Alison Frankel

Class action lawyer blasts Target’s data breach deal with MasterCard

April 16, 2015

(Reuters) – When I saw news Wednesday that Target had reached a $19 million settlement with MasterCard to reimburse issuers of MasterCard-branded cards for costs associated with Target’s gigantic 2013 data breach, I thought there was something strange about the announcement. Target has been embroiled in multidistrict litigation over the data breach since 2014, including consolidated class actions by financial institutions that claim to have spent billions of dollars to replace compromised cards and beef up customer service operations because of the data breach. Last December, U.S. District Judge Paul Magnuson of St. Paul, Minnesota, refused to dismiss the banks’ case.

The 2nd Circuit can’t agree on reach of civil RICO. Next stop SCOTUS?

April 15, 2015

(Reuters) – If there was any doubt about the complexity of applying the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2010 ruling in Morrison v. National Australia Bank to the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, it was resolved Monday by the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in a case called European Community v. RJR Nabisco. To be clear: the 2nd Circuit didn’t resolve the issue of RICO’s extraterritorial reach, although a majority of court declined to hear the RJR case en banc. But the appeals court decision – which included four dissenting opinions from five 2nd Circuit judges – confirms the difficulty of deciding when plaintiffs can bring civil RICO suits based on alleged crimes that took place abroad.

Can Saudi government once again evade suit by 9/11 families?

April 14, 2015

(Reuters) – In dueling briefs filed Friday, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the families of people killed in the attacks of September 11, 2001 made their last written arguments to U.S. District Judge George Daniels of Manhattan, who will decide later this year whether the families can bring claims against Saudi Arabia for allegedly helping al Qaeda operatives carry out the 9/11 attacks.

Class action fee award system is broken. Here’s how to fix it: law profs

April 10, 2015

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about a fee opinion by U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan of Manhattan, who decided that a request by class counsel for 13 percent of a $346 million settlement with underwriters of IndyMac mortgage-backed securities was just too much. Even though the 13 percent request was in line with the fee deal plaintiffs’ firms had negotiated in advance of the litigation with the lead plaintiff, a public pension fund, Kaplan cut the fee award to 8 percent, based on his own experience with securities class actions and skepticism about the hours reported by class counsel.

11th Circuit to hear class cert challenge from moldy washer defendant

April 9, 2015

(Reuters) – Way back in October 2013, the home appliances company Electrolux first petitioned the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to permit its appeal of the certification of a class of washing machine purchasers. At the time, the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Comcast v. Behrend was only seven months old. Electrolux’s lawyers at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom cited the decision to argue that U.S. District Judge Lisa Wood of Augusta, Georgia, should not have granted certification to two statewide classes of consumers who claimed their front-loading Electrolux washers were defectively designed with a tendency to develop a moldy smell.

Arab Bank judge sets low causation bar for Anti-Terrorism claims

April 8, 2015

(Reuters) – The Anti-Terrorism Act – which grafts civil remedies onto criminal statutes aimed at international attacks by militant groups – is confusing. As U.S. District Judge Brian Cogan of Brooklyn explained Wednesday in an opinion upholding a jury verdict of liability under the ATA against Jordan-based Arab Bank, the civil provisions “are derived from a complicated series of incorporations by reference” from the criminal laws – not, in other words, the easiest statutory texts for judges to interpret.

Influential U.S. judge calls on Congress to define insider trading

April 7, 2015

(Reuters) – On Monday, U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff of Manhattan got up onto his well-worn soapbox to suggest that if Congress wants to protect U.S. markets from inside traders, lawmakers ought to specify when it is illegal to trade on confidential information.

How Western banks hope to shake ex-U.S. soldiers’ Iran terror suit

April 6, 2015

(Reuters) – On Friday, plaintiffs lawyer Gary Osen filed an amended complaint in federal district court in Brooklyn for more than 200 former U.S. soldiers (or their survivors) who claim to have been victims of Iran-sponsored attacks during the Iraq war. The original complaint in Freeman v. HSBC, filed in November, accused five Western banks – HSBC, Credit Suisse, Standard Chartered, Royal Bank of Scotland and Barclays – of conspiring with Iranian banks that the U.S. has designated as agents of state-sponsored attacks. The supposed goal of the conspiracy was to mask wire transactions to evade U.S. sanctions against Iran, facilitating Iran’s alleged funding of militant groups operating in Iraq at Iran’s direction, including Kataib Hezbollah and Quds Force, the overseas arm of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

Skadden’s new theory on why SEC in-house judges are unconstitutional

April 2, 2015

For the second time in the last six months, Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom has reframed the debate over the Securities and Exchange Commission’s right to bring enforcement cases as administrative proceedings before in-house judges instead of federal court suits before U.S. district judges.

War looms between plaintiffs’ firms after suit vs. Walmart board is tossed

April 1, 2015

(Reuters) – When Delaware shareholder lawyer Stuart Grant of Grant & Eisenhofer gets mad, he says so.