Posted On: August 28, 2010 by Michael J. Hassen Email This Post

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Labor Law Class Actions Retain Top Spot Among New Class Action Lawsuits Filed 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, 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 August 20 - 26, 2010, during which time 56 new class actions were filed in these California state and federal courts. While labor law class actions often account for more than half of all new class actions filed in these courts, this past week only 26 new labor law class actions were filed, representing 46% of the total number of new class actions filed. The only other categories to break the 10% threshold involved claims under California's Unfair Competition Law (UCL), which includes false advertising claims, with 13 new filings (representing 23% of the total number of new class actions filed), and alleged violations of federal securities laws, with 8 new filings (representing 14% of the total number of new class actions filed).

Posted On: August 21, 2010 by Michael J. Hassen Email This Post

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Surge In ADA Class Action Filings Insufficient To Dislodge Labor Law Class Actions From Top Spot Among 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 August 13 - 19, 2010, during which time 56 new class actions were filed in these California state and federal courts. Labor law class actions generally top the list often accounting for more than half of all new class actions filed in these courts, but a surge in ADA class action filings coupled with balanced filings among several other categories caused employment-related class action cases to fall below 50%. During this reporting period, 22 new labor law class actions were filed, representing only 39% of the total number of new class actions filed. The only other category to break the 10% threshold involved claims under the American's with Disabilities Act (ADA), with 16 new filings (representing 29% of the total number of new class actions filed).

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

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New Labor Law Class Action Lawsuits Again Claim Top Spot Among Categories Of 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 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. This report covers the time period from August 6 - 12, 2010, during which time 48 new class actions were filed in these California state and federal courts. Labor law class actions often account for more than half of all class actions filed in any particular week, and during this reporting period 27 new class actions (representing 56% of the total number of new class actions filed). The only other category to break the 10% threshold involved California's Unfair Competition Law (UCL), which includes false advertising with 11 new filings (representing 23% of the total number of new class actions filed).

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

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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

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. Id., at 224. Lead Plaintiff moved the district court for authorization to distribute the cy pres funds “to The Peggy Browning Fund, a private, nonsectarian, not-for-profit organization with 501(c)(3) tax-deductible status.” Id. The federal court denied the motion because plaintiff sought “to disburse settlement funds to a non-profit organization with little connection to the harms class members suffered,” id. Because the author has received numerous inquiries from defense and plaintiff counsel concerning the proper scope of a cy pres fund, we include this article on the district court’s ruling.

The district court noted that the proper inquiry was to “determine whether the Peggy Browning Fund is an appropriate recipient of any residual settlement funds” of the class action settlement. In re American Tower Corp., at 224. The court explained that the purpose of the use of a cy pres fund is effect a distribution of class action settlement funds “to a ‘next-best’ recipient” when it is impractical to distribute the settlement funds to the class members. Id., at 224-25 (citing In re Airline Ticket Commission Antitrust Litig., 268 F.3d 619, 626 (8th Cir.2001)). “‘In such cases, the court, guided by the parties' original purpose, directs that the unclaimed funds be distributed for the prospective benefit of the class.’” Id. (citation omitted). The federal court easily concluded, then, that the Peggy Browning Fund was “an inappropriate recipient of any unclaimed class funds.” Id. “Disbursement of unclaimed funds must have some relationship to the harm suffered by class members…. However, the Peggy Browning Fund focuses on labor issues…. Therefore, it does not appear that funds donated to the Peggy Browning Fund would benefit the class or address the harms suffered by class members.Id. (italics added). The district court therefore denied the motion, without prejudice to Lead Plaintiff renewing the request and noting that Lead Plaintiff “should, if possible, propose a national organization whose work relates to the harm suffered by class members in this case.” Id.

NOTE: The author notes that trial courts are far too willing to authorize the distribution of cy pres funds to practically any organization. In such cases, the courts appear to be more interested in punishing the defendant than in effecting a distribution of funds to the “next-best” recipient.

Download PDF file of In re American Tower Corp. Securities Litigation

Posted On: August 13, 2010 by Michael J. Hassen Email This Post

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CAFA Class Action Defense Cases–In re Burlington Northern: Seventh Circuit Reverses Remand Of Former Class Action Holding Jurisdiction Under Class Action Fairness Act (CAFA) Determined At Time Of Removal Not After Amendment Of Complaint To Eliminate

Following Removal of Class Action to Federal Court under CAFA (Class Action Fairness Act), Plaintiffs Decision to Amend Complaint to Eliminate Class Action Allegations did not Destroy Federal Court Jurisdiction because Jurisdiction is Determined at Time of Removal and is not Affected by Subsequent Events Seventh Circuit Holds

Plaintiffs filed a putative class action in Wisconsin state court against Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway Company and Burlington Northern Santa Fe Corporation alleging that defendants’ “failure to inspect and maintain a railroad trestle caused the town to flood in July 2007, damaging their property.” In re Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway Co., 606 F.3d 379, 379-80 (7th Cir. 2010). Defense attorneys removed the class action to federal court under CAFA (Class Action Fairness Act); plaintiffs then amended the complaint to remove the class action allegations and the district court remanded the matter to state court on the ground that without the class action allegations federal court jurisdiction was lacking under CAFA. Id., at 379. Id. Defense attorneys sought leave to appeal the remand order; the Seventh Circuit granted the petition and reversed.

The Seventh Circuit noted that “the parties battled extensively over jurisdiction” in the district court. In re Burlington, at 380. Defense attorneys argued diversity jurisdiction existed because the joinder of the non-diverse individual employee defendants was fraudulent, but the district court found it to be tactical rather than fraudulent. Id. The district court agreed, however, that jurisdiction existed under CAFA, and denied plaintiffs’ first motion to remand. Id. Plaintiffs thereafter sought and obtained leave of court to amend the complaint to remove the class action allegations. Id. The federal court also considered the motion to amend to be “an implied motion to remand the case, which it granted.” Id. In the district court’s view, because the amended complaint did not contain any class action allegations, jurisdiction under CAFA no longer existed. Id.

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Posted On: August 7, 2010 by Michael J. Hassen Email This Post

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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

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. Labor law class actions generally top the list often accounting for more than half of all new class actions filed in these courts, and this yet again proved to be true. During this reporting period, 31 new labor law class actions were filed (representing 57% of the total number of new class actions filed). The only other category to break the 10% threshold involved California's Unfair Competition Law (UCL), which includes false advertising with 10 new filings (representing 19% of the total number of new class actions filed).