In a one-line order issued last week, the Supreme Court dismissed In Re Grand Jury, No. 21-1397, one of the most significant cases about the attorney-client privilege in decades.  The dismissal came just two weeks after oral argument.  The Court explained that the writ of certiorari had been “improvidently granted,” meaning the Court should

A U.S. District Court Judge in California dismissed a putative class action asserting claims under section 637.7 of the California Invasion of Privacy Act (CIPA) in a case that could have useful implications for automotive and other device manufacturers whose products have the ability to track location.  Plaintiff claimed that a third-party company, Otonomo Inc., partnered with automobile manufacturers to use the telematics control units (TCUs) installed in their vehicles to track a driver’s location via GPS without the driver’s knowledge.  The Court rejected the claim, holding that because the TCU devices were built-in, rather than devices added to a vehicle, they were not “attached” to the car and thus did not fall within the statute’s definition of “electronic tracking device.”

Continue Reading Class Action Suit Brought Under CIPA Section 637.7 for Alleged Location-Based Tracking of Vehicles Is Dismissed

The Ninth Circuit recently held that the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, which gives the Federal Trade Commission  authority to regulate the online collection of personal information from children under the age of 13, does not preempt consistent state law, potentially increasing the risk of class action litigation based on alleged COPPA violations.  See Jones

Under the Ninth Circuit’s 2020 decision in Sonner v. Premier Nutrition Corp., 971 F.3d 834 (9th Cir. 2020), plaintiffs cannot recover equitable relief in federal court if they have an adequate legal remedy.  More than two years later, district courts remain divided on how to apply Sonner at the pleading stage, with some postponing the analysis to later stages and others routinely dismissing equitable claims.  In courts that take the stricter view, Sonner can be a useful tool for narrowing the claims class action defendants must litigate in a federal case, particularly in California, where common consumer protection claims are largely limited to equitable remedies.  That said, a pair of recent Ninth Circuit decisions highlights that defendants should carefully consider the risk that a plaintiff will refile dismissed equitable claims in state court.

Continue Reading A Closer Look: Equitable Jurisdiction in the Ninth Circuit After Sonner

The Supreme Court recently granted certiorari in a case to resolve a circuit split that has serious implications for companies who are unsuccessful in their efforts to enforce arbitration provisions in federal district courts. 

In Coinbase, Inc. v. Bielski, No. 22-105, the defendant moved to compel arbitration in two putative class actions.  The motions to compel were denied, and the defendant sought stays while it appealed the denials—which the Federal Arbitration Act gives defendants an automatic right to do.  See 9 U.S.C. § 16.  Both motions to stay were denied, and the Ninth Circuit affirmed both decisions.

Continue Reading SCOTUS Set to Resolve Circuit Split over Stays Pending Arbitration Appeal

If a tree falls in the forest but no one is around to hear it, did it make a sound?  Philosophers disagree.  If a product contains a contaminant but no one gets sick, did it cause an injury?  Judges disagree.

In the 2000s, enterprising plaintiffs’ attorneys attempted to push the boundaries of existing tort law by arguing that plaintiffs are entitled to damages for defects even when they cause no physical injury.  These so-called “no-injury” theories of liability were largely rejected by courts.  E.g., Rivera v. Wyeth-Ayerst Lab’ys, 283 F.3d 315, 320–21 (5th Cir. 2002) (dismissing “no-injury products liability law suit”); Johnson v. Bankers Life & Cas. Co., 2014 WL 4494284, at *7 (W.D. Wis. Sept. 12, 2014) (recognizing that in the “consumer product context, courts routinely find lack of standing where—while a product may have been defective in the hands of others—the individual plaintiffs did not suffer the defect and, therefore, suffered no injury”).

While these cases closed the door on “no-injury” product liability claims, they left open the possibility of other “no-injury” claims, such as claims that a manufacturing defect breached a warranty or constituted fraud.  E.g., Cole v. Gen. Motors Corp., 484 F.3d 717, 723 (5th Cir. 2007) (“Notably in this case, plaintiffs may bring claims under a contract theory based on the express and implied warranties they allege.”).

Whether and when “no-injury” claims are viable is a hotly debated question.  As more fully discussed below, courts disagree on whether a plaintiff who has purchased a contaminated or defective product—but who has successfully used the product for its intended purpose while suffering no physical injury—can maintain a claim.

Continue Reading A Closer Look: Does Purchasing a Defective or Contaminated Product Always Cause an Article III Injury?

We previously wrote about Chamber of Commerce v. Bonta, 13 F.4th 766 (9th Cir. 2021), in which a split panel of the Ninth Circuit held that the Federal Arbitration Act does not preempt a California Labor Code provision prohibiting employers from requiring applicants or employees “to waive any right, forum, or procedure” for

Last September, we reported on a 2-1 Ninth Circuit decision holding that even if an arbitration clause appears to be unenforceable under the prospective waiver doctrine, a delegation provision requiring the arbitrator to decide that issue in the first instance is still enforceable.  Brice v. Haynes Invs., LLC, 13 F.4th 823 (9th Cir. 2021).  This decision reversed the district court’s order denying defendants’ motion to compel arbitration.  Because the district court action was not stayed pending the appeal, it proceeded through class certification and pretrial motions.  The Ninth Circuit now has vacated the panel decision and decided to rehear the case en banc.

Continue Reading Update: Ninth Circuit Might Backtrack on When an Arbitrability-Related Question May be Delegated to an Arbitrator

Courts in the Northern District of California continue to turn away lawsuits alleging that food and beverage companies must adjust protein content claims to account for protein digestibility.  In Brown v. Nature’s Path Foods, Inc., 2022 WL 717816 (N.D. Cal. Mar. 10, 2022), Judge Gilliam observed that recent FDA guidance reaffirms that companies may