Archives: Class Actions

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Toward Class Actions for Health-Related Claims in France

The French government issued a bill on March 17 for the extension of class actions to health-related claims in France. Starting today, March 31, the text will be discussed at the French National Assembly, particularly to address the issue of compensation for personal injury within the framework of the proposed class action.… Continue Reading

Insurance Coverage Considerations for Alleged Mislabeling of Herbal and Dietary Supplements

In the wake of the New York Attorney General's recent enforcement actions against four major retailers who allegedly sold herbal supplements that did not contain labeled ingredients or contained ingredients not explicitly identified on the labels, companies throughout the supply chain should consider examining their insurance policies to see whether or not they are sufficiently covered in the event of an investigation, enforcement action and/or litigation. Types of insurance policies that may provide coverage for affected companies are commercial general liability (CGL), directors and officers liability (D&O), errors and omissions liability (E&O), and product recall.… Continue Reading

A Call for Explicit Requirement of Ascertainability in Class Actions

Over on the Drug & Device Law blog, Reed Smith partner Jim Beck (aka “Bexis”) makes a case for adding an explicit ascertainability requirement to Fed. R. Civ. P. 23 (Rule 23), presently under examination by the federal Advisory Committee on Civil Rules for possible amendment. Bexis points out that many courts already (properly) impose … Continue Reading

New Jersey Enacts Data Privacy Law for Health Insurance Carriers

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has signed a law requiring health insurance carriers in that state to encrypt individuals' personal information. This new law will be enforced in conjunction with the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act (NJCFA), and failure to obey the law will be classified as a violation of the NJCFA, which could result in financial penalties for the carriers. The new legislation may also affect business associates through the contractual terms of business associate agreements.… Continue Reading

Recent Developments in Tort Litigation

Law360.com recently published two articles on decisions involving issues with potential to have long-term effects on tort litigation. In the June 2, 2011 article, "Case Study: Bauman V. DaimlerChrysler Corp.," Mildred Segura and Nabil Bisharat discuss Bauman v. DaimlerChrysler Corp., a case that expands the use of "agency theory" to impose general jurisdiction over foreign corporations that do business in the U.S. solely through their U.S. subsidiaries. In "Reading Between The Lines: Pooshs V. Philip Morris," published in May, Eric Buhr and Kasey Curtis analyze the California Supreme Court's May 5th decision in Pooshs v. Philip Morris USA Inc., the latest California case addressing how statutes of limitations should apply in cases where a plaintiff alleges delayed discovery of only one of multiple claims or injuries.… Continue Reading

Tort Reform In Texas: Loser Pays Rule Signed Into Law

With a hat tip to the California Civil Justice Blog, earlier this week Texas enacted a "loser pays" system that proponents say will help rid the system of meritless cases. House Bill 274 takes effect September 1, 2011 and directs the Texas Supreme Court to enact rules providing for the early dismissal of "causes of action that have no basis in law or fact on motion and without evidence." For cases that fall within this "no basis in law or fact" category, the trial court may award the prevailing party costs and "reasonable and necessary attorney's fees . . . that the court determines are equitable and just" whenever it grants or denies a motion to dismiss, in whole or in part. Given the rulemaking yet to occur and the discretion vested in the trial courts in whether to award fees, the exact contours of this law will take some development, and it remains to be seen whether Texas civil litigants will be ordered to pay attorneys fees rarely or with some frequency. Still, an interesting experiment in civil justice reform that will bear watching.… Continue Reading

Tort Reform Heats Up with Hearing in the Senate Judiciary

The National Law Journal's article "Torts once again on the front burner in the House" discusses the March 24, 2011 U.S. House Judiciary subcommittee hearing on tort reform. The hearing, entitled, "Can We Sue Our Way to Prosperity?: Litigation's Effect on America's Global Competitiveness," once again opens the debate regarding the US tort system. Topics included a bill that would cap non-economic damages in cases of medical malpractice, and a hearing on the yet-to-be-introduced Lawsuit Abuse Reduction Act, a proposal to implement mandatory sanctions of attorneys who violate civil procedure's Rule 11 against filing frivolous claims.… Continue Reading

Civil Justice Reform Ideas For California

The California Civil Justice Blog has a link to John Fund's article in The Wall Street Journal "California Dreamin' - Of Jobs In Texas" discussing California lawmakers' recent legislative fact-finding trip to Texas, where they met with businesses that had relocated from California -- and throws a few legal-system reform ideas of its own into the mix, modeled on some changes Texas has made in recent years. Among them: Making the grant of class certification appealable - not just the denial of class certification, and a punitive damages cap.… Continue Reading

Changes to Rule 26 Make It Easier To Work With Experts

Recent changes to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (FRCP) Rule 26 make it easier to communicate with expert witnesses and to prepare them for deposition and trial testimony while still protecting attorney work product. While expert discovery has been a part of federal practice since 1993, the period dedicated to the discovery of attorney-expert communications and draft expert reports has become increasingly time consuming during pre-trial preparation. The amendments to Rule 26 address this development and attempt to create an atmosphere that encourages better communication between attorneys and their experts.… Continue Reading

Federal Court Holds That Voluntary Refund Programs Can Defeat Class Certification Under Rule 23(b)(3)’s Superiority Requirement

This post was written by James C. Martin and Colin E. Wrabley.  Class action defense litigators should be aware of a recent federal district court decision that endorsed and accepted a creative option for defeating class certification—the defendant’s implementation of a voluntary refund and replacement program providing a comparable remedy to what the putative class … Continue Reading

Health Care Facilities Targeted in Wage and Hour Lawsuits

Across the country, plaintiffs’ attorneys are targeting health care facilities over their alleged failure to comply with meal break rules. These suits claim that employers have automatically deducted 30 to 60 minutes of time for employees’ meal periods, even if employees never took the breaks. Because employees can recover for violations that took place as … Continue Reading

California Supreme Court Decides Landmark Consumer Fraud Case

This morning, May 18, 2009, the California Supreme Court issued its ruling in In re Tobacco II Cases, a case that will shape how parties litigate California Unfair Competition Law ("UCL") claims. At issue was the viability of UCL actions that seek to certify a class despite the fact that not all putative plaintiffs suffered injury as a result of a defendant's allegedly unfair practice. Since California's infamous UCL (also known as Bus. & Prof. Code, § 17200 et seq.) is often used to add broad "consumer fraud" claims to product liability lawsuits against the life sciences industry (as well as many other industries), the outcome of In re Tobacco II garnered substantial attention...… Continue Reading

California Supreme Court Hears Landmark Consumer Fraud Case

This morning, March 3, 2009, the California Supreme Court heard argument in In re Tobacco II Cases, a case that will shape how parties litigate California Unfair Competition Law ("UCL") claims. At issue is the viability of UCL actions that seek to certify a class despite the fact that not all putative plaintiffs suffered injury as a result of a defendant's allegedly unfair practice. Since California's infamous UCL (also known as Bus. & Prof. Code, § 17200 et seq.) is often used to add broad "consumer fraud" claims to product liability lawsuits against the life sciences industry (as well as many other industries), the outcome of In re Tobacco II is garnering considerable attention.… Continue Reading

The Future of Class Actions: Do We Really Need More?

Over at druganddevicelaw.blogspot.com, Jim Beck and Mark Hermann have a comprehensive summary of the current draft version of ALI's Principles of the Law of Aggregate Litigation, which ALI intends to influence the future of class action litigation in the United States. Despite improvements over the prior draft, Beck and Hermann caution that it "still suffers from the same two fundamental problems that have been there all along: (1) it would do away with predominance as a practical restriction on the types of claims that can be certified as class actions, and (2) it would allow routine certification of what it calls 'common issues' - pieces of litigation or of a cause of action - without regard to the litigation or cause of action as a whole." Another ALI member who is familiar with the project explains that some in the ALI Members' Consultative Group seemingly fail to appreciate the real-world hardships that classes create for the targeted companies, and labor under the misapprehension that common adjudication should be preferred above all else under the euphemism of judicial efficiency. With more attention focused on the problems with these draft Principles, it is hoped that the project may yet change course.… Continue Reading
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