- In the just-out eighth edition of the Cato Handbook for Policymakers, I helped revise and add to the chapter on tort and class action reform, joining Robert A. Levy and Mark Moller as authors;
- Baron & Budd “Preparing For Your Deposition” asbestos memo still being fought over in court 20 years later [David Yates/Southeast Texas Record, my piece back when]
- “Wanted in Kentucky, seemingly immune to arrest in Ohio” [James McNair, CityBeat on Stan Chesley]
- Congress needs to rewrite the law on multi-district litigation or else the lawyerly gamesmanship will continue [James Beck, Drug and Device Law]
- While generally critical of class action reform proposals in Congress, Alison Frankel does find one idea in it — accounting for class action payouts — to be intriguing [Reuters]
- “New Jersey, Allstate sue chiropractors convicted of running ‘personal injury mill'” [Susan K. Livio, NJ.com]
- Florida convict blames Verizon for letting him steal man’s identity [WFTV]
- Carving the carcass: class-action lawyers’ fee-ing frenzy [Boston Globe, Daniel Fisher]
- Allianz report on state of directors and officers’ liability insurance market;
- Disbarred “Master of Disaster” Stanley Chesley fights paying victims of fen-phen settlement fraud [James Pilcher, Cincinnati Enquirer]
- As we’ve discussed on many occasions, supposed “Winnebago cruise control lawsuit” tale is a great big urban legend, but plenty of others alas are quite true [Bob Dorigo Jones]
- Will liability reform in Illinois ever manage to get around Speaker Michael Madigan? [Daniel DiSalvo, City Journal]
The Chamber of Commerce’s picks for the honor include a Georgia jury’s finding a woman only 8 percent responsible for her $161,000 injuries as she walked into a ladder while texting on her cellphone, a student’s complaint that the College Board omitted from SAT scoring a section where a typo had led some students to get extra time, and a would-be class action against MasterCard for not pulling down a cancer-research promotion at once when the $30 million fundraising target had been met. [New York Post]
- “Big Bucks and Local Lawyers: The Increasing Use of Contingency Fee Lawyers by Local Governments” [Michael Maddigan, U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform]
- Class actions: “The New Rule 23 Is Available for Public Comment,” comment period ends Feb. 15 [Andrew Trask]
- Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association urges Supreme Court to review Third Circuit case approving liability for FAA-approved part design [AOPA, Sikkelee v. Precision Airmotive Corp.]
- “An FCC ban on arbitration of privacy claims would be the anti-consumer-protection approach” [Geoffrey Manne & Kristian Stout, Truth on the Market]
- Montana case could bypass Daimler limits on state-court jurisdiction in cases under the Federal Employers’ Liability Act, Washington Legal Foundation urges certiorari [BNSF v. Tyrrell]
- Insurers brace for new tilt of adverse doctrine as American Law Institute mulls Restatement of the Law of Liability Insurance [Nicholas Malfitano, Legal Newsline/Forbes]
“In an epic takedown of a ruling issued Friday, a federal judge tossed a fraud lawsuit against Starbucks, dismissing claims that the coffee chain was defrauding customers by using a misleading amount of ice in their cold (i.e. iced) beverages.” [Julia Wick, LAist, earlier] More: ABA Journal (similar actions had been filed in L.A., Chicago, Starbucks moving to dismiss Chicago suitas well).
“Attorneys representing a New Jersey personal injury lawyer have brought a class-action suit against the company they say is responsible for an ‘unlawful and wrongful’ invasion of the man’s property.” To quote from the complaint “filed against the game’s developer, San Francisco-based Niantic Inc.:”
In the days following the U.S. release of Pokémon Go, Plaintiff became aware that strangers were gathering outside of his home, holding up their mobile phones as if they were taking pictures. At least five individuals knocked on Plaintiff’s door, informed Plaintiff that there was a Pokémon in his backyard, and asked for access to Plaintiff’s backyard in order to “catch” the Pokémon.
Cory Groshek of Green Bay, Wisconsin appears to scour online job offerings to see whether the employers have correctly followed the requirements of the Fair Credit Reporting Act on where and how to disclose that they intend to seek an applicant’s consumer credit reports. “Within a recent 18-month stretch, Groshek applied to 562 jobs, including one at Time Warner Cable. But it doesn’t appear he had any intention of keeping a job long-term. Instead, his aim seems to be to catch companies violating the law during the hiring process, so he can threaten a class-action lawsuit and demand a settlement….So far, Groshek has threatened to sue at least 46 companies that performed a background check on him” and has gotten settlements from about 20. Because Congress made liability for violations more or less automatic whether or not any actual consumers or workers were harmed, judges seldom throw out FCRA class actions, and “several companies across the country have paid out seven-figure settlements” in cases with other plaintiffs. [Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel]
Hello, AP? The relevant “wanting” here is done by lawyers, not consumers. (“When consumers want to create or join a class-action lawsuit…”) And that’s kind of emblematic of how you miss the point on the Consumer Finance Protection Board’s big announcement of a rule yesterday rescuing many class action lawyers from the arbitration clauses to which their putative clients would otherwise have given legal consent.
The industry reaction was swift, with Wall Street and its advocates warning of unintended consequences of the rule within hours of the CFPB proposing it on Thursday.
The change likely will result in higher litigation costs for banks, which they will offset either by raising the costs of consumer-loan products or reducing services, said Nessa Feddis, senior vice president for consumer protection and payments at the American Bankers Association, an industry group.
House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R., Texas) called the proposed rule “a big, wet kiss to trial attorneys.”
And: Omri Ben-Shahar, Forbes:
While the overall effect on consumers depends on the balance between meritorious and frivolous class actions, one prediction can be made with confidence. Firms will now take greater care in drafting even longer fine print agreements, where everything is fully “disclosed.” Since many class actions allege violations that can often be corrected through more comprehensive legal disclosures and warnings, firms will lawyer up and write longer and even less readable boilerplate. The “asterisk” will be the winner — the routine disclaimers that accompany advertisements, as in: “Footlong is an average; reasonable variations may apply.” In the end, the CFPB’s proposed regulation will not improve the value of financial services to consumers. It will instead lavish upon people even longer and more excruciating small print.
“A consumer class claims Starbucks’ cold drinks are almost half ice and the coffee chain misrepresents the fluid ounces of its popular, and profitable, iced coffee and tea beverages….Further, Starbucks charges more for cold drinks than for comparable hot drinks, despite giving cold-drink customers less of the product than hot-drink customers; in this way, Starbucks makes higher profits off its cold beverages, Pincus claims.” [Jack Bouboushian, Courthouse News Service] “The customer is seeking $5 million in damages. ‘Our customers understand and expect that ice is an essential component of any “iced” beverage,’ Starbucks said in a response. It added that the company will happily remake any beverage until the customer is satisfied.” [Lindsay Putnam, New York Post] Another class action a few weeks ago claimed that the coffee chain does not fill hot drinks up close enough to the top of the cup.