Alison Frankel

How will 2nd Circuit’s rejection of verdict against PLO affect anti-terror suits?

September 1, 2016

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals more or less said Wednesday that the federal law granting terrorism victims the right to bring private litigation against alleged attack sponsors cannot be applied against the Palestinian Authority and the Palestine Liberation Organization.

Client solicitation 101: Don’t robocall the guy running the mass tort

August 30, 2016

The blessing and curse of automated dialing is that robocallers operate without human assistance. That’s great if the goal of the call is, say, to tell parents of schoolkids about a snow day. But a new class action in federal court in Ft. Worth, Texas, suggests that robocalls just might not be the best way to drum up clients in mass tort litigation.

Bankruptcy strikes corporate sister of controversial mass torts case generator

August 29, 2016

(Reuters) – A Florida corporation called Excelium Management petitioned for Chapter 11 bankruptcy last week in federal bankruptcy court in Miami. The filing comes as one of Excelium’s corporate relatives is fighting to stave off accusations of improper conduct in the sprawling litigation accusing makers of transvaginal pelvic mesh of injuries to women implanted with the device.

Beneath Louis Vuitton’s inability to take a joke, a serious First Amendment question

August 26, 2016

(Reuters) – To just about everyone but Louis Vuitton, the joke is obvious. Inexpensive canvas totes decorated with cartoon versions of famously expensive, iconic designer handbags? That’s funny – especially because the name of the company that makes the totes is My Other Bag, a play on the “My other car is a ” bumper stickers people used to paste on beat-up cars. To highlight the humor, the company name appears in large, loopy script on the other side of the tote bags. No one with even the faintest sense of irony would confuse My Other Bag’s $35 tote bags with actual Louis Vuitton (or Chanel, Hermes or Fendi) pocketbooks.

Is court deference to federal agencies unconstitutional? 10th Circuit judge thinks so.

August 24, 2016

(Reuters) – The first thing I want to tell you about a concurrence by Judge Neil Gorsuch of the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Gutierrez-Brizuela v. Loretta Lynch is to read it yourself. Rarely will you run across such an elegant legal essay, closely argued and packed with citations yet as accessible as good journalism. If the whole judging thing doesn’t work out for Gorsuch, who is often named as a potential U.S. Supreme Court pick in a Republican administration, he has a real future as a law blogger.

Employer alert: Your arbitration clause is going to be tested at SCOTUS

August 23, 2016

(Reuters) – Something dramatic has happened in the world of employment law this summer, and sooner than later, it’s going to require the attention of the U.S. Supreme Court.

Litigation funder accused of lying to investors fires back at SEC

August 22, 2016

(Reuters) – Roni Dersovitz is a onetime personal injury lawyer who transformed himself into a financier deploying $170 million in capital to litigation funding. Last month, after a year-long investigation, the Securities and Exchange Commission brought an administrative proceeding against Dersovitz, accusing the New Jersey fund manager of deceiving investors about his outsized bet on a default judgment against Iran. On Monday, Dersovitz and his lawyers at Hughes Hubbard & Reed struck back at the agency with a complaint in federal court in Newark. Dersovitz’s suit asks for an injunction against the SEC’s case, arguing (among other things) that new rules the agency adopted last month exacerbate the due process deficiencies of administrative proceedings.

How unique California law rescued Uber class action – then killed $100 million settlement

August 19, 2016

(Reuters) – There is one big reason why Uber drivers have been able to pursue class actions against the company in federal court in California: the state’s one-of-a-kind Private Attorney General Act, which allows employees to sue for labor code violation in the name of the state. As a matter of public policy, according to a 2014 decision from the California Supreme Court, companies cannot compel PAGA claims to be arbitrated. So even though Uber’s contracts with drivers include provisions requiring them to arbitrate disputes with the company individually, U.S. District Judge Edward Chen of San Francisco has held Uber’s class action waivers to be unenforceable because of drivers’ PAGA rights.

‘Professional’ robocall plaintiffs and the ‘zone of interest’ defense

August 18, 2016

(Reuters) – I never cease to be amazed at how creatively people use the law to make money. Consider the example of Melody Stoops, a Pennsylvania resident who bought dozens of prepaid cellphones she kept in a shoebox. Stoops activated the phones to be assigned telephone numbers in Florida area codes hard hit by the economic downturn, then waited for credit card companies and debt collectors to call. When her phones received unsolicited calls – basically, the only calls they received since Stoops never gave her numbers to anyone she wanted to hear from – Stoops would log callers’ information.

Criminal defense bar sides with business lobby in False Claims Act case at SCOTUS

August 17, 2016

(Reuters) – It’s easy to understand why groups such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the American Tort Reform Association and the Coalition for Government Procurement are siding with State Farm in one of the most colorful business cases the U.S. Supreme Court will hear in its upcoming term. But the organized criminal defense bar?