” Id. The charterers – like plaintiff – “typically select the particular charter party that governs their shipments”-- not the shipowners. Id., at 2. And the contracts here at issue contained an arbitration clause that was silent as to the availability of class action relief in any arbitration, id. After a Department of Justice criminal investigation uncovered an illegal price-fixing conspiracy among the defendants, plaintiff filed a class action complaint in federal district court alleging antitrust violations. Id., at 2-3. The Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation eventually consolidated the class action with similar class action lawsuits brought by other charterers. Id., at 3. The parties agreed that plaintiff must arbitrate the antitrust dispute, and plaintiff served defendants with a demand for class action arbitration in New York. Id. Defendants argued that class action relief was unavailable under the arbitration clause because “[a]ll the parties agree that when a contract is silent on an issue there’s been no agreement that has been reached on that issue”; the parties agreed to submit the question of class arbitration to a panel of three arbitrators. Id., at 3-4. The arbitrators disagreed and concluded that class action relief could be had under the arbitration clause. Id., at 4. Defendants moved the district court to vacate the arbitrators’ award; the district court agreed with defendants that the arbitrators’ decision constituted a “manifest disregard” of federal maritime law and accordingly vacated the award. Id., at 4-5. The Second Circuit reversed on the ground that “because [defendants] had cited no authority applying a federal maritime rule of custom and usage against class arbitration, the arbitrators’ decision was not in manifest disregard of federal maritime law.” Id., at 5. The Supreme Court granted certiorari “to decide whether imposing class arbitration on parties whose arbitration clauses are ‘silent’ on that issue is consistent with the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA), 9 U. S. C. §1 et seq.” Id., at 1. The High Court reversed.

Continue reading "Class Action Arbitration Defense Cases–Stolt-Nielsen v. AnimalFeeds: Supreme Court Holds Federal Arbitration Act (FAA) Requires Agreement To Arbitrate Claims Brought As Class Action" »

Posted On: May 8, 2010 by Michael J. Hassen Email This Post

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From Extremes To Balance...New Class Action Lawsuits Bunched Into Three Groups But Labor Law Class Actions Barely Hold Top Spot Of New Class Action Filings During Past Week In California State And Federal Courts

To assist class action defense attorneys anticipate the types of claims against which they will have to defend in California courts, 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 April 30 - May 6, 2010, during which time 50 new class actions were filed in these California state and federal courts. New labor law class actions often account for more than half of the new class action filings in any particular week, and last week was the only case that broke the 10% reporting threshold. This past week, however, there was remarkable balance in the filing of new class actions, with labor law class actions just taking the top spot with 12 new filings, representing only 24% of the total number of new class actions filed -- the lowest percentage in a very long time. Two other categories of cases broke the 10% threshold, with Unfair Competition Law (UCL) claims, which include false advertising claims, coming in a close second with 11 new filings (22%), and class action alleging securities fraud coming in third with 9 new filings (18%).

Posted On: May 1, 2010 by Michael J. Hassen Email This Post

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Pendulum Swings On Variety Of Class Action Filings During Past Week With Only Labor Law Class Action Filings Meeting Reporting Threshold For New Class Action Lawsuits Filed In California State And Federal Courts

As a resource for 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 April 23 - 29, 2010, during which time 52 new class actions were filed in these California state and federal courts. New class actions alleging employment-related claims often account for more than half of the new class action filings in any particular week, though this not been true for the past several weeks. And last week we saw class action filings that covered a wide range of topics, with class actions covering four different categories meeting the 10% reporting threshold. But this past week only labor law class actions hit the 10% threshold, with 28 new filings, representing only 54% of the total number of new class actions filed.