A Closer Look

Companies in the food, beverage, pharmaceutical, and other industries continue to face litigation regarding their products’ labeling, including as to whether certain representations on labels are deceptive or misleading.  In the Second Circuit and elsewhere, these lawsuits tend to turn on what an objective “reasonable consumer” would understand the representation at issue to mean, and whether that “reasonable consumer” would likely be misled under the circumstances.  In Bustamante v. KIND, LLC, 2024 WL 1917155 (2d Cir, May 2, 2024), the Second Circuit confirmed how important expert testimony can be to that question, and how efforts to exclude expert testimony can ultimately be the difference between winning and losing. Continue Reading A Closer Look: The Importance of Expert Testimony for “Reasonable Consumer” Claims

Plaintiffs appear to be increasingly focused on keeping certain types of class actions, including cases brought under the California Invasion of Privacy Act (CIPA), in California state court, likely seeking to take advantage of less rigorous pleading and class certification requirements.  Some plaintiffs are even bringing individual claims and affirmatively alleging that less than $75,000 is at stake to avoid removal under CAFA or diversity jurisdiction, while purporting to reserve the right to add class allegations at a later stage.  See, e.g., Casillas v. Hanesbrands Inc., 2024 WL 1286188 (C.D. Cal. Mar. 22, 2024) (remanding individual CIPA claim to state court). 

A recent decision in the Central District of California, Doe v. PHE, Inc., 2024 WL 1639149 (C.D. Cal. Apr. 15, 2024), should help defendants seeking to remove putative class actions to federal court under CAFA.Continue Reading A Closer Look: Recent C.D. Cal. Decision Strengthens Defendants’ Arguments for CAFA Removal

A Northern District of California court excluded two groups from certified classes alleging privacy violations against Google, finding that individuals who did not set their own privacy settings did not satisfy the predominance requirement of Rule 23(b)(3).

In Rodriguez, et al., v. Google LLC, 2024 WL 1486139 (N.D. Cal. Apr. 5, 2024), plaintiffs had filed a putative class action against Google alleging that their online activities were transmitted to Google even after they turned off certain internet tracking settings, constituting alleged intrusion upon seclusion, invasion of privacy, and violation of the Comprehensive Computer Data Access and Fraud Act (CDAFA). The court had already certified two classes, but during the class notice process a dispute arose over whether two groups of people who had not set their own tracking settings were part of the class definitions: 1) users of accounts created by businesses or organizations for their employees or members; and 2) users of accounts created for children under thirteen by their parents.Continue Reading In Internet Privacy Case, Predominance Rejected for Persons Who Did Not Choose Their Own Privacy Settings

Environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) initiatives have become increasingly important in today’s business setting.  Increased awareness and heightened scrutiny of ESG-related issues, combined with third-party litigation funding, has led to a surge in ESG-related litigation and enforcement actions as consumers, regulators, and investors seek to hold companies accountable for claims about their environmental and social impact.  

This post explores the emerging trends shaping the landscape of ESG litigation, which are increasingly centralized in courts in the District of Columbia.  Such claims are often brought by nonprofit organizations seeking to take advantage of local consumer protection laws which they claim allow them standing to sue.Continue Reading A Closer Look: Developing Trends in ESG Litigation

A Pennsylvania federal district court overseeing a multi-district litigation recently dismissed various privacy and wiretapping claims against two online retailers, finding that allegations of interception and disclosure of mere “browsing activity” on those retailers’ websites is not “sufficiently personal or private” to confer Article III standing. 

In In re: BPS Direct, LLC, and Cabela’s, LLC, Wiretapping Litigation, 2:23-cv-04008-MAK (E.D. Pa. Dec. 5, 2023), the district court consolidated six proposed class actions involving eight plaintiffs, with each alleging that BPS Direct, LLC and Cabela’s, LLC, who operate retail stores known as Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s, unlawfully intercepted and disclosed their private information through the use of session replay software on their websites.  The district court dismissed most of the plaintiffs’ claims, holding that they failed to adequately allege a concrete harm sufficient to support Article III standing.Continue Reading Pennsylvania Multi-District Wiretapping Litigation Finds Website Users Lack Article III Standing

On December 5, 2023, the Ninth Circuit vacated a decision by a district court approving a $5.2 million class action settlement between plaintiff Lisa Kim and Tinder, Inc., a mobile dating app.  The case alleged that Tinder’s pricing scheme—which charges users over the age of 29 more for its premium packages than users under the age of 29—is discriminatory and violates California’s Unruh Civil Rights Act, Cal. Civ. Code §§ 51 et seq, and California’s unfair competition law, Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code §§ 17200 et seq.  This was the second time the Ninth Circuit reversed the district court’s approval of a class settlement in this case. Continue Reading Ninth Circuit Rejects Class Action Settlement in Tinder Case for the Second Time

The Ninth Circuit recently upheld a California district court’s dismissal of a proposed class action against Shopify for lack of personal jurisdiction, cautioning that subjecting web-based platforms to jurisdiction in every forum in which they are accessible would lead to the “eventual demise of all restrictions” on personal jurisdiction.

In Briskin v. Shopify, Inc., 2022 WL 1427324 (N.D. Cal. May 5, 2022), the plaintiff alleged that Shopify, a Canadian-based company that provides online merchants throughout the United States with an e-commerce payment platform, violated California privacy and consumer protection laws by allegedly collecting his sensitive personal information while using a California-based retailer’s website.  The district court in the Northern District of California dismissed the action, finding that it lacked both general and specific personal jurisdiction over Shopify. 

A panel of the Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court’s dismissal of the complaint for lack of personal jurisdiction, holding that Shopify could not be subjected to jurisdiction in California where it did not expressly aim the alleged conduct implicated by the lawsuit toward California.  Briskin v. Shopify, Inc., 2023 WL 8225346 (9th Cir. Nov. 28, 2023).  Briskin confirms the Ninth Circuit’s view that for interactive websites and other web-based services and platforms that operate nationwide, “something more” is needed to satisfy the express aiming requirement for personal jurisdiction.Continue Reading Ninth Circuit Finds No Personal Jurisdiction in California Over Website

            December 1 marks an important and long-awaited change to Federal Rule of Evidence 702.  The Rule, pertaining to the testimony of expert witnesses, has not received a substantive update since 2000, when it was amended in the wake of the Daubert decision.  Now, more than 20 years later—and after years of study—the Rule has been amended to make two issues clear:  (1) that the proponent of an expert’s testimony must establish the admissibility of that testimony by a preponderance of the evidence; and (2) that an expert’s opinion must reflect a reliable application of his or her methodology to the case.  These changes reinforce the key gatekeeping role that courts play in ensuring that only helpful, reliable expert testimony is heard by the factfinder. Continue Reading A Closer Look:  Changes To F.R.E. 702 Will Help Ensure Courts Follow The Expert ‘Gatekeeping’ Function

On November 3, the Second Circuit reversed a lower court decision denying a motion to compel arbitration in a putative class action against Klarna.  See Edmundson v. Klarna, Inc., 85 F.4th 695 (2d Cir. 2023).  The decision offers guidance (and support) for companies looking to enforce similar “click-wrap” agreements with mandatory arbitration provisions.Continue Reading A Closer Look: Second Circuit Steps In to Reverse Decision Refusing To Enforce “Click-Wrap” Mandatory Arbitration Agreement

The Sixth Circuit vacated an order certifying five statewide classes alleging a common brake defect in Ford Motor Company’s F-150 pickup trucks, remanding the case to the district court “for more searching consideration” of whether commonality under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(a)(2) was satisfied.

In Weidman v. Ford Motor Co., 2022 WL 1071289 (E.D. Mich. Apr. 8, 2022), plaintiffs had filed a putative class action against Ford over an alleged defective brake cylinder in their F-150 pickup trucks.  The district court certified five statewide classes on three issues under Rule 23(c)(4): (1) whether the trucks’ brake systems were defective; (2) whether Ford possessed pre-sale knowledge of the defect; and (3) whether concealed information about the defect would be material to a reasonable buyer.

On a Rule 23(f) petition for interlocutory review, the Sixth Circuit vacated the class certification order, finding that the district court’s “cursory treatment of commonality, one of the four necessary class action ingredients, failed to meet Rule 23’s stringent requirements.”  In Re Ford Motor Co., 2023 WL 7877971, at *1 (6th Cir. Nov. 16, 2023).Continue Reading Sixth Circuit Pumps the Brakes on Class Certification Alleging Common Defects in Ford F-150 Pickup Trucks