Ninth Circuit

This blog recently covered a decision from the Northern District of California denying a defendant’s motion for summary judgment on a plaintiff’s “greenwashing” claims, which asserted that defendant’s “non-toxic” and “Earth-friendly” labels were false and misleading.  See Bush v. Rust-Oleum Corp., 2024 WL 308263 (N.D. Cal. Jan. 26, 2024).  Now, the same court has granted class certification on those claims, demonstrating that not only can these claims be difficult to defeat before trial, but it can also be difficult to prevent certification on those claims as well.Continue Reading “Greenwashing” Claims Certified For Class Treatment

The Ninth Circuit recently dismissed a putative class action by an online business over allegations that Google placed search results over the business’s website. While the district court had denied a motion to dismiss, the Ninth Circuit reversed, holding that copies of websites are not chattel that could support a trespass to chattel claim and that the Copyright Act preempted the remaining claims of unjust enrichment, implied in law contract, and unfair competition.Continue Reading Ninth Circuit Dismisses Website Framing Claim as Preempted by Copyright

As companies have increased efforts to represent their products as environmentally friendly, “greenwashing” lawsuits—which target companies (often under consumer protection statutes) based on allegations of false or misleading statements regarding the environmental impact of their products or practices—have also increased. A recent order from the district court in the Northern District of California illustrates the difficulty in attempting to defeat these claims before trial if a strong evidentiary record has not been developed.Continue Reading N.D. Cal. Judge Allows “Greenwashing” Claims to Proceed to Trial

The Class Action Fairness Act permits removal of lawsuits brought under state-law rules similar to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23.  A court in the Northern District of California recently denied a motion to remand even though the complaint did not reference California Code of Civil Procedure section 382, California’s Rule 23 analogue.  See Pac. Coast Fed’n of Fishermen’s Associations, Inc. v. Chevron Corp., No. 18-CV-07477-VC, 2023 WL 7299195 (N.D. Cal. Nov. 1, 2023).  The ruling underscores that in the Ninth Circuit, “the CAFA removal inquiry focuses on the complaint’s substance, not formal labels and allegations.”  Id. at *2.Continue Reading Court Finds CAFA Removal Proper, Even Though Complaint Did Not Explicitly Invoke Rule 23 Equivalent

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 issued a key Prop 65 decision that could have broader implications for businesses subjected to its regulatory regime. 

Enacted via a ballot initiative, Prop 65 requires a company to warn consumers when one of its products contains a chemical known to the state of California to be carcinogenic or harmful to reproductive health.  In 2017, the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) placed glyphosate on its list of chemicals requiring a warning after the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) concluded that the herbicide was “probably carcinogenic.”  Shortly after, a group of agricultural and business groups sued to enjoin California from requiring glyphosate warnings, arguing that the requirement violated the First Amendment.  The Ninth Circuit agreed.  See Nat’l Ass’n of Wheat Growers v. Bonta,– F.4th–, 2023 WL 7314307, at *2 (9th Cir. Nov. 7, 2023).Continue Reading Citing First Amendment Issues, Ninth Circuit Kills Prop 65 Glyphosate Warning Requirement

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

The Ninth Circuit on Friday held that vehicle infotainment systems that illegally record private communications might generate an injury-in-fact sufficient to satisfy Article III standing—but (without more) such recordings fail to injure a plaintiff’s “person,” “business,” or “reputation” as is required to gain statutory standing under the Washington Privacy Act (“WPA”).Continue Reading Are You Not Infotained?  The Ninth Circuit Tightens Statutory Standing Rules for WPA Claims

A judge in the Northern District of California recently held that a purchaser of eye makeup allegedly containing eye irritants lacked standing to pursue her claims—given that the product was not banned by the FDA and did not actually harm her eyes.Continue Reading Presence of Eye Irritants in Eye Makeup Is Not Enough for Article III Injury, N.D. Cal. Judge Rules

A federal district court in the Northern District of California granted in part a motion to dismiss putative class action claims filed against Western Digital, a hard drive manufacturer whose older devices experienced a cyber-attack, where the plaintiffs alleged that their stored data was deleted but not that it was stolen.  While plaintiffs will be permitted to maintain claims related to the data loss, they lack standing to assert claims based on future data misuse.Continue Reading Federal Court Partially Dismisses Hacked Hard Drive Claims Where Plaintiffs Could Only Show Data Deletion, Not Theft