Posted On: March 26, 2011 by Michael J. Hassen Email This Post

Bookmark and Share

Dramatic Drop In Song-Beverly Class Actions Allows Labor Law Class Action Filings To Reclaim Top Spot Among Weekly Class Action Filings 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 time frame. This report covers the time period from March 18 - 24, 2011, during which time 67 new class actions were filed in these courts. Normally, labor law class actions account for more than half of the new class actions filed each week, but during the past several weeks Song-Beverly Act lawsuits have predominated the class action landscape. Apparently, plaintiffs' counsel have run out of companies to sue, as Song-Beverly Act claims dropped dramatically. During this reporting period, 26 new labor law class actions filed, representing a relatively low 39% of the total number of new class actions filed, but good enough to claim the top spot among weekly class action filings. The only other categories to break the 10% threshold involved class actions alleging violations of California's Unfair Competition Law (UCL), which includes false advertising claims, with 10 new filings (15% of the total number of new class actions filed), and class actions alleging Song-Beverly Act violations with 8 new filings (12% of the total number of new class actions filed).

Posted On: March 24, 2011 by Michael J. Hassen Email This Post

Bookmark and Share

Class Action Defense Cases–Pineda v. Williams-Sonoma: California Supreme Court Holds ZIP Codes Constitute “Personal Identifiable Information” Within Meaning Of California’s Song-Beverly Act

Trial Court Erred in Dismissing Class Action Complaint because Retailer Request for ZIP Codes Violated Song-Beverly Consumer Protection Statute California Supreme Court Holds

Plaintiff filed a putative class action against retailer Williams-Sonoma alleging that it violated California’s Song-Beverly Credit Card Act of 1971 (one of the State’s consumer protection statutes) by asking her for her ZIP code at the time of her purchase. Pineda v. Williams-Sonoma Stores, Inc., 51 Cal.4th 524 (Cal. 2011) [Slip Opn., at 1]. In relevant part, Song-Beverly “prohibits businesses from requesting that cardholders provide ‘personal identification information’ during credit card transactions, and then recording that information.” Id. According to the allegations underlying the class action complaint, plaintiff provided her ZIP code because she believed it was required in order to complete her credit card purchase. Id., at 1-2. More importantly, the class action alleged that Williams-Sonoma “subsequently used her name and ZIP code to locate her home address.” Id., at 2. Defense attorneys demurred to the class action complaint on the grounds that a ZIP code is not personal identification information within the meaning of Song-Beverly. Id., at 3. The trial court sustained the demurrer, and the Court of Appeal affirmed based, in part, on Party City Corp. v. Superior Court, 169 Cal.App.4th 497 (Cal.App. 2008), which had previously held that “a ZIP code, without more, does not constitute personal identification information.” Id., at 3-4 (citation omitted). The California Supreme Court granted review and reversed.

As noted above, the class action complaint alleged that defendant requested that customers provide ZIP codes at point of sale. Pineda, at 2-3. The thrust of the class action complaint was that “[a]t the end of the transaction, defendant had plaintiff’s credit card number, name, and ZIP code recorded in its database.” Id., at 3. The Supreme Court summarized the critical facts as follows: “Defendant subsequently used customized computer software to perform reverse searches from databases that contain millions of names, e-mail addresses, telephone numbers, and street addresses, and that are indexed in a manner resembling a reverse telephone book. The software matched plaintiff’s name and ZIP code with plaintiff’s previously undisclosed address, giving defendant the information, which it now maintains in its own database. Defendant uses its database to market products to customers and may also sell the information it has compiled to other businesses.Id. (italics added). It is undisputed that defendant could not, consistent with Song-Beverly, have asked plaintiff for her home address; the issue presented was whether defendant could, consistent with Song-Beverly, have asked plaintiff for her ZIP code and then use it to obtain her home address.

Continue reading "Class Action Defense Cases–Pineda v. Williams-Sonoma: California Supreme Court Holds ZIP Codes Constitute “Personal Identifiable Information” Within Meaning Of California’s Song-Beverly Act" »

Posted On: March 19, 2011 by Michael J. Hassen Email This Post

Bookmark and Share

Creating A Class Action System–What A Country Should Consider

An Introduction To Issues That Must Be Addressed By Any Country Considering Enacting Or Modifying Class Action Legislation

Several countries are considering the use of class action lawsuits. This article’s purpose is to identify the important issues one should consider in evaluating the fairness and efficacy of class action litigation.

A class action lawsuit can be devastating. The staggering costs of merely defending against one — let alone the cost of actually losing — have forced many American corporations into bankruptcy or caused their management teams to be replaced. The U.S. Supreme Court has recognized that class action discovery can be a form of extortion; it can force a company to surrender and settle a lawsuit, because it cannot afford to properly defend itself.

When it devised the class action lawsuit as a procedure to streamline civil litigation, Congress did not anticipate it would be used as a weapon to injure companies which may have technically violated that law, but not caused any harm. In California, alone, up to 100 class action lawsuits are filed every week — thousands every year. Most are not properly class actions in the true sense; they are not legal proceedings in which persons represent interests common to a large group of persons who have been actually injured. Instead, most are premised on the technical violation of some statute, where the supposed violation has not actually harmed anyone. Frequently, an attorney files a class action so he can compel defendants to settle it, and he can demand attorney fees as a direct result. Essentially, most class action lawsuits are “attorney fee motions” disguised as “legitimate” lawsuits.

A country considering implementing a class action system should learn from our flawed system. The author cannot address all of the factors a country should consider in determining whether to implement a class action procedure, or what limits to impose to prevent lawsuits from being filed for the sake of generating attorney fees rather than helping injured people. But the author hopes it will give legislative bodies pause to consider consequences that follow class action litigation.

Continue reading "Creating A Class Action System–What A Country Should Consider" »

Posted On: March 19, 2011 by Michael J. Hassen Email This Post

Bookmark and Share

New Song-Beverly Class Action Filings Slashed In Half Yet Retain Top Spot Among Weekly Class Actions 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 time frame. This report covers the time period from March 11 - 17, 2011, during which time 81 class actions were filed in these courts. The effect of the California Supreme Court's Song-Beverly opinion continues to be felt, as it precipitated the filing of another 21 new class actions alleging violations of Song-Beverly -- well below the 43 Song-Beverly class actions filed during the last reporting period, but representing 26% of the total number of new class actions filed during this reporting period and good enough to hold onto the top spot among class actions filed during the past week. The only other categories to break the 10% threshold involved class actions alleging labor law claims, which came in a close second with 18 new class actions (22% of the total number of new class actions filed) and violations of California's Unfair Competition Law (UCL), which includes false advertising claims, with 14 new filings (17% of the total number of new class actions filed).

Posted On: March 12, 2011 by Michael J. Hassen Email This Post

Bookmark and Share

Lull Before The Storm: Song-Beverly Class Action Filings Soar And Retain Top Spot Among Weekly Class Actions 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 time frame. This report covers the time period from March 4 - 10, 2011, during which time a record 98 class actions were filed in these courts. The California Supreme Court's recent Song-Beverly opinion continues to fuel the filing of lawsuits, and this past week a stunning 43 new class actions were filed alleging violations of Song-Beverly, representing 44% of the total number of new class actions filed during this reporting period. The only other categories to break the 10% threshold involved class actions alleging labor law claims with 21 new class actions (21% of the total number of new class actions filed) and violations of California's Unfair Competition Law (UCL), which includes false advertising claims, with 17 new filings (17% of the total number of new class actions filed).

Posted On: March 5, 2011 by Michael J. Hassen Email This Post

Bookmark and Share

Slight Decrease In Song-Beverly Class Action Filings But Still Top Labor Law Class Actions Among Weekly Class Action Filings 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 time frame. This report covers the time period from February 25 - March 3, 2011, during which time a remarkably high number of class actions (74) were filed in these courts. The California Supreme Court's recent Song-Beverly opinion precipitated the filing of 27 new class actions alleging violations of Song-Beverly, representing 36% of the total number of new class actions filed during this reporting period. The only other categories to break the 10% threshold involved class actions alleging labor law claims with 21 new class actions (28% of the total number of new class actions filed) and violations of California's Unfair Competition Law (UCL), which includes false advertising claims, with 8 new filings (11% of the total number of new class actions filed).