Posted On: April 30, 2011 by Michael J. Hassen Email This Post

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New Labor Law Class Action Filings Drop Below 50% Mark But 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 April 22 - 28, 2011, during which time the total number of class actions filed in these courts dropped to more "normal" levels. There were 69 new class actions were filed in these courts during this reporting period, and 26 of them (38% of the total number of new class actions filed) involved employment-related claims. The only other category to break the 10% threshold involved class actions alleged violations of California's Unfair Competition Law (UCL), which includes false advertising claims, with 13 new filings (19% of the total number of new class actions filed).

Posted On: April 28, 2011 by Michael J. Hassen Email This Post

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Federal Arbitration Act (FAA) Class Action Defense Cases–AT&T Mobility v. Concepcion: U.S. Supreme Court Reverses California’s Discover Bank Rule And Holds Class Action Waivers Valid And Enforceable In Arbitration Agreements

Class Action Waivers in Arbitration Agreements are Valid under Federal Arbitration Act (FAA) and California’s Discover Bank Rule, Which Found Such Waivers Unenforceable as Unconscionable Under State Law, is Preempted by the FAA Supreme Court Holds

Plaintiffs filed a putative class action in California federal court against AT&T Mobility, with whom they had cellular telephone service, alleging “false advertising and fraud by charging sales tax on phones it advertised as free.” AT&T Mobility LLC v. Concepcion, ___ U.S. ___ (April 27, 2011) [Slip Opn., at 2-3]. According to the allegations underlying the class action complaint, plaintiffs purchased cellular telephone service from AT&T based on an advertisement for “free phones” because, even though they were not charged for the telephones, “they were charged $30.22 in sales tax based on the phones’ retail value.” Id. Defense attorneys moved to compel arbitration, id., at 3. The cellular telephone service contract required arbitration of disputes between the parties and included a class action waiver, providing that claims must be brought in a “individual capacity, and not as a plaintiff or class member in any purported class or representative proceeding.” Id., at 1. Plaintiffs opposed arbitration on the grounds that the class action waiver was unconscionable under California law. Id., at 3. Despite viewing the arbitration agreement “favorably,” the district court denied AT&T’s motion to compel arbitration because the class action waiver rendered the arbitration clause unconscionable under California law based on Discover Bank v. Superior Court, 36 Cal.4th 148 (Cal. 2005). Id. The Ninth Circuit affirmed, holding that “the Discover Bank rule was not preempted by the FAA because that rule was simply a ‘refinement of the unconscionability analysis applicable to contracts generally in California.’” Id., at 3-4 (citing Laster v. AT&T Mobility LLC, 584 F.3d 849, 857 (9th Cir. 2009). The Supreme Court granted certiorari and reversed.

The service agreement was consumer-friendly: It provided that a customer could initiate a dispute by filling out a one-page form available online, and if not resolved to the customer’s satisfaction within 30 days, the customer could initiate arbitration by filling out another form available online. If a customer commenced arbitration proceedings, the arbitration would be held “in the county in which the customer is billed” and AT&T was required to “pay all costs for nonfrivolous claims.” AT&T Mobility, at 2. (The customer could also elect to proceed in small claims court. Id.) Moreover, if the amount in dispute was less than $10,000, then the customer could elect whether the arbitration should be conducted “in person, by telephone, or based only on submissions.” Id. Additionally, “the arbitrator may award any form of individual relief, including injunctions and presumably punitive damages.” Id. AT&T was prohibited from seeking reimbursement of its attorney fees, and “in the event that a customer receives an arbitration award greater than AT&T’s last written settlement offer,” then the service agreement “requires AT&T to pay a $7,500 minimum recovery and twice the amount of the claimant’s attorney’s fees.” Id. (footnote omitted). Yet despite what appears to have been every effort to craft an arbitration clause favorable to its customer, albeit prohibiting class actions, the lower courts found the arbitration clause unconscionable and unenforceable under the Discover Bank rule. The Supreme Court reversed.

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Posted On: April 23, 2011 by Michael J. Hassen Email This Post

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New Labor Law Class Action Filings Finally Hit 50% Mark, Easily Topping List Of New Class Actions 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 time frame. This report covers the time period from April 15 - 21, 2011, during which time the total number of class actions filed in these courts dropped to more "normal" levels. There were 52 new class actions were filed in these courts during this reporting period, and 27 of them (52% of the total number of new class actions filed) involved employment-related claims. This is the first time this year that labor law class actions have passed the 50% mark -- a level it frequently hit in past years. 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 12 new filings (23% of the total number of new class actions filed), and class actions alleging violations of federal securities laws with 7 new filings (13% of the total number of new class actions filed).

Posted On: April 16, 2011 by Michael J. Hassen Email This Post

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Labor Law Class Action Filings Fall To Only 30% Of New Class Actions But Retain Top Spot Among Weekly Class Action Filings In California State And Federal Courts

To aid defense attorneys in anticipating the types of class actions 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 April 8 - 14, 2011, during which time 79 new class actions were filed in these courts. It appears that labor law class actions may not return to the prior "norm" of accounting for more than half of the total number of new class actions filed in California state and federal courts each week. During this reporting period, only 24 new labor law class actions were filed, representing only 30% of the total number of new class actions filed. 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 21 new filings (27% of the total number of new class actions filed), and class actions alleging violations of federal securities laws with 10 new filings (13% of the total number of new class actions filed).

Posted On: April 9, 2011 by Michael J. Hassen Email This Post

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New Labor Law Class Action Filings Inch Closer To 50% Mark And Retain Top Spot Among Weekly Class Action Filings 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 April 1 - 7, 2011, during which time 65 new class actions were filed in these courts. In past years, class actions involvement employment-related claims often accounted for more than half of the total number of new class actions filed in California state and federal courts each week, but this level has not yet been realized this year. However, the numbers are getting closer. During this reporting period, 32 new labor law class actions filed, representing 49% of the total number of new class actions filed. The only other category to break the 10% threshold involved class actions alleging violations of federal securities laws with 9 new filings (14% of the total number of new class actions filed).

Posted On: April 2, 2011 by Michael J. Hassen Email This Post

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Labor Law Class Actions Remain Below 50% But Retain Top Spot Among Weekly Class Action Filings In California State And Federal Courts

To assist class action defense attorneys anticipate the types of lawsuits 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 25 - 31, 2011, during which time 77 new class actions were filed in these courts. The California Supreme Court decision dramatically expanding the apparent reach of the Song-Beverly Act is the cause of the abnormally high number of class actions filed these past few weeks. During this reporting period, 27 new labor law class actions filed, representing a relatively low 35% of the total number of new class actions filed, but good enough to retain the top spot among weekly class action filings. 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 13 new filings (17% of the total number of new class actions filed), class actions alleging Song-Beverly Act violations with 11 new filings (14% of the total number of new class actions filed), and class actions alleging violations of federal securities laws with 8 new filings (10% of the total number of new class actions filed).