Ninth Circuit

In Davidson v. Sprout Foods, Inc., — F.4th —, 2024 WL 3213277 (9th Cir. June 28, 2024), a divided Ninth Circuit panel held that private plaintiffs can bring claims for violations of California’s food labeling law that mirror federal law requirements, even though private plaintiffs lack a cause of action to enforce federal law directly.  In reaching this conclusion, the court determined that the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FDCA) does not preempt private enforcement of California’s Sherman Law, even though the Sherman Law incorporates the FDCA by reference and private plaintiffs typically cannot sue to enforce the FDCA.Continue Reading Split Ninth Circuit Panel Permits Private Plaintiffs to Use California Food Labeling Law to Enforce Federal Standards

In a case of first impression, the Ninth Circuit recently held that when there is ambiguity about the scope of a putative or certified class, American Pipe statute of limitations tolling should generally apply to potentially excluded class members.  This question is likely to arise where a proposed class definition is narrowed during the course of litigation such that certain putative members may no longer fit within the definition.  Should those now-excluded bystander plaintiffs argue that American Pipe tolling applies to their claims, courts in the Ninth Circuit are now instructed to resolve that ambiguity in favor of such bystander plaintiffs.Continue Reading A Closer Look: Ninth Circuit Extends American Pipe Tolling to Potentially Excluded Class Members in Face of Ambiguous Class Definitions

A district court judge in the Northern District of California recently denied class certification in a putative privacy class action against Google and its Real Time Bidding (“RTB”) advertising system. Plaintiffs moved to certify both damages and injunctive relief classes based on allegations that Google shared personal information through its RTB system. The court denied with prejudice certification under Rule 23(b)(3), finding that individual questions about class member’s past consent to—and subjective understanding of—Google’s disclosures would predominate. The district court also denied the proposed injunctive relief class on the grounds that the proposed class definition was “fail-safe” and that plaintiffs had not met their burden to prove that their data was representative of the proposed class, but the court did so with leave to amend and requested further briefing. Plaintiffs subsequently petitioned for leave to appeal the denial to the Ninth Circuit.Continue Reading Affirmative Defense of Consent Leads to 23(b)(3) Class Certification Denial in Google Ad Bidding Privacy Litigation

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

In class actions challenging data collection, whether the defendant’s privacy policy disclosed the collection is almost always a key question at the dismissal stage.  In a memorandum decision likely to be useful to defendants, the Ninth Circuit recently affirmed dismissal of claims challenging Google’s collection of data from third-party apps on its Android mobile operating system, holding that Google’s Privacy Policy clearly disclosed the collection.  See Hammerling v. Google LLC, No. 22-17024 (9th Cir. Mar. 5, 2024) (unpublished).Continue Reading Ninth Circuit Affirms Dismissal of Data Privacy Claims Based on Disclosure of Collection in Privacy Policy

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 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