(Reuters) – For tech companies, there was a confounding juxtaposition in the news this week.
The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals prides itself on putting up a united front. The court almost never grants requests to reconsider rulings by three-judge panels. (Maybe that’s why the 2nd Circuit’s “in banc” locution hasn’t displaced the more common “en banc.”) Instead, 2nd Circuit judges working on controversial opinions typically circulate drafts to the rest of the appeals court to probe for and resolve disagreements before the three-judge panel issues its opinion.
(Reuters) – Last month, facing what we now know to be as much as $852 million in exposure to drivers in California and Massachusetts, the ride-sharing company Uber agreed to a class action settlement with drivers in those states. At the time of the agreement, valued at between $84 and $100 million, Uber was in the midst of appealing a series of decisions by U.S. District Judge Edward Chen of San Francisco, who held that the company’s mandatory arbitration clause was unenforceable.
(Reuters) – More than 40 individual lawyers took the time to respond to a request for comments from a working group of the American Bar Association’s Commission on the Future of Legal Services, which is contemplating whether the ABA should relax its longtime opposition to non-lawyers investing in law firms. Of the 43 attorneys and law students who submitted their own comments, exactly one thinks it would be a good idea for the legal profession to allow alternative business structures.
(Reuters) – In 2012, after a bruising yearlong debate, the American Bar Association’s Commission on Ethics 20/20 chose not to propose a new model rule to permit lawyers to practice in firms owned in part by non-lawyers. At the time, Washington, D.C., was the only jurisdiction in the U.S. that allowed non-lawyers to take an ownership stake in a law firm, though other countries had begun to experiment with alternative law firm structures. An ABA working group dedicated to the issue drafted a proposal based on Washington’s rule, but, as the working group’s co-chair later recounted in a law review article, lawyers were overwhelmingly suspicious.
In the good old days of Delaware Chancery Court litigation – a mere 9 or 10 months ago – major corporate announcements would routinely be followed by shareholder suits. Then came last summer’s crackdown on disclosure-only settlements of M&A class actions. And just like that, Chancery Court filings dried up. When is the last time you heard about, say, a fight among plaintiffs’ firms to grab control of a Delaware shareholder suit?
The best test of the future of class action litigation at the U.S. Supreme Court may be the justices’ disposition of Google’s petition for certiorari in a case involving claims that the company deceived hundreds of thousands of California advertisers about the placement of Adwords ads.
Last week, New York University law professor Samuel Issacharoff filed a brief in his fourth U.S. Supreme Court case of the term, once again standing up for class action plaintiffs. This time, Issacharoff’s client is a union benefits fund prosecuting a racketeering class action against GlaxoSmithKline for allegedly defrauding private insurers by falsely marketing the diabetes drug Avandia. If Issacharoff is successful – as he has been in his three other cases this term – the justices will decide not to take the case.
(Reuters) – In 1971, when U.S. District Judge Manuel Real of Los Angeles had been on the court for only about five years, he got into a spat with defense lawyer Victor Sherman over Sherman’s attempt to impeach the government’s only witness against his client James Hibler, who was accused of robbing a postal carrier. In front of the jury, Judge Real taunted Sherman about the rules of procedure. “If you don’t know it Mr. Sherman, I am not here to teach you,” he said.
(Reuters) – The court system in this country is supposed to be open to the public. That’s a core principle, codified in the First Amendment and centuries of common law. Yet American corporations constantly push to restrict access to court records. Once in a while, media organizations or public interest groups get involved and orders to seal turn into First Amendment blowouts, but those cases are increasingly likely to be exceptions. Far more often, no one stands up in opposition when a corporation asks to seal or redact court filings.