Under Article III of the U.S. Constitution, a plaintiff must allege that he or she has suffered an “injury-in-fact” to establish standing to sue in federal court. Today, the Supreme Court granted certiorari in Spokeo, Inc. v. Robins, No. 13-1339, to decide whether Congress may confer Article III standing by authorizing a private right of action based on a bare violation of a federal statute, even though the plaintiff has not suffered any concrete harm.

The Court’s resolution of this question in Spokeo could affect a number of different types of class actions that have been instituted in
Continue Reading U.S. Supreme Court Agrees To Hear Spokeo, Inc. v. Robins And Decide Whether Plaintiffs Who Have Suffered No Concrete Harm Nonetheless Have Article III Standing To Sue In Federal Court

In NECA-IBEW v. Goldman Sachs, the Second Circuit arguably opened up a new door in class action litigation when it held that investors in one securities offering had standing to represent a putative class of investors in other offerings, as long as the fraud claims on both securities gave rise to “the same set of concerns.” (Our past coverage of that decision is here.) The Second Circuit’s recent decision in Policemen’s Annuity and Benefit Fund v. The Bank of New York Mellon, argued by our colleague Charles Rothfeld, clarifies and narrows that ruling, especially as to
Continue Reading Second Circuit Narrows Class Standing Doctrine

The Supreme Court is currently considering a petition for certiorari in Spokeo Inc. v. Robins (pdf), which raises the question whether Congress may confer Article III standing upon a plaintiff who suffers no concrete harm, and who therefore could not otherwise invoke the jurisdiction of a federal court, by authorizing a private right of action based on a bare violation of a federal statute. This question of Article III standing potentially impacts a wide variety of lawsuits that we (and others) view as “no-injury” class actions.

In Spokeo (in which we represent the petitioner), the Supreme Court recently called for
Continue Reading Standing Without Injury? Washington Legal Foundation Webinar Addresses “No-Injury” Class Actions

For years, defendants have argued that federal courts may not entertain class-action lawsuits when the plaintiff does not allege that he or she suffered any concrete personal harm and instead relies solely on an “injury in law” based on an alleged exposure to a technical violation of a federal statute. As we (and others) have contended, Article III of the U.S. Constitution places limits on the jurisdiction of federal courts, and therefore forbids lawsuits when a plaintiff has not suffered an “injury in fact”—one of the critical elements of standing. That requirement has constitutional dimensions; as the Supreme Court explained in DaimlerChrysler Corp v. Cuno, “[n]o principle is more fundamental to the judiciary’s proper role in our system of government than the constitutional limitation of federal-court jurisdiction to actual cases or controversies.” Thus, although Congress enjoys significant latitude to create private causes of action, it cannot invent standing to sue in federal court when, in the absence of the federal statute, a plaintiff could not allege a real and palpable injury.

Nearly two years ago, the Supreme Court appeared poised to answer the question whether Congress can essentially create Article III standing in First American Financial Corp. v. Edwards. But—in a surprising turn of events—the Court dismissed the case as improvidently granted on the last day of its term. Readers can be forgiven if they don’t remember the occasion, as it was the same day that the Court issued its far more attention-getting rulings in the health-care cases. Yet the non-decision was extremely significant: as Deepak Gupta, one of the leading appellate lawyers in the plaintiffs’ bar, tweeted, “On pins and needles for First Am Fin’l v Edwards standing decision tomorrow. Oh yeah, and I hear there’s some health thing pending too.” Kevin Russell of SCOTUSblog similarly observed: “Lost in the hubbub of the health care decision is the Court’s surprise punt in a case that many (including myself) thought would be the sleeper case of the Term.”

Fast forward to now: As soon as next Friday (March 7), the Supreme Court will decide whether to grant a petition for certiorari (pdf) that we have filed in Charvat v. First National Bank of Wahoo, which presents essentially the same question as in First American: “Whether Congress has the authority to confer Article III standing to sue when the plaintiff suffers no concrete harm and alleges as an injury only a bare, technical violation of a federal statute.”

Continue Reading Cert Petition Asks Supreme Court To Decide Whether Congress Can Allow Uninjured Plaintiffs To Sue In Federal Court

Here’s a great formula for becoming a rich plaintiffs’-side class-action lawyer:

  1. Copy-and-paste some cookie-cutter complaints alleging technical statutory violations. 
  2. Send demand letters to a group of deep-pocketed targets and negotiate coupon settlements with them before even filing the complaints.
  3. Then seek a six- or seven-figure award of attorneys’ fees for doing no heavy lifting, bearing no risk of non-payment, and providing no meaningful social benefit. 

But a district judge in Massachusetts recently changed the equation by cutting a class counsel’s fee request by more than eighty percent in Brenner v. J.C. Penney Co. (pdf).

Brenner was one of a series
Continue Reading Why Did A Federal Court Slash Class Counsel’s Proposed Fee Award In A Zip-Code Class Action By More Than 80 Percent?


Most people are familiar with Fig Newtons, an iconic cookie that has been around for over a century (at least according to its Wikipedia entry).  There are many other popular versions of Newtons—albeit of more recent vintage—such as raspberry and strawberry Newtons.  These fruit Newtons drew the ire of plaintiff Monique Manchouck, who filed a false advertising class action in the Northern District of California—which has become known as the nation’s “Food Court” —against the makers of the cookies.

What was her beef?  According to her complaint, the product packaging states that Newtons are “made with real fruit.”  
Continue Reading “Food Court” Rejects Class Action Alleging That Fruit Newtons Labels Are Misleading

The plaintiffs’ bar continues to march forward in bringing privacy-related class actions. As we’ve written before, companies have often been able to defeat such lawsuits at the pleading stage when plaintiffs cannot allege that they suffered a harm that was concrete or cognizable. But that trend has not been universal: In a recent case involving Apple, the federal court for the Northern District of California refused to dismiss the majority of claims, in large measure because the plaintiff alleged that she relied on the company’s online representations concerning the privacy and security of personal information.

In Pirozzi v. Apple,
Continue Reading App Store Privacy Class Action Survives Apple’s Motion to Dismiss In Light Of Online Representations

When a company’s computer systems are raided by hackers, all too often it must brace itself for being victimized a second time by the class action bar. Plaintiffs frequently target such companies for class actions on behalf of the consumers whose data might have been exposed as a result of the potential data breach.
The fact that the consumers rarely have experienced any real harm can be the Achilles’ heel of these data-breach class actions. “World of Warcraft” creator Blizzard Entertainment Inc. was able to capitalize on this vulnerability when a court dismissed most of a putative class action against
Continue Reading Failure to Allege Harm Narrows Data-Breach Suit

We recently blogged about one of the recent “class standing” decisions holding that a named plaintiff has standing to represent a class on false advertising claims challenging products the named plaintiff never purchased with labels the named plaintiff never saw. According to that decision, so long as the products that were purchased by the named plaintiff were “sufficiently similar” to the products purchased by the putative class, the named plaintiff had the requisite “sufficient ‘personal stake’ in the litigation” for standing purposes. For example, a named plaintiff who purchased only a few varieties of green tea had standing to sue
Continue Reading I May Have “Standing” To Sue For False Advertising Of Products I Didn’t Purchase, But Do I Satisfy The “Typicality” Requirement Of Rule 23?

As we have blogged before, the food and beverage industry is facing a tidal wave of class action litigation alleging false advertising under state consumer protection laws. We monitor hundreds of these cases, which often present a similar standing issue – the class representative has purchased one product, say Ben & Jerry’s All Natural Chunky Monkey Ice Cream, which he says was falsely advertised as “all natural,” but seeks to represent a nationwide class of consumers challenging all varieties of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream marketed as “all natural,” including, for example, Chubby Hubby.

One of the latest decisions
Continue Reading “Sure I Didn’t Buy It, But I’m Suing for False Advertising Anyway!”