Alison Frankel

Judge on Target/MasterCard deal: ‘I just can’t see where that’s fair’

April 29, 2015

When Target announced earlier this month that it had reached a $19 million settlement with MasterCard to resolve data-breach-related claims by banks that issued MasterCard-branded credit and debit cards, lawyers representing a class of financial institutions suing Target put up a loud protest. The MasterCard deal purports to compensate participating banks for the costs they incurred as a result of the breach of Target’s data in 2013, both for fraudulent charges on cards compromised in the breach and for the expense of sending customers replacement cards. But the banks have to agree to drop all of their potential claims in the class action.

SCOTUS to decide if ‘unharmed’ plaintiffs have right to sue

April 27, 2015

(Reuters) – Just about a year ago, the U.S. Supreme Court decided not to hear a case involving a class action against a couple of Midwestern banks that didn’t post both of the required notices on its ATM machines. The banks’ petition for certiorari raised the same question that had piqued the Supreme Court’s interest in the 2011 case First American Financial v. Edwards: Can Congress confer constitutional standing on otherwise uninjured consumers by giving them a private right of action? But the justices mysteriously dismissed First American on the last day of their term in 2012 and were unwilling to revisit the tough question of Congress and consumers’ right to sue in the ATM case, prompting me to ask in a column if the Supreme Court had lost its zeal to curb consumer class actions.

Ammo dealers want Aurora massacre victim’s parents to pay their legal fees

April 24, 2015

In the great moral reckoning of the universe, does it make sense for the parents of an exceptional young woman cut down in a mass shooting to be on the hook to Internet ammunitions dealers for nearly a quarter of a million dollars?

BofA ‘Hustle’ appeal tests Justice’s novel use of old S&L statute

April 23, 2015

(Reuters) – In successive rulings in 2013, three well-regarded federal judges in Manhattan endorsed the Justice Department’s creative adaptation of an old law from the savings and loan crisis of the 1980s to cases against banks involved in the financial crisis of the 2000s. That April, U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan refused to dismiss the government’s civil suit against Bank of New York Mellon. Similar rulings followed in August from U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff in the so-called “Hustle” case against Bank of America and in September from U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman in a Justice Department civil suit against Wells Fargo.

Men face high bar to claim discrimination by campus sex assault tribunals

April 22, 2015

On Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman of Manhattan dismissed an anonymous male student’s gender discrimination case against Columbia University and its board of trustees. The student, who was suspended for three semesters after a campus tribunal determined he had engaged in non-consensual sex with an anonymous female student, had contended that Columbia’s investigation and prosecution of the incident violated Title IX, which prohibits universities from gender discrimination. The John Doe student, who said his accuser consented to their encounter in her dorm room bathroom and even provided the condom they used, alleged he was treated unfairly because of Columbia’s atmosphere of heightened sensitivity to women complaining of sexual assault by men.

Robbins Geller files new challenge to minimum-stake-to-sue bylaw

April 21, 2015

Remember Imperial Holdings, the Florida life insurance settlement company that last fall adopted a bylaw requiring shareholders to amass written consent from a minimum percentage of their fellow investors in order to sue the board? Imperial was apparently the first public corporation to impose a minimum-stake-to-sue restriction on shareholders’ right to sue, but as the company’s chairman, activist investor Phillip Goldstein, predicted at the time, other companies he controls have since adopted similar provisions. Goldstein has told me many times that the bylaws are not intended to block all shareholder suits but to weed out frivolous cases by investors (and plaintiffs’ lawyers) acting in their own interests rather than the interests of the company.

How heirs of alleged rare coin thief won gamble against U.S. Mint

April 20, 2015

(Reuters) – Way back in October 2005, I had lunch with an entertainment lawyer named Roy Langbord and Langbord’s own lawyer, Barry Berke of Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel, to talk about a cache of exceedingly rare gold $20 coins known as 1933 Double Eagles. 1933 Double Eagles were minted in the midst of President Roosevelt’s gold recall, and all of them were supposed to have been melted down. A handful of the coins nevertheless disappeared from the U.S. Mint, in a theft the federal government believed to have been masterminded by Langbord’s grandfather, a Philadelphia jeweler named Israel Switt.

Business group, econ profs urge SCOTUS to hear foreign antitrust case

April 17, 2015

Some members of the National Association of Manufacturers would like to see the U.S. Supreme Court reverse the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals’ opinion in Motorola v. AU Optronics, which limited the reach of U.S. antitrust laws over foreign transactions, even if the deals involved products eventually sold in the U.S. Other NAM members might like to see the 7th Circuit’s narrow interpretation prevail. But the entire U.S. manufacturing industry, according to an amicus brief NAM filed at the Supreme Court on Thursday, needs the justices to resolve the uncertainty created by a split between the 7th and 9th Circuit interpretations of how American antitrust laws apply to global supply chains.

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.