Defendants often consider whether weak class allegations can be stricken at the pleading stage, leaving just a low-exposure individual claim to defend.  That tactic may have a great chance of success—especially when a complaint asserts state-law claims on behalf of a nationwide class or challenges multiple misrepresentations—in light of a recent Fifth Circuit decision approving that strategy.

In Elson v. Black, __ F.4th __, 2023 WL 111317 (5th Cir. Jan. 5, 2023), plaintiffs brought a putative class action alleging that the defendants made various misrepresentations about a massager.  Plaintiffs sought a nationwide class and, in the alternative, seven subclasses representing the seven states where they reside.  The district court granted the defendants’ motion to strike the class allegation, a decision the Fifth Circuit upheld on several grounds.

Continue Reading Fifth Circuit Upholds Early Dismissal of Class Allegations at Pleading Stage

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

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 Second Circuit recently vacated a district court ruling certifying a class of thousands of employee benefit plans whose fiduciaries contracted with the Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association of America (TIAA) to provide collateralized loans to plan participants, in a case that clarifies how courts must analyze challenges to Rule 23’s “predominance” requirement for class

The First Circuit recently revived consumer deception claims challenging the safety and testing of a car booster seat manufactured by Evenflo, in a case that potentially makes it easier for class-action plaintiffs to satisfy Article III’s standing requirements in the First Circuit when they only allege an economic injury. 

Continue Reading First Circuit Holds Alleged Overpayment Enough for Article III Standing

An Alabama district court recently granted dismissal of a class action asserting Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (“BIPA”) claims brought by Illinois residents against ProctorU, Inc. in Thakkar v. ProctorU Inc., No. 2:21-cv-01565 (N.D. Ala.).  The district court concluded that a choice-of-law provision contained in the terms of service and which required the application of Alabama law precluded the application of BIPA to the conduct alleged.

Continue Reading Alabama Federal Court Finds Choice-of-Law Provision Bars BIPA Privacy Lawsuit Against Online Examination Company

As plaintiffs continue to rely on the District of Columbia Consumer Protection Procedures Act (“CPPA”) to bring greenwashing suits, a recent D.C. Superior Court decision imposes limits on their ability to allege that a company’s general commitments to “sustainability” can constitute actionable misrepresentations.

Continue Reading Aspirational Statements of “Sustainability” Not Actionable Under D.C. Consumer Protection Statute

In a recent decision, a federal judge granted summary judgment for the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) finding that the LBC cryptocurrency token qualifies as a security.  While the ruling is confined to this specific token, it represents a victory for the SEC’s assertions that many cryptocurrencies, including so called “utility tokens,” represent securities that need to be registered with the agency.  The Court also held that the makers of the LBC token, LBRY, Inc., had fair notice that the token was subject to the securities laws.  Considering the ongoing class actions and enforcement proceedings litigating this issue across several cases, companies operating in the cryptocurrency space, including cryptocurrency exchanges, should follow this development to assess any possible impact on their businesses.

Continue Reading S.E.C. Wins Summary Judgment Determination That Cryptocurrency Token Qualifies as a Security

On October 17, the District of Massachusetts added to the growing line of federal courts that have held a mere data breach, without additional harm, is insufficient to grant customers Article III standing.  See Webb v. Injured Workers Pharmacy, LLC, 2022 WL 10483751, at *1 (D. Mass. Oct. 17, 2022).  In February 2022, a home delivery pharmacy notified over 75,000 affected customers that hackers broke through its defenses and accessed patients’ personal data.  Two of these customers filed a putative class action against the pharmacy, alleging various tort and contract theories.  The court dismissed their claims for lack of standing, holding that plaintiffs had failed to allege any actionable harm stemming from the data breach despite their allegations that the breach caused them significant emotional harm.

Continue Reading Data Breach, Without Allegations of Misuse, Isn’t Enough for Article III Standing

Following a week-long trial, a jury in Illinois awarded a plaintiff class of truck drivers a $228 million verdict against BNSF Railways for violations of the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (“BIPA”).  The large verdict, arising from the first case to go to trial under the 2008 law, highlights the potential impact of class actions brought under this statute.

Continue Reading Illinois BIPA jury verdict highlights rising prominence of class actions based on state privacy statutes