(Reuters) – It has only been a few months since Delaware Chancery Court launched its disruption of M&A shareholder litigation but the data already show the class action bar has responded. As Securities and Exchange economist Matthew Cain and Berkeley law professor Steven Davidoff Solomon demonstrated in their latest analysis of shareholder class actions filed in the wake of big merger announcements, new suits fell off a cliff in the last quarter of 2015, after Delaware judges informed plaintiffs and defendants that they’d no longer routinely approve disclosure-only settlements.
(Reuters) – Past performance, as they tell us in mutual fund advertisements, does not guarantee future results. But a new study of 93,000 certiorari petitions filed at the U.S. Supreme Court between the court’s 2001 and 2015 terms is more evidence that a small group of Supreme Court practitioners enjoy outsized success in persuading the justices to accept cases from their clients.
(Reuters) – These are early days in the consolidated consumer litigation over Volkswagen’s emissions cheating software, but U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer of San Francisco has already shown lawyers that he – and not the class action bar – is firmly in charge. I have a strong suspicion that the judge will continue to ignore the usual MDL dance steps as he nears a decision on which plaintiffs’ lawyers will lead the case.
(Reuters) – A majority of the U.S. Supreme Court showed Wednesday that it knows exactly what defendants have been up to in class actions involving relatively small damages for individual class members. In the court’s opinion in Campbell-Ewald Company v. Gomez, five justices said defendants can’t squelch class actions by offering full judgment to named plaintiffs and asserting the case is therefore moot, even if the named plaintiff rejects the offer.
(Reuters) – Remember the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals’ stirring “Company Doe” opinion in April 2014? A business later revealed to be the California baby products maker ErgoBaby had sued anonymously to block the Consumer Product Safety Commission from reporting what ErgoBaby considered an inaccurate and potentially damaging incident report on the CPSC’s public database. The 4th Circuit said it understood why ErgoBaby didn’t want its name revealed in a case that was, after all, brought to protect the company’s public image. But the appellate panel ruled the First Amendment right of access to court records “does not yield” to a corporation’s fears about its reputation.
(Reuters) – If the widow of a U.S. government contractor killed in a 2015 Islamic State shooting in Amman, Jordan, wins her newly filed Anti-Terrorism Act suit against Twitter, there could be enormous consequences for social media sites. As my colleague Jon Stempel reported Thursday, extremist groups are well known to use the Internet to recruit new members and plan attacks. Liability to victims of these attacks – and the treble damages available under the ATA – could mean significant exposure and reputational harm for sites frequented by extremists.
(Reuters) – In my business, every document filed under seal is a provocation. Obviously, protective orders are sometimes the only way businesses can shield trade secrets and people can preserve their privacy, but as the U.S. Supreme Court said in the 1978 decision Nixon v. Warner Communications, the public’s right of access to court records is deeply rooted in common law. Confidentiality should a rare exception, not a reflexive default.
(Reuters) – The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined to review a 2015 ruling from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that struck down part of a California law granting resale royalties to fine artists. The artists who filed a petition for certiorari pitched the case as a chance for the justices to rethink the court’s 1989 precedent on the constitutionality of state laws that impact commerce in other states but are not discriminatory or burdensome. But the Supreme Court is in no rush to accept that invitation. In fact, the justices just last month rejected a request to take up a 10th Circuit case that raised the same issue.
(Reuters) – Late Wednesday, Delaware U.S. Attorney Charles Oberly announced the indictment of Wilmington Trust, which is accused of hiding failed loans in its commercial real estate portfolio in 2009 and 2010. The bank’s supposed deception of regulators and investors propped up the bank’s shaky financials as it undertook a $274 million stock offering in February 2010 to repay money it had accepted from the U.S. government’s Troubled Asset Relief Program.
(Reuters) – Class action lawyers didn’t need the New York Times’ epic series on mandatory arbitration to alert them to the impact of corporate contracts requiring consumers to waive their right to sue. Plaintiffs’ lawyers have been engaged for years in hand-to-hand battles over arbitration clauses, in a war to prove class action waivers are unconscionable. Unfortunately for them, the U.S. Supreme Court has rendered the campaign almost entirely unsuccessful, despite overwhelming statistical evidence that class actions deliver more cash to more consumers than individual arbitrations.