Thursday, November 8, 2012

This Week's SCOTUS Oral Arguments: Mootness, Class Actions, And FRCP 54(d) (Oh My!)

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Chief Justice Roberts Appoints New Chairs for Judicial Conference Committees

The U.S. Courts website has the announcement here. The new chairs are:

Judge Lawrence L. Piersol (D. S.D. ), succeeding Judge David A. Katz (N.D. Ohio) as chair of the Committee on Audits and Administrative Office Accountability;

Judge Catherine C. Blake (D. MD), succeeding Judge Claire V. Eagan (N.D. Okla.) as chair of the Committee on Defender Services;

Judge Joel A. Pisano (D. NJ), succeeding Judge George H. King (C.D. Cal.) as chair of the Committee on the Administration of the Magistrate Judges System;

Judge Jeffrey S. Sutton (6th Cir.), succeeding Judge Mark R. Kravitz (D. Conn.) as chair of the Committee on Rules of Practice and Procedure; and

Judge Steven M. Colloton (8th Cir.), succeeding Judge Jeffrey S. Sutton (6th Cir.) as chair of the Advisory Committee on Appellate Rules.


October 23, 2012 in Federal Courts, In the News | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, September 24, 2012

Kritzer and Drechsel on Local News Coverage of Civil Litigation

Herbert M. Kritzer and Robert E. Drechsel have posted on SSRN a paper entitled “Local News of Civil Litigation: All the Litigation News That's Fit to Print or Broadcast,” 96 Judicature, No. 1, pp. 16-22.


What is the nature of the coverage of civil litigation by local newspapers and local television? That is the question considered in this paper. Drawing upon news clips from 2004 (11 media markets around the U.S.), 2006 (9 media markets in the Midwest), and 2007 (9 media markets in the Midwest), we present a portrait of litigation as locally reported. We find (a) torts make up a minority of reports, (b) very few verdicts are reported, and (c) dollar figures are mentioned in a modest proportion of cases but when mentioned tend to be large. We also find significant differences in the reporting practices of local television and local newspapers, particularly with regard to the types of cases discussed (more torts on television and more cases against government in the newspapers). We conclude with some speculations about the implications of our analysis for debates over civil justice “reform.”


September 24, 2012 in Current Affairs, In the News, Recent Scholarship, State Courts | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Survey Finds 41% of Americans Doubt Fairness of Civil Justice System

In a survey last month of 1,020 randomly selected adults, DRI-The Voice of the Defense Bar, found that 41% of the respondents were not confident about the fairness of civil courts.  A majority of respondents also believed that class actions improved corporate responsibility (but also that plaintiffs' attorneys were unfairly enriched as a result).  Most would rather have a jury decide their civil case than a judge, while admitting that if called as a juror, they would probably have some bias.

The full survey is available here.   

Hat tip: Blog of the Legal Times.


September 20, 2012 in Class Actions, Current Affairs, In the News | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, September 7, 2012

Amicus Files Brief Explaining Antitrust Law in Cartoons to Meet Five-Page Limit

The ABA Journal reports that "a lawyer who opposes the Justice Department’s proposed antitrust settlement with three publishers of e-books has filed an amicus brief (PDF) in the form of a comic strip."

After U.S. District Judge Denise Cote of Manhattan limited his brief to five pages, lawyer Bob Kohn conceived of the “graphic novelette” and says it complies with court rules requiring 12-point or larger type and one-inch margins.  Although Publishers Weekly called the brief "brilliant," it apparently failed to persuade Judge Cote, who approved the settlement.



September 7, 2012 in Current Affairs, In the News | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Second Circuit Allows Appeal of Class Certification in Google Books Case

Last week the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit granted Google’s Rule 23(f) petition to appeal the district court’s order certifying the Google Books class action [Authors Guild v. Google, Inc., __ F. Supp. 2d __, 2012 WL 1951790 (S.D.N.Y. May 31, 2012)]. Here’s the full text of the Second Circuit’s order:

Petitioner, through counsel, moves, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(f), for leave to appeal the district court’s order granting Respondents’ motion for class certification. Upon due consideration, it is hereby ORDERED that the petition is GRANTED. See Sumitomo Copper Litig. v. Credit Lyonnais Rouse, Ltd., 262 F.3d 134, 139-40 (2d Cir. 2001).

The Second Circuit docket number is 12-2402.

Interestingly, Judge Denny Chin was an original member of the appellate panel that considered Google’s 23(f) petition (along with Judges Richard Wesley and Peter Hall). Because Judge Chin was the judge who granted class certification at the trial level, he recused himself.

More coverage available from Julie Bosman (NY Times) and Jonathan Stempel (Reuters).


August 23, 2012 in Class Actions, In the News, Recent Decisions | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Legislative Response to Wal-Mart v. Dukes: Coming Soon to a House or Senate Committee Near You?

According to this press release:

Tomorrow, Wednesday, June 20—the one year anniversary of the Supreme Court’s decision in Dukes v. Wal-Mart—Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) and Senator Al Franken (D-MN) will hold a press conference in the Capitol Visitors Center, Room SVC 212 at 2:15 pm, to announce that they are introducing legislation to restore the workers’ rights that were eroded by the Dukes decision. . . . The bill, called the Equal Employment Opportunity Restoration Act, would allow workers to hold employers accountable in cases of workplace discrimination by ensuring that employees can once again band together to challenge discriminatory employment practices.


June 19, 2012 in Class Actions, In the News, Supreme Court Cases | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Mullenix on Wal-Mart v. Dukes, One Year Later

Prof. Linda Mullenix (Texas) has a piece in the National Law Journal entitled A year after 'Wal-Mart,' class actions not dead yet. It begins:

As the first anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court's June 20, 2011, landmark class action decision in Wal-Mart Stores Inc. v. Dukes, 131 S. Ct. 2541, approaches, a smattering of federal district court decisions suggest that judges are carefully parsing that opinion and still certifying class actions. Although it is far too early to project any definitive assessments, some melodramatic pronouncements of the death of class litigation in Dukes' wake seem premature.


June 9, 2012 in Class Actions, In the News | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Class Action Certified in NYC Stop-and-Frisk Lawsuit

Today the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York granted class certification in a lawsuit challenging the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk program. The class is defined as “[a]ll persons who since January 31, 2005 have been, or in the future will be, subjected to the New York Police Department’s policies and/or widespread customs or practices of stopping, or stopping and frisking, persons in the absence of a reasonable, articulable suspicion that criminal activity has taken, is taking, or is about to take place in violation of the Fourth Amendment, including persons stopped or stopped and frisked on the basis of being Black or Latino in violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.”

Judge Shira Scheindlin’s 56-page opinion addresses several aspects of the Supreme Court’s recent decision in Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. Dukes, noting that “even after Wal-Mart, Rule 23(b)(2) suits remain appropriate mechanisms for obtaining injunctive relief in cases where a centralized policy is alleged to impact a large class of plaintiffs, even when the magnitude (and existence) of the impact may vary by class member” and that “[s]ince Wal-Mart, at least three district courts have granted class certification in cases alleging Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment violations due to a police department’s policy and/or practice of making unlawful stops and arrests; all of these courts have rejected the notion that the individual circumstances of a stop defeat commonality.” She also writes (footnotes omitted):

Plaintiffs allege that their Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights are violated as a result of the NYPD’s policies and practices. As they argue, these claims raise “central and core questions of fact and law that, when answered, will resolve all class members’ Monell claims against the City.” In the terminology of Wal-Mart, a class wide proceeding here will “generate common answers” to these questions that are “apt to drive the resolution of the litigation.”

For additional coverage, check out (Ailsa Chang).


May 16, 2012 in Class Actions, In the News, Recent Decisions | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, May 4, 2012

Preliminary Approval Granted for Deepwater Horizon Settlement

The story is reported by the National Law Journal here.  The link to the Oil Spill litigation web site, which contains additional links to the court's actual orders regarding the preliminary approval, is here.

Class members have until August 31 to object and until October 1 to opt out.  The final fairness hearing is set for November 8.


May 4, 2012 in Class Actions, Current Affairs, In the News, Mass Torts, MDLs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

New Consumer Bureau Asks for Input on Arbitrarion Clauses in Consumer Contracts

The National Law Journal reports that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, as authorized by the Dodd-Frank Act, is studying pre-dispute arbitration clauses in consumer contracts.  In connection with that, the Bureau has published a Request for Information Regarding Scope, Methods, and Data Sources for Confucting Study of Pre-dispute Arbitration Agreements.  Comments are due June 23, 2012.


April 25, 2012 in In the News | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, April 20, 2012

Supreme Court of Canada Issues Major Decisions on Personal Jurisdiction

On Wednesday, the Supreme Court of Canada issued a series of decisions on personal jurisdiction:

According the Vancouver Sun, the decisions "set national standards, bringing much-needed guidance to a very complex area of Canadian law." Reports of widespread jealousy in the United States have yet to be confirmed. Cf., e.g., J. McIntyre Machinery, Ltd. v. Nicastro, 131 S. Ct. 2780 (2011); Asahi Metal Industry Co. v. Superior Court, 480 U.S. 102 (1987).


(Hat Tip: Linda Silberman)

April 20, 2012 in In the News, International/Comparative Law, Recent Decisions | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, March 16, 2012

House Republicans Link Bipartisan “IPAB Repeal” Bill with Partisan “Tort Reform” Bill

You can never be too rich or too thin, and apparently you can never get enough “tort reform,” either.
And if you keep repeating over and over that damages caps lower malpractice premiums, maybe it will someday be true despite all empirical evidence to the contrary.

A bill to repeal a portion of “Obamacare” dealing with the Independent Payment Advisory Board (H.R. 452) had bipartisan support until House Republicans linked it with the Orwellian “Help Efficient, Accessible, Low-cost, Timely Healthcare (HEALTH) Act of 2011” (H.R. 5). The resulting bill, ( now called the “Protecting Access to Healthcare Act,” provides in its findings:

that our current civil justice system is adversely affecting patient access to
health care services, better patient care, and cost-efficient health care, in
that the health care liability system is a costly and ineffective mechanism for
resolving claims of health care liability and compensating injured patients,
and is a deterrent to the sharing of information among health care
professionals which impedes efforts to improve patient safety and quality of

(2) EFFECT ON INTERSTATE COMMERCE.—Congress finds that the
health care and insurance industries are industries affecting interstate
commerce and the health care liability litigation systems existing throughout
the United States are activities that affect interstate commerce by
contributing to the high costs of health care and premiums for health care
liability insurance purchased by health care system providers.

Same old rhetoric, same old provisions -- $250,000 cap on noneconomic damages, 3-year-statute of limitations, elimination of joint and several liability, court review and serious reduction of plaintiff’s attorneys’ contingent fees, and limitations on punitive damages (including the prohibition of pleading such damages initially).

Politico ( reports that the IPAB bill was expected to go to the floor of the House for a vote later this month, but now “[i]It’s unclear exactly how Republicans plan to move the two bills, but both should clear the House relatively easily.”


March 16, 2012 in Current Affairs, In the News | Permalink | Comments (1)

Saturday, March 3, 2012

BP Oil Spill Settlement

A settlement has been reached in the Gulf Oil Spill Litigation, which was set to begin trial in Louisiana federal court on Monday. Story from the New Orleans Times-Picayune here.


March 3, 2012 in In the News, Mass Torts, MDLs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

More Kiobel Coverage

Lots of coverage on Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum, which is being argued today:

One issue that isn’t squarely raised by the questions presented is whether the Alien Tort Statute applies to claims brought by one alien against another (as in Kiobel). Amanda Frost’s Academic Round-up for SCOTUSblog covers an essay by Anthony Bellia and Bradford Clark, which argues that the Alien Tort Statute applies only to claims brought by an alien against a U.S. citizen. Marco Simons has a response on Concurring Opinions.


February 28, 2012 in In the News, Recent Scholarship, Subject Matter Jurisdiction, Supreme Court Cases, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, February 27, 2012

Preview of Tomorrow's Oral Arguments in Kiobel & Mohamad

Now available from the ABA is a preview by Prof. Jonathan Hafetz (Seton Hall) of Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum and Mohamad v. Palestinian Authority. At issue in these cases (as covered earlier here) is whether corporations, organizations, and other defendants that are not natural persons may be sued under either the Alien Tort Statute or the Torture Victim Protection Act. They will be argued in tandem tomorrow.


February 27, 2012 in In the News, Supreme Court Cases | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, February 26, 2012

BP Oil Spill Trial Delayed

The first phase of the trial was supposed to begin tomorrow before Judge Carl Barbier of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana. It's been delayed until March 5. Story by Rebecca Mowbray of the Times-Picayune here.


February 26, 2012 in Current Affairs, In the News, Mass Torts | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, January 7, 2012

AALS Approves Four New Member Schools

The Association of American Law Schools has approved as new members Drexel University Earl Mack School of Law, North Carolina Central University School of Law, Texas Wesleyan University School of Law, and University of St. Thomas School of Law (Minneapolis).

The story is in the National Law Journal here.


January 7, 2012 in Current Affairs, In the News | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Whales as Plaintiffs?

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) is reportedly filing a lawsuit today in federal district court in San Diego against SeaWorld, seeking a declaration that the five killer whales that perform at SeaWorld's San Diego and Orlando parks are being held as slaves in violation of the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. 

The five plaintiffs are anticipated to be Corky, Kasatka, Ulises, Tilikum, and Katina.

For further details see the story at here.


October 26, 2011 in In the News | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, October 17, 2011

Two SCOTUS Cert Grants of Interest

Today, the Supreme Court granted cert in two cases that should be of interest to civ pro and fed courts profs.

Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum, No. 10-1491, to be argued with Mohammad v. Rajoub, No. 11-88. In the ruling below in Kiobel, residents of Nigeria brought claims under the Alien Tort Statute against corporations (as opposed to individuals within those corporations) that allegedly aided and abetted the Nigerian government in committing human rights abuses directed at the plaintiffs, and the appeals court held their claims fell outside the limited jurisdiction provided by the Alien Tort Statute and had to be dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. In Mohammed, the court below held that only a natural person is amenable to suit under the Torture Victim Protection Act, and the sons and widow of a decedent allegedly tortured and killed by the Palestinian Authority and the Palestine Liberation Organization could not sue the PA and the PLO under the TVPA. The petitions for review asked whether the issue of corporate civil tort liability under the Alien Tort Statute is a merits question or an issue of subject matter jurisdiction, and whether corporations are immune from tort liability for violations of the law of nations such as torture, extrajudicial executions, or genocide.

SCOTUSblog info is here.

Elgin v. Dept. of Treasury, No. 11-45. Do federal district courts have jurisdiction over constitutional claims for equitable relief brought by federal employees, or does the Civil Service Reform Act impliedly preclude that jurisdiction?

SCOTUSblog info is here.



October 17, 2011 in In the News, Supreme Court Cases | Permalink | Comments (0)