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
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
In a very big deal for TCPA class actions, the Supreme Court granted review today in Facebook, Inc. v. Duguid. The petition (pdf) raises the most significant issue in litigation under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA): what kind of equipment constitutes an “automatic telephone dialing system” (ADTS) triggering the TCPA’s restrictions on calls and texts? (The other question presented by the petition—the constitutionality and severability of the exception for government debts—was decided by the Court earlier this week.)
As we have reported, there is a deep circuit split over how to read the statutory language defining…
Continue Reading Supreme Court to decide what constitutes an autodialer under the TCPA
One of the most hotly-contested issues in litigation under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) is what equipment counts as an “automatic telephone dialing system” (ATDS) triggering the TCPA’s restrictions. In 2018, the D.C. Circuit threw out the FCC’s interpretation of the statutory definition of an ATDS—which was so broad as to encompass smartphones—as arbitrary and capricious. (See our report on the D.C. Circuit’s ACA International v. FCC decision.) In the wake of that decision—while parties await the FCC’s new rule—courts around the country have been weighing in how best to interpret the statutory text.
The issue is now the subject of a deep circuit split. In recent months, both the Seventh Circuit in Gadelhak v. AT&T Services, Inc. and the Eleventh Circuit in Glasser v. Hilton Grand Vacations Co. (pdf) have concluded that equipment that dials from a pre-selected list of phone numbers does not qualify as an ATDS. (Disclosure: Mayer Brown represented AT&T in Gadelhak; Archis was on the briefs in the Seventh Circuit.) The Seventh and Eleventh Circuits thus rejected the Ninth Circuit’s more expansive interpretation of ATDS in Marks v. Crunch San Diego, LLC. (See our report on Marks.) The Second Circuit, in contrast, recently followed the Marks interpretation in Duran v. La Boom Disco.
In light of this growing divide, lawyers on both sides of the “v.” are waiting for the Supreme Court to step in.Continue Reading Seventh and Eleventh Circuits Reject, But Second Circuit Follows, Ninth Circuit’s Expansive Autodialer Definition in Marks
Can you have a class action if class members can’t reliably be found? That question is at the heart of the debate over ascertainability—one that has divided the federal courts. Earlier this week, the Ninth Circuit weighed in, holding in Briseno v. ConAgra Foods, Inc. (pdf) that plaintiffs need not demonstrate “an administratively feasible way to identify class members [as] a prerequisite to class certification.”
That conclusion is disappointing.Continue Reading Ninth Circuit rejects meaningful ascertainability requirement for class certification, cementing deep circuit split
One of the hottest areas in class actions is litigation under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). And one of the most significant issues in TCPA litigation is the existence and scope of vicarious liability. The key question is to what extent are businesses liable for the actions of third-party marketers who, without the consent of the recipient, send text messages or place calls using autodialers or prerecorded voices or transmit faxes?
Some plaintiffs had argued that businesses are strictly liable for TCPA violations committed in their name by third-party marketers. Last year, the FCC rejected that approach in a…
Continue Reading Eleventh Circuit adopts broad view of businesses’ potential liability under TCPA for faxes sent by third parties
Nine years after the Class Action Fairness Act of 2005 (“CAFA”) was enacted, parties continue to fight over when federal jurisdiction over significant class and mass actions is proper.
In this post, we provide a rundown of some of the most important recent cases involving CAFA.Continue Reading Class Action Fairness Act Roundup
Over the years, the plaintiffs’ bar has used a wide variety of stratagems to try to prevent defendants from removing class actions to federal court. We’ve previously blogged about several of them. A recent Eleventh Circuit decision addresses yet another page from the plaintiffs’ playbook.
Defendants often can remove significant class actions under the Class Action Fairness Act (CAFA) when there is at least minimal diversity of parties and the amount in controversy exceeds $5 million. In South Florida Wellness, Inc. v. Allstate Insurance Co. (pdf), the plaintiffs tried to prevent the defendant from satisfying CAFA’s $5 million amount-in-controversy…
Continue Reading Plaintiffs Can’t Evade Removal Under Class Action Fairness Act By Suing For Only Declaratory Relief
Plaintiffs routinely bring consumer class actions under statutes that allow only consumers—not businesses—to bring claims, or that are limited to transactions solely for personal or household purposes. See, e.g., Electronic Funds Transfer Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1693a(2); Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act, 12 U.S.C. § 2606(a)(1); California’s Consumer Legal Remedies Act, Cal. Civ. Code § 1780. But in some cases, the “consumer” requirement can be the Achilles’ heel for class certification. If it is difficult to determine whether a particular customer is a “consumer” without individualized inquiries, a proposed class action may flunk the predominance,…
Continue Reading Use the “Consumer” in Consumer Class Actions to Defeat Certification
The Class Action Fairness Act of 2005 (“CAFA”) provides that defendants may remove certain mass actions—cases that are proposed to be tried jointly—so long as the aggregate amount at stake is at least $5 million and there are 100 or more plaintiffs in the case. 28 U.S.C. § 1332(d)(11). But what if plaintiffs’ counsel try to avoid removal by splitting up a 100-plaintiff mass action into two smaller mass actions?
That was the situation facing Carnival. After a cruise ship ran aground off the coast of Italy, plaintiffs’ lawyers filed a mass action in state court on behalf of…
Continue Reading Can Plaintiffs Gerrymander Mass Actions to Avoid Federal Jurisdiction?