The Supreme Court’s recent decision in Mallory v. Norfolk Southern Railway Co. creates substantial uncertainty over whether companies that register to do business in certain states can be subject to personal jurisdiction for claims unrelated to the forum—because those states require consent to general jurisdiction as a condition of registration. Mallory involved a Pennsylvania law treating registration to do business “as a foreign corporation” as a “sufficient basis” for “general personal jurisdiction” over that corporation.

In a splintered set of opinions, the Supreme Court rejected a challenge to the law under the Due Process Clause. Five Justices agreed that—in this case—assertion of jurisdiction based on the Pennsylvania law was not unconstitutional as a matter of due process. But one of those five Justices (Justice Alito) indicated that the due process issue might be resolved differently under other facts. And Justice Alito strongly suggested in his concurrence that the dormant Commerce Clause might prohibit a state from requiring consent to general personal jurisdiction as a condition of doing business. The four dissenting Justices would have held that jurisdiction based on the law violates the Due Process Clause.

The Pennsylvania courts are likely to consider (at minimum) the dormant Commerce Clause challenge on remand. In the meantime, the fractured nature of the Court’s opinions—combined with the reality that, despite the result, five Justices have questioned the constitutionality of Pennsylvania’s requirement—ensures further litigation over so-called “consent-by-registration” jurisdictional statutes.Continue Reading Supreme Court rejects Due Process Clause challenge to Pennsylvania statute requiring out-of-state corporations to consent to jurisdiction as a condition of registering to do business

Today the Supreme Court held that when a party files an immediate appeal of a federal district court order denying arbitration, the district court must stay its proceedings relating to the merits (including discovery) during the appeal. The decision in Coinbase, Inc. v. Bielski will have a significant impact in federal courts in California and New York in particular, where the prior regime had given district courts wide discretion over whether to grant full or partial stays pending appeal or to deny stays altogether.

As we anticipated from attending the oral arguments, the Justices were closely divided on the issue. In an opinion for the Court written by Justice Kavanaugh, the Court held, by a vote of 5-4, that “the district court must stay its proceedings” pending the outcome of the appeal.Continue Reading Supreme Court holds that district courts must stay proceedings pending appeals of orders denying arbitration

The D.C. Circuit recently deepened a circuit split over whether district courts may certify a “fail-safe” class. In In re White, 64 F.4th 302 (D.C. Cir. 2023),the D.C. Circuit agreed that fail-safe classes are generally improper, but rejected the views of other circuits that categorically forbid such classes . Instead of what it described as an “extra-textual” limitation on class certification, the D.C. Circuit held that the existing requirements of Rule 23 (and a district court’s discretion to alter proposed class definitions) should be used to prevent certification of fail-safe classes.Continue Reading D.C. Circuit rejects freestanding rule against “fail-safe” classes

State consumer-protection statutes frequently authorize claims for class-wide injunctive relief; notably, California courts have fashioned a similar remedy allowing for injunctions on behalf of the “general public.” Plaintiffs bringing class actions alleging that a company’s advertising is deceptive or misleading frequently tack on to their damages claims a request to enjoin the disputed marketing—sometimes to halt allegedly false advertising and sometimes to require the company to disclose some allegedly concealed fact about its product or service. These types of injunction claims are especially common in cases against food and beverage companies. But it is difficult to square these injunction claims with Article III standing requirements, and companies defending against class actions in federal court should be aware of the potential for seeking dismissal of requests for injunctive relief on standing grounds.Continue Reading The importance of scrutinizing standing to seek injunctive relief in defending or settling false-advertising suits

A common feature in class action settlements is an incentive (or service) award for each named plaintiff—an extra payment above and beyond what they would receive as ordinary class members that is in theory designed to compensate them for the work of being a named plaintiff. A circuit split has developed over whether incentive awards are permissible in federal class action lawsuits.  But the Supreme Court’s guidance on whether these awards are improper will have to await another day, because the Court recently denied the petitions for review in Johnson v. Dickenson, No. 22-389, and Dickenson v. Johnson, No. 22-517.Continue Reading Supreme Court declines to hear challenge to validity of incentive awards

This morning we attended the Supreme Court’s oral arguments in Coinbase, Inc. v. Bielski. The issue presented in Coinbase is a procedural one, but of tremendous practical importance to defendants that seek to enforce arbitration agreements: does an appeal from an order denying a motion to compel arbitration automatically stay further proceedings in the district court during the appeal? Continue Reading Supreme Court hears oral argument in cases involving stays pending appeals of orders denying motions to compel arbitration

Win or lose, class actions that make it past the pleadings threaten businesses with enormous defense costs, especially the costs associated with class-wide discovery. As we’ve discussed before on this blog, one powerful tool for defendants to avoid these costs is to file an early motion to strike class allegations, taking a shot at nipping the class action in the bud when it is apparent from the pleadings that a class cannot be certified.

We were therefore pleased to see the Fifth Circuit recently join the growing ranks of courts that have endorsed pre-discovery motions to strike class allegations. In Elson v. Black, 56 F.4th 1002 (5th Cir. 2023), the court affirmed the district court’s order striking plaintiffs’ class allegations in their entirety. (The court also affirmed in large part the dismissal of the individual plaintiffs’ claims.)        Continue Reading Fifth Circuit affirms striking class allegations at the pleadings stage

Earlier this week, a Ninth Circuit panel sided with a coalition of business groups to affirm a preliminary injunction that stopped California state officials from enforcing California’s AB 51, a 2019 law that would have effectively prevented the formation of employment arbitration agreements in California. (Mayer Brown lawyers filed the lawsuit on behalf of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the California Chamber of Commerce and led briefing and argument in the Ninth Circuit.) This decision eliminates the considerable uncertainty about the use of arbitration to resolve employment disputes that had been caused by the enactment of AB 51 and

Continue Reading Ninth Circuit Upholds Injunction Blocking a California Law That Would Have Severely Limited Employment Arbitration Agreements

Motions to dismiss federal-court actions based on a lack of Article III standing are succeeding more frequently—thanks to the Supreme Court’s 2021 decision in TransUnion LLC v. Ramirez.  That ruling reaffirmed and clarified that every plaintiff must plausibly allege a “concrete injury” that is “‘real,’ and not ‘abstract,’” even when the plaintiff claims a violation of federal statutory rights.

This past June, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Institute for Legal Reform (ILR) issued TransUnion and Concrete Harm: One Year Later, a 68-page report that we authored for ILR. It explains the multiple arguments made available, or strengthened, by

Continue Reading The Courts of Appeals’ Rigorous Application of TransUnion’s Standing Analysis Continues To Provide Defendants With Strong Arguments For Defeating Non-Injury Class Actions

Yesterday, the Supreme Court held in Viking River Cruises, Inc. v. Moriana (pdf) that the Federal Arbitration Act preempts a California rule invalidating arbitration agreements that provide for arbitration of an employee’s own claims under California’s Private Attorney General Act (PAGA), but waive the employee’s ability to assert PAGA claims affecting others.

The decision is enormously important to companies seeking to enforce workplace arbitration agreements in California. The decision also provides businesses with powerful arguments that California laws restricting arbitration in the consumer setting are preempted as well. (Disclosure: we filed an amicus brief (pdf) in support of the petition

Continue Reading Supreme Court strikes down California rule barring individualized arbitration of California PAGA claims