A recent decision denying certification of a securities-fraud class action underscores that plaintiffs must prove with evidence that they satisfy the requirements of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23, not merely allege that they do so or promise that they can.

The decision in In re Kosmos Energy Limited Securities Litigation arose from a class action filed in the Northern District of Texas by plaintiffs challenging certain statements made in connection with the defendant’s initial public offering (“IPO”). The court denied the plaintiff’s motion to certify a putative class of stock purchasers.

In its opinion, the court provided a
Continue Reading Class-Action Plaintiffs Must Offer Evidence Showing That They Meet Class-Certification Requirements

Here’s the situation: You’re facing a class action in federal court in which the plaintiffs define the putative class so broadly as to encompass many people who weren’t injured by the alleged wrongdoing. For example, consider a false-advertising class action on behalf of “all purchasers” of a product that the vast majority of purchasers would have used without any problem whatsoever, meaning that the alleged rarely occurring (or entirely hypothetical) defect that the defendant failed to disclose makes no difference to them. What’s the best way to attack this weakness in the complaint?

One option would be to characterize the
Continue Reading Do the Plaintiffs Lack Standing or Are Their Claims Simply Meritless—or Both?

We’ve been blogging about the Second Circuit’s decision in NECA-IBEW Health & Welfare Fund v. Goldman Sachs (pdf), which held that a named plaintiff in a securities fraud suit might have standing in some situations to assert class action claims regarding securities that he or she never purchased. Yesterday, the Supreme Court denied (pdf) Goldman’s petition for certiorari (pdf) in that case. We’ll continue reporting on the aftermath of the Second Circuit’s decision.

In the meantime, defendants facing these sorts of claims should remember that the Second Circuit’s novel standing test requires that the claims regarding the unpurchased securities raise
Continue Reading Supreme Court Denies Review In NECA-IBEW Case

The requirement that the named plaintiff must be an adequate class representative is not often the basis for denying class certification. But a recent decision from the Northern District of Illinois in a false-advertising class action illustrates the importance of taking discovery on facts that are relevant to the adequacy standard.

In Lipton v. Chattem, Inc., the district court denied class certification in a case alleging that purchasers of a weight-loss product, Dexatrim, had been deceived because the label did not disclose that its ingredients included hexavalent chromium, which allegedly can cause serious health problems. The court held that
Continue Reading Lipton v. Chattem, Inc.: Federal District Court Denies Certification On Adequacy Grounds

A recent decision from the Delaware Supreme Court is a reminder that the members of a mandatory class—one in which the class isn’t guaranteed opt-out rights—sometimes may be given the right to opt out in order to pursue their own individual actions.

The decision, In re Celera Corp. Shareholder Litigation (pdf), addressed a class settlement of claims that the directors of Celera Corp. had breached their fiduciary duties in agreeing to a merger with Quest Diagnostics. The settlement promised “therapeutic benefits” to the class of Celera shareholders, such as additional disclosures and changes to the merger agreement that made it
Continue Reading Can Members of a Mandatory Class Action Opt Out?

Plaintiff Christopher Rapczynski testified that he purchased Skinnygirl Margarita mix “because I love my wife,” she “said she liked it,” and she “has my three children and works very hard.” Those all may be good reasons for a nice Valentine’s Day present, but not for bringing a class action. As the Southern District of New York recently held, Rapczynski was an inadequate class representative—not for lack of love—but because he hadn’t relied on the allegedly false claim on the product’s label about which he was suing. For that and other reasons, the court denied certification of a putative class of
Continue Reading Class Certification Denied in Skinnygirl False-Advertising Case Because Class Representative Didn’t Rely on Label

According to an interesting student note that will soon be published in the Stanford Law Review, the answer to both questions is “yes.” Specifically, the would-be class counsel must “protect[] the substantive legal rights of putative class members . . . from prejudice” “resulting from the actions of class counsel.”

The implications for defendants opposing class certification are significant: If the plaintiff’s lawyers have prejudiced the rights of absent class members, then they have demonstrated that they will not “fairly and adequate protect the interests of the class,” as required by Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(a)(4). And
Continue Reading Do Class Counsel Owe Fiduciary Duties to Absent Class Members Before Class Certification (and Should Defendants Care)?

The Ninth Circuit’s recent decision in a TCPA case—Meyer v. Portfolio Recovery Associates (pdf)—involves several interesting issues for class-action practitioners even outside the TCPA setting.

First, a bit of background. In Meyer, the plaintiff sued a debt collector under the TCPA, alleging that it used an autodialer to call his cell phone number impermissibly. The plaintiff sought statutory damages and injunctive relief on behalf of a putative class of all California residents whom the defendant had called at cell phone numbers that had not been provided as part of the transaction giving rise to the debt in question. The district court certified the class under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(b)(2) for the limited purpose of entering a preliminary injunction against the challenged conduct. The Ninth Circuit affirmed.

Setting aside the TCPA issues—which will be addressed in a subsequent post—the Ninth Circuit’s decision contains several holdings that should be of interest (and concern) to class-action defendants more broadly:


Continue Reading Ninth Circuit Upholds “Provisional” Class Certification for Entry of a Preliminary Injunction in TCPA Class Action

Should a class action go forward when the company voluntarily has provided all the relief plaintiffs have sought?  At least in some circumstances, the answer is “no,” according to the Tenth Circuit.

Here’s some background.   Many product manufacturers—and especially auto makers—are targeted by the class action bar when they announce voluntary recalls.  The lawsuits typically allege (among other things) that the manufacturer had fraudulently concealed the defect, and seek an injunction ordering the manufacturer to repair the defect.  In other words, these suits seek precisely the same relief that the manufacturer is already providing.  Sometimes the plaintiffs tack on requests
Continue Reading Class Action Attacking Product Defect Declared Moot When Company Voluntarily Recalled Challenged Product