California Supreme Court Expands Scope of Discovery in Representative Actions under Private Attorneys General Act

JohnQuieroLE - resized [45] 170504_0034_1a_square2Guest Commentary

By John F. Querio, a Partner, and Lacey L. Estudillo, an Appellate Fellow, with Horvitz & Levy LLP.

On July 13, 2017, the California Supreme Court decided Williams v. Superior Court, which expanded a plaintiff’s discovery rights in actions brought pursuant to California’s Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA).  PAGA permits an employee to bring a representative action “‘on behalf of himself or herself and other current or former employees’ to recover civil penalties” for wage-related violations of California’s Labor Code—penalties that were previously recoverable solely by the state’s labor-law enforcement agencies.  Amalgamated Transit Union, Local 1756 v. Superior Court, 46 Cal. 4th 993, 1003 (2009). Continue reading “California Supreme Court Expands Scope of Discovery in Representative Actions under Private Attorneys General Act”

Florida Supreme Court, Casting Separation of Powers Aside, Invalidates Medical Malpractice Damages Limits

Andy-Bolin-Color-HiRes-420x280Guest Commentary

By Andrew S. Bolin, Beytin, McLaughlin, McLaughlin, O’Hara, Bocchino & Bolin, P.A.

In 2003, the Florida Legislature undertook the arduous task of examining the impact of medical malpractice lawsuits in the State of Florida. Governor Jeb Bush appointed a Select Task Force on Healthcare Professional Liability Insurance that consisted of a distinguished group of non-partisan scholars and public servants, including the former Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services under President Clinton. Over one regular and four special sessions, Florida’s Legislature reviewed over 1,600 sworn affidavits from medical providers, heard hundreds of hours of testimony during public hearings, and analyzed empirical evidence provided by those studying the issues.

The results of this rigorous undertaking were shocking. Four-hundred Broward County physicians cited the soaring costs of medical malpractice insurance as a reason they left the state or retired early. The task force pointed to examples of obstetrical centers closing due to increased premiums and residency graduates being forced to practice outside of Florida because they were unable to obtain or afford malpractice insurance. In 2003, 80% percent of obstetricians in Miami stated that they had been forced to practice without the protection of malpractice insurance. Ten percent of OB/GYNs in Orlando chose to leave the practice. Continue reading “Florida Supreme Court, Casting Separation of Powers Aside, Invalidates Medical Malpractice Damages Limits”

Class Actions Clothed in Righteousness: Appeals Court Rejects Bargain-Hunters’ Suits for Lack of Injury

nordstrom rackBy Abbey Coufal, a 2017 Judge K.K. Legett Fellow at Washington Legal Foundation who will be entering her third year at Texas Tech University School of Law in the fall.

Bargain shopping is not for the weary, but there is something thrilling about combing through items on tightly-packed circular racks, with the hope of hunting down the desired piece of clothing at a good price. Landing the perfect deal usually brings a feeling of satisfaction, and does not give rise to conflict with the retailer. But in America, even a bargain-finder who bought an unblemished sweater can turn around and sue the business on behalf of herself and countless other shoppers, claiming they were all fooled into making their purchases. Continue reading “Class Actions Clothed in Righteousness: Appeals Court Rejects Bargain-Hunters’ Suits for Lack of Injury”

FTC Takes a Commendable First Step Toward Reducing the Burden of Consumer-Protection Investigations

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Antitrust & Competition Policy — Federal Trade Commission

06633 - Royall, M. Sean ( Dallas )By M. Sean Royall, a Partner with Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP, with Richard H. Cunningham, Of Counsel in the firm’s Denver, CO office, and Ashley M. Rogers, an Associate Attorney in the firm’s Dallas, TX office.

On July 17, 2017, Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Acting Chairman Maureen K. Ohlhausen announced internal process reforms that aim to “streamline information requests and improve transparency” in the agency’s consumer-protection investigations.  According to the announcement, going forward the Bureau of Consumer Protection will:

  • provide “plain language” descriptions of the civil investigative demand (CID) process the agency uses as its primary tool for gathering information during investigations on a compulsory basis;
  • provide “more detailed” descriptions of the scope and purpose of investigations;
  • limit the relevant time periods covered by CID informational requests;
  • “significantly” reduce the length and complexity of CID instructions for providing electronically stored data; and
  • increase the time available to respondents to respond to agency CIDs.

Continue reading “FTC Takes a Commendable First Step Toward Reducing the Burden of Consumer-Protection Investigations”

Eastern District of Texas Refuses to Accept Supreme Court’s Patent-Venue Ruling

hydraBy Ryley Bennett, a 2017 Judge K.K. Legett Fellow at Washington Legal Foundation who will be entering her third year at Texas Tech University School of Law in the fall.

The US District Court for the Eastern District of Texas (EDTX) is known as one of the federal judiciary’s most patent-plaintiff-friendly districts. With TC Heartland LLC v. Kraft Food Groups Brand LLC, 137 S. Ct. 1514 (2017), the US Supreme Court recently cut off one avenue for filing patent-infringement claims there. It ruled in that patent-infringement lawsuits may be brought only in the infringer’s home state or else in a federal district where it maintains a regular place of business. But like the resilient, mythical Hydra, when one head is cut off, more grow back. In a recent decision, Eastern District of Texas Judge Rodney Gilstrap developed a broadly-sweeping four-factor “totality” test seemingly aimed at keeping patent-infringement suits in his jurisdiction. Continue reading “Eastern District of Texas Refuses to Accept Supreme Court’s Patent-Venue Ruling”

US-Based Tech Companies Subject to Worldwide Jurisdiction as Judicial Comity Takes a Back Seat

Guest Commentary

moinBy Moin A. Yahya, Vice Dean and Professor of Law at the University of Alberta’s Faculty of Law.

The Supreme Court of Canada’s (SCC) recent decision in Google Inc. v. Equustek Solutions Inc. is the latest in non-American courts asserting their jurisdiction over American companies’ global operations using the pretext of the Internet.  The case arose as a dispute between two companies—one a manufacturer of networking devices and the other its distributor.  The distributor was accused of passing off its own competing products as the manufacturer’s, which led the manufacturer to sue the distributor.  It obtained an order requiring the distributor to cease distributing the manufacturer’s products.  The distributor did not comply, left Canada, and did not appear in subsequent proceedings.  The distributor, however, continued to advertise itself as a seller of the manufacturer’s products on several non-Canadian websites.  Continue reading “US-Based Tech Companies Subject to Worldwide Jurisdiction as Judicial Comity Takes a Back Seat”

WLF Caps off Legal-Studies Series on Commercial Speech with Prof. Martin Redish Interview

CW Summer 2017On July 28, 2017, Washington Legal Foundation published an interview in which Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law Professor Martin H. Redish answered questions on the evolution of commercial-speech protection. This Conversations Withpaper provides a fitting culmination to the series of WLF publications on commercial speech produced in the last six months.

Over the past 46 years, beginning with a 1971 law review article drafted as a Harvard Law School student, Professor Redish’s scholarship has deeply influenced the US Supreme Court’s development of the so-called commercial-speech doctrine. In the Conversations With paper, he discusses the impetus for that article, as well as the High Court’s growing respect for commercial speech.

The WLF publications were meant to provide policy makers at the state and federal levels with a basic understanding of commercial speech and the First Amendment scrutiny courts apply when reviewing restrictions on such speech. The publications, with links to each, are listed below: