Class Action Procedure

In Scott v. Dart, 99 F.4th 1076 (7th Cir. 2024), the Seventh Circuit held that incentive awards are sufficient to confer standing on named plaintiffs in appeals of class certification orders.  In doing so, it declined to follow a recent Eleventh Circuit decision holding that incentive awards are unlawful.Continue Reading Seventh Circuit Declines to Deepen Circuit Split on Incentive Awards

Courts have recently been grappling with an influx of class actions alleging that company websites are in violation of wiretapping and other privacy laws when using third-party technology to provide services on their websites.  Three different federal courts recently dismissed cases on similar grounds, demonstrating the challenges plaintiffs face with maintaining them and strategies defendants should keep in mind to defeat them. 

Two of the cases accuse healthcare providers of improperly sharing personal health information with third-party technology companies through the use of pixel technologies on the healthcare provider’s website.  In the first case, Doe v. Davita, Inc., plaintiffs accused Davita—a kidney dialysis provider—of violating the California Invasion of Privacy Act (“CIPA”) and other laws by purportedly collecting “patients’ personal and sensitive medical information on the Online Platforms and … improperly shar[ing] [this information] with the Tracking Technologies without patients’ consent.”  2024 WL 1772854, at *2 (S.D. Cal. April 24, 2024).  The court disagreed and dismissed the claims, holding that plaintiffs did “not explain what specific information they provided to Defendant” and calling their claims “conclusory.”  Id.  The complaint, said the court, was “devoid of any facts supporting” plaintiffs’ contentions that Davita disclosed “personal, confidential, and sensitive medical information; medical treatment; and payment information” with the third party.  Id. Continue Reading Lack of Plaintiff-Specific Allegations Dooms California, Pennsylvania Privacy-Based Class Actions

A recent New Jersey federal court decision dealt a major blow to class action litigation that seek economic damages associated with the sale of products withdrawn from the market. 

In Gibriano v. Eisai, Inc., et al., 2024 WL 1831546 (D.N.J. Mar. 31, 2024), the plaintiff sought to represent a nationwide class of consumers who purchased a weight-loss medication that was recently voluntarily withdrawn from the market based on FDA’s concerns about potential cancer risk.  The plaintiff did not claim that she had suffered personal injuries.  Rather, she sought money damages, alleging that she over-paid because the medication “did not meaningfully impact her weight” and because the price she paid was “based on the understanding that it was safe.”  She further alleged that, because of the medication’s potential risks, “no reasonable physician would have prescribed [it] and no reasonable consumer would choose to purchase [it].”  In support of her allegations, the plaintiff attached to her complaint a consumer survey suggesting that knowledge of cancer risk would reduce the amount consumers would pay for a medication. Continue Reading Class-action claims seeking economic damages for purchase of withdrawn medicine defeated on Article III standing grounds.

In a recent decision, the Ninth Circuit concluded that a damages model that had been developed, but not actually applied to the underlying data, sufficiently showed that damages were susceptible to common proof for purposes of class certification. 

The case, Lytle v. Nutramax Lab’ys, Inc., — F.4th— 2024 WL 1710663 (9th Cir. Apr. 22, 2024) concerns allegations that the defendants misled purchasers of their dog supplement—marketed as improving dogs’ joints and mobility—when allegedly no such benefits exist.  To support class certification, the plaintiffs put forward an expert who had created a conjoint survey that they claimed could calculate damages on a class-wide basis.  However, the plaintiffs conceded that the expert had not yet applied his analysis, relying instead on the expert’s prediction that his analysis could successfully measure the damages suffered by the class.   Continue Reading Ninth Circuit Holds that Unexecuted Damages Model is Sufficient for Class Certification

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

Earlier this month, the Judicial Conference’s Advisory Committee on Civil Rules unanimously approved a proposed new rule to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure to address case management of multidistrict litigation (“MDL”).  The rule is the first addition to the Federal Rules focused on MDLs, and it reflects an attempt to suggest a nationwide approach to MDL case management that tracks approaches to case management that MDL judges have often followed in practice while leaving MDL judges discretion to depart from the suggested procedures depending on the needs of a particular case.Continue Reading New Federal Rule of Civil Procedure for MDLs Approved by Advisory Committee

On April 15, the U.S. Supreme Court declined a request by Visa and Mastercard to review a D.C. Circuit decision that appeared to add to a circuit split about how lower courts are to determine whether common issues predominate under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(b)(3). 

The case, Visa Inc. v. Nat’l ATM Council, Inc., Case No. 23-814, was part of a long-running dispute between the card companies and ATM operators about ATM fees.  In July, the D.C. Circuit upheld the certification of three different Plaintiff classes over the card companies’ argument that the district court had failed to perform a “rigorous analysis” about whether class-wide issues predominated.  Nat’l ATM Council, Inc. v. Visa Inc., 2023 WL 4743013 (D.C. Cir. 2023).  Although it noted that the district court’s analysis was “notably terse,” the D.C. Circuit found no error in the lower court’s holding that Plaintiffs need only demonstrate a “colorable” method of proving class-wide injury and that the Plaintiffs’ evidence satisfied that test.  Rejecting the card companies’ argument that Plaintiffs’ class-wide injury methodology failed to weed out uninjured class members, the court observed that “Defendants’ contention that their model showing unharmed members is more accurate and credible than Plaintiffs’ different models showing that all members were harmed is … precisely the kind of material factual dispute” that should be resolved at the merits, not class certification, stage.  Id. at *11.    Continue Reading Supreme Court Declines to Wade into Class Certification “Predominance” Issue

The Northern District of Illinois recently denied certification to several proposed classes of purchasers of a seizure drug called Acthar in City of Rockford v. Mallinckrodt ARD, Inc., No. 3:17-cv-50107, 2024 WL 1363544 (Mar. 29, 2024).  Class plaintiffs had alleged that defendant Express Scripts, a drug distributor, conspired with Mallinckrodt, a drug manufacturer, to raise the price of Acthar through an exclusive distribution arrangement.  In denying certification to the damages classes, the court determined that plaintiffs had not met Rule 23(b)(3)’s predominance standard because they lacked a reliable economic model showing that damages were “capable of measurement on a classwide basis,” as required by Comcast Corp. v. Behrend, 569 U.S. 27, 34 (2013).Continue Reading Court Denies Class Certification in Antitrust Case Based on Expert’s Reliance on Unsupported Assumptions in Damages Model

Defendants in privacy class action lawsuits increasingly face assertions by plaintiffs and putative class members that they should be awarded statutory penalties that vastly exceed any purported actual damages. A recent decision under the False Claims Act reinforces the constitutional limitations plaintiffs may face in pursuing these outsized awards.

The United States District Court for