Posts Tagged ‘settlement’

Litigation reform moving fast through House of Representatives

With both Congress and White House now in Republican hands, the U.S. House of Representatives is moving with dispatch to consider a series of litigation reform measures, some stalled for years by Democratic opposition and others of relatively recent vintage. Bruce Kaufman at BNA Bloomberg has a three-part series (first, second, third) followed by an update today on the looming battle over the six main bills:

  • The Lawsuit Abuse Reduction Act (H.R. 720) “requires judges to impose mandatory sanctions on attorneys who file ‘meritless’ civil cases in federal courts.”
  • The Fairness in Class Action Litigation Act (H.R. 985) which “affects nearly all facets of class action practice” and in particular “class certification requirements, capping or delaying distribution of fees to class counsel, requiring the disclosure of litigation financing, and tying the reporting of settlement data to plaintiffs’ lawyers’ fees.” [More: various academic opponents weigh in here, Andrew Trask defends provisions of the bill here and here, and see earlier]
  • The Innocent Party Protection Act (H.R. 725) “targets what is known as fraudulent joinder—the improper addition of [local] defendants to suits in a bid to keep cases in more plaintiff-friendly state courts.”
  • The Furthering Asbestos Claims Transparency Act (H.R. 906) “mandates increased reporting of payments to plaintiffs by trusts that pay out asbestos exposure claims against bankrupt companies,” in hopes of preventing undisclosed duplicative collection of damages over the same injury.
  • The Stop Settlement Slush Funds Act (H.R. 732) which “seeks to bar the Department of Justice from entering into settlements that steer funds to favored third-party groups.”
  • The Sunshine for Regulatory Decrees and Settlements Act (H.R. 469) Goes after what have been called “sue-and-settle” processes at EPA in which the agency reaches concessionary terms with ostensibly adverse litigants who seek to expand its authority.

Trial lawyers and allies in the Litigation Lobby aren’t standing idly by: “opponents hope to gum up the works.” Even if many bills clear House passage, getting to 60 votes in the Senate in the face of filibuster threats could prove difficult, despite the departure of perennial trial lawyer ally Harry Reid (D-Nev.), and the views of President Trump are not entirely clear. More: Washington Examiner editorial on class action measures.

EEOC challenges “garden-variety” severance terms

To end an employment lawsuit, or more often simply as part of a non-litigious parting, employers often offer a severance package part of which consists of various terms releasing all claims and covenanting not to sue, requiring confidentiality and cooperation in the case of future litigation, and so forth. Now, in a lawsuit against CVS, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is taking the position that many such clauses constitute “retaliation” for protected activity and are legally invalid. Jon Hyman of Ohio Employer’s Law Blog notes that the clauses under challenge are generic ones widely used in severance packages and explains why in his view the “case has the potential to be most significant piece of litigation the EEOC has filed in recent memory.” Daniel Schwartz at Connecticut Employment Law Blog also calls the suit “a big deal: “My gut tells me that the courts are not likely to view the government’s arguments with favor. … But for employers, that is of little solace.” More: Ameet Sachdev/Chicago Tribune (“the EEOC brought the suit even though CVS expressly protected employees’ rights under discrimination laws”), Joshua Feinstein, JD Supra (“the potential for havoc is great”), Hope Eastman/Paley Rothman (“a major shock to employers”)

March 7 roundup

  • Thank you, Sens. Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, and Mike Lee, for getting Obama’s claim of warrantless domestic killing authority onto the media front burner — finally — through Sen. Paul’s filibuster last night. (More: Nick Gillespie, Conor Friedersdorf and background, Andrew Sullivan, Josh Blackman; Mediaite (Eric Holder sends letter, Rand Paul declares victory).
  • Pending SCOTUS case of “Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl” is not the first Indian Child Welfare Act fiasco [Ann Althouse] More on ICWA [NYT Room for Debate]
  • Has ABA now enlisted in the crusade against Stand Your Ground self-defense laws? [ABA Journal] Reminder #371 that the Martin-Zimmerman case is not likely to hinge on Florida’s SYG law [Jacob Sullum; Jeralyn Merritt with more detail on latest developments]
  • “Transparency in Government: Finding Out How Much the Government’s Mistakes Are Costing Us” [Hans von Spakovsky, Heritage]
  • “New York, to Stem Civil-Rights Suits, Is Now Reluctant to Settle” [NY Times]
  • CPSC adopts sweeping CPSIA testing and certification rule [Nancy Nord] Should the CPSC be structured as a multi-member commission? [Commissioner Nord at Cato’s Regulation magazine, PDF, and “Conversations with Consumers“]
  • Illinois: “Small Town to Lose Its Only Sledding Hill” [Free-Range Kids]
  • “Word of the day: Mendicant” [New York Times education blog; I’m quoted in]

I had no authority to do that

A California attorney reached a $350,000 settlement just before a jury returned with its verdict on his client’s suit. Turned out the jury had been prepared to award $9 million. The plaintiffs attorney, C. Michael Alder, who is president of the Consumer Attorneys of Los Angeles, then told a judge that his developmentally disabled and brain-damaged client (who had been severely injured after jumping out of an ambulance) had not properly authorized him to settle the case. Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Michael Johnson granted a new trial. [The Recorder, ABA Journal, Judicial Hellholes and followup]

Four Loko agrees to warn of alcohol buzz

Settling a lawsuit filed by the Federal Trade Commission, the maker of the drink agrees to warn on its label that it really has quite a lot of alcohol in it and can get you tipsy without having to go back often for refills. As Elie Mystal notes, the “warning” might fit rather nicely into the beverage’s marketing strategy. Scott Greenfield has thought of a parallel case.

September 16 roundup

  • House Judiciary holds hearing on asbestos-claim fraud and abuse, with Prof. Brickman headlining [Main Justice, Legal NewsLine, WSJ law blog, PoL, Brickman testimony]
  • Endangered species habitat in Nevada: “Elko County wants end to 15-year-old trout case” [AP]
  • “Why is the Eastern District of Texas home to so many patent trolls?” [Ted Frank/PoL, more] Tech giants say multi-defendant patent suits place them at disadvantage [WSJ Law Blog] Plus: “Patent company has big case, no office” [John O’Brien, Legal NewsLine]
  • Lawsuit settlement and the lizard brain [Popehat]
  • “U.S. Commission on Civil Rights Looks Into Eminent Domain Abuses” [Kanner, Somin] U.K.: “Squatters could be good for us all, says judge in empty homes ruling” [Telegraph]
  • Madison mob silences Roger Clegg at news conference where he releases new study of UW race bias [ABA Journal, Althouse]
  • Life in Australia: “Another motorized-beer-cooler DUI” [Lowering the Bar]

August 2 roundup

  • “Why Do Employers Use FICO Scores?” Maybe one reason is that government places off limits so many of the other ways they might evaluate job applicants [McArdle, Coyote]
  • Michael Fumento on $671 million verdict against nursing home in California [Forbes]
  • Ted Frank is looking for a pro bono economics expert [CCAF]
  • Lester Brickman, “Anatomy of an Aggregate Settlement: The Triumph of Temptation Over Ethics” [Phillips Petroleum explosion; SSRN via Legal Ethics Forum]
  • Ice cream trucks return to Niskayuna, N.Y. 34 years after a panic-occasioned ban [Free-Range Kids, Mangu-Ward]
  • Galloping trend toward “whistleblower” enactments: this time lawmakers are rushing one on oil workers [Smith/ShopFloor, more, earlier]
  • Class action lawsuit filed against Trident Xtra Care gum, marketed as good for one’s teeth [Hoffman/ConcurOp; compare Russell Jackson on Wrigley’s settlement of a class action over Eclipse chewing gum]
  • EEOC officials urge employers to ban foul language and swearing in workplace [seven years ago at Overlawyered]