Alison Frankel

In first of three big class action cases at SCOTUS, worrisome hints for plaintiffs

By Alison Frankel
October 16, 2015

(Reuters) – If you were looking for policy pronouncements from the U.S. Supreme Court about the proper use of the class action device, you were probably disappointed Wednesday after oral arguments in Campbell-Ewald v. Gomez, the first of the three big class action cases the justices will hear this term. In fact, when Gregory Garre of Latham & Watkins – who represents a marketing company that tried to end a Telephone Consumer Protection Act class action by offering the named plaintiff all of the statutory damages he was entitled to – broached a broad attack on class actions for benefiting only plaintiffs’ lawyers, Justice Elena Kagan shut him down.

Can fantasy sports players evade arbitration in case v. FanDuel, DraftKings?

By Alison Frankel
October 9, 2015

(Reuters) – If nothing else, a new class action complaint against the daily fantasy sports sites FanDuel and DraftKings should convince everyone who doesn’t spend a good part of the day studying sports statistics that, contrary to the sites’ ubiquitous television ads, you will not suddenly become a sexually magnetic millionaire by beating your buddies at fantasy sports. According to the complaint, a small band of expert players wins almost all of the money the sites dish out. The other 90 or so percent of bettors – “fish,” in the parlance – are basically providing enough money in entry fees to keep FanDuel and DraftKings profitable despite payouts to the small number of winners.

Thanks to judge with a sense of humor, ‘Muslims Are Coming!’ ads to run in NYC subways

By Alison Frankel
October 8, 2015

(Reuters) – It would be a sad state of affairs, according to U.S. District Judge Colleen McMahon of Manhattan, if every mention of Islam in this country were deemed a political act – even silly advertisements promoting both tolerance and a movie about Islamic comedians called “The Muslims Are Coming!” Happily for Judge McMahon (and really, for anyone who can take a joke), she has the authority to inject some sense into public discourse. On Wednesday, she ruled New York City’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority must permit the movie’s production company, Very Qualified Productions, to run its advertisements at 144 subway stations throughout the city.

Big Business wants to kill CFPB’s anti-arbitration rule. Here’s the game plan.

By Alison Frankel
October 7, 2015

(Reuters) – What the U.S. Supreme Court took away from consumers in its pro-arbitration decisions in AT&T Mobility v. Concepcion and American Express v. Italian Colors, the Consumer Financial Protection Board intends to give back.

VW: Restraining order bid is just maneuver by class action firm

By Alison Frankel
October 6, 2015

Can hundreds of class action lawyers be wrong?

Every day brings another clutch of filings against Volkswagen by clean diesel car owners who claim the automaker lied about their cars’ noxious emissions. Plaintiffs’ lawyers seem to regard the litigation against VW as a sure thing, thanks in no small part to the company’s own admissions. They’re assuming the case won’t be about whether VW is liable to car owners but about how much the company is going to have to pay.

VW hit with TRO application, Mayer Brown revealed as defense counsel

By Alison Frankel
October 5, 2015

(Reuters) – Volkswagen AG and its corporate offspring have been close-mouthed about revealing the law firms that will defend the automaker in U.S. class actions by owners of clean diesel vehicles. Kirkland & Ellis environmental partner Stuart Drake was copied on the Environmental Protection Agency’s Sept. 18 notice of violation to the company and the company confirmed Kirkland’s involvement to Bloomberg. But as the Am Law Daily has reported, Kirkland and VW haven’t said any more about the scope of Kirkland’s engagement. No lawyers have yet entered an appearance for the VW defendants at the Judicial Panel for Multidistrict Litigation, which will decide in December where the more than 200 class actions against the company will be consolidated.

Dow wields SCOTUS amicus brief to erase $1.1 billion antitrust judgment

By Alison Frankel
October 2, 2015

(Reuters) – Has Dow Chemical inserted itself into the U.S. Supreme Court’s review of the Tyson Foods wage-and-hour class action as part of a sophisticated strategy to wipe out a $1.1 billion antitrust judgment against Dow? That’s the accusation in an amicus brief filed this week in the Tyson case by urethanes purchasers who beat Dow in a 2013 trial in Kansas federal court.

In RJR case, Supreme Court to decide if RICO reaches abroad

By Alison Frankel
October 1, 2015

(Reuters) – On Thursday, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear RJR Nabisco v. European Community, which presents the question of whether U.S. courts can hear racketeering cases involving alleged overseas crimes or foreign enterprises. The Supreme Court’s answer to that question could have important consequences not just for global businesses like RJR but also for human rights plaintiffs shut out of court by the justices’ 2013 decision in Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum, which said victims of atrocities committed overseas generally cannot use the Alien Tort Statute to bring claims in U.S. courts.

Which court is going to hear Volkswagen class actions?

By Alison Frankel
September 30, 2015

(Reuters) – Here’s how fast class actions against Volkswagen are proliferating. Last Tuesday, when the California firm Morris Polich & Purdy filed the initial motion to consolidate litigation by VW owners who claim they were tricked by the automaker’s “clean diesel” claims, its brief cited “at least 20 actions” in seven jurisdictions. A week later, according to a brief by Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein and Seeger Weiss, the number was up to 175 suits. As of Wednesday, VW and Audi owners whose vehicles have been tainted by the emissions scandal have filed class actions in at least 40 federal jurisdictions in 30 different states.

Disgraced plaintiffs’ lawyer Gary Friedman on why his leaks shouldn’t topple the largest antitrust settlement in U.S. history

By Alison Frankel
September 29, 2015

(Reuters) – At last, Gary Friedman has decided to explain himself.

Friedman, in case you don’t remember his name, is the antitrust plaintiffs lawyer whose life was pitched into chaos in December, when his old friend Keila Ravelo was arrested for allegedly defrauding her client MasterCard and two law firms where she had been a partner, Willkie Farr & Gallagher and Hunton & Williams.