Is D.C. Circuit’s Data-Breach Standing Decision a Tipping Point for High Court Review?

cohen-david-tGuest Commentary by David T. Cohen, Counsel at Ropes & Gray LLP in its New York, NY office.

Article III of the U.S. Constitution requires all private litigants in federal court to establish “standing,” that is, to show that they are proper litigants to raise the defendant’s alleged legal violations with the court. To have standing, a plaintiff must face an actual or sufficiently imminent future injury from the legal violation.  Several recent federal appellate decisions have grappled with the issue of when, if ever, a plaintiff whose personal information was compromised in a data breach—but who has suffered no actual harm from that compromise—faces a sufficiently imminent future harm to have Article III standing.

One such recent case stands out from the pack, both because it hails from the particularly prominent U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, and because it is the subject of a forthcoming petition for a writ of certiorari, setting the stage for what could become the first-ever ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court on the issue in a data breach matter. Continue reading “Is D.C. Circuit’s Data-Breach Standing Decision a Tipping Point for High Court Review?”

WLF Webinar, October 11, 1:00 PM: Winning Personal Jurisdiction and Venue Battles

Personal Jurisdiction and Venue Disputes: Succeeding in a Changed Legal Environment
Wednesday, October 11, 2017, 1:00-2:00 pm EST

To view live on WLF’s Ustream channel, click here.

Featuring:

Description: Previously relegated to law-school classroom debate, personal jurisdiction and venue are now front-of-mind issues for civil litigators. Our speakers will address how lower courts, and the plaintiffs’ bar, have responded to the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent rebukes of forum shopping. They will also identify the open questions and possible loopholes in the new jurisprudence, and discuss strategic responses on how to obtain and keep a “home court” advantage.

Federal Preemption Ruling Flushes Another Eye-Drop Class Action

eyedropAnyone who’s ever used eye drops has experienced solution overflow. You tilt your head back, pry your eye open, hold the dispenser close to your eyeball, and even though you squeeze very gently, some of the liquid flows onto your cheek. What is your logical next move? Is it to grab a tissue and dab up the excess, or reach for the phone and call your lawyer? As readers of the WLF Legal Pulse learned from a March 31, 2017 post, some overflow sufferers have actually done the latter.

That March 31 commentary recounted the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit’s dismissal of a class action against nine eye-drop makers alleging that consumers suffered economic harm from a needlessly oversized drop of medicine. A decision in another eye-drop-overflow suit filed in Massachusetts, Gustavesen v. Alcon Laboratories, et. al, recently came to our attention (HT to our friends at the indispensable FDA Law Blog).

The outcome of this suit was the same as the Eike v. Allergan, Inc. in the Seventh Circuit—class dismissed. Unlike Judge Posner’s typically curt, fanciful opinion in Eike, which tossed out the claims for lack of constitutional standing, District of Massachusetts Judge Mark Wolf found that federal regulation of the prescription eye drops preempted the state-law fraud claims. Judge Wolf’s thorough analysis is worth a careful read. Continue reading “Federal Preemption Ruling Flushes Another Eye-Drop Class Action”

The Latest on ALI’s Liability Insurance Restatement: Same as it Ever Was

scales of justiceWhen last we addressed the American Law Institute’s (ALI) proposed Restatement, Law of Liability Insurance, we reported that the organization decided at its May annual meeting to table final consideration of the document until 2018. One of the proposal’s chief Reporters, Professor Tom Baker, indicated that he and co-Reporter Kyle Logue would embark on a year-long listening tour and consider what they heard when looking anew at the Restatement draft.

It is quite curious then, considering Professor Baker’s statement as well as ALI’s declaration that the draft needed “another year of work,” that on August 4, the institute released Preliminary Draft No. 4—a mere 10 weeks after tabling Draft No. 3 at its meeting.  Even more remarkable are the fundamental similarities between the draft tabled on May 23 and the one released on August 4.

ALI’s haste in issuing another draft, and the Reporters’ obstinate refusal to address valid criticisms of Draft No. 3, are further evidence of an accelerating mission drift that could cause the legal community to lose respect for organization’s work. Continue reading “The Latest on ALI’s Liability Insurance Restatement: Same as it Ever Was”

Drunk Suing, Another Round: Court Allows False-Labeling Claim on “Hawaiian Beer” to Proceed

indexWe have been covering a legal action against Kona Brewing Company (now renamed Broomfield v. Craft Brew Alliance), which is one suit in the larger trend of class actions against breweries alleging misleading or false labeling and advertising.  In that suit, Judge Beth Labson Freeman, who sits on the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California (a.k.a. the “Food Court”), recently ruled on Kona’s motion to dismiss.

Though the court trimmed the complaint, dismissing several of the plaintiffs’ causes-of-action and requests for relief, it held that the crux of the allegations could proceed.  The result is that, through strategic pleading, Kona must spend its time and resources fighting a lawsuit with questionable merits.  Judge Freeman created perverse incentives for future litigants by choosing to become, in essence, a product-packaging regulator. Continue reading “Drunk Suing, Another Round: Court Allows False-Labeling Claim on “Hawaiian Beer” to Proceed”

No “Daubert”-Style Gatekeeping in Alabama for Expert Testimony Based on Technical or Specialized Knowledge

Featured Expert Contributor, Judicial Gatekeeping of Expert Evidence

By Tager_09181Evan M. Tager, a Partner in the Washington, DC office of Mayer Brown LLP, with Carl J. Summers, an Associate with Mayer Brown LLP.

In federal courts, Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc. applies not only to scientific testimony but also to technical and other specialized knowledge. That principle stems from the text of Federal Rule of Evidence 702(a)—which expressly references an “expert’s scientific, technical, or other specialized knowledge”—and the US Supreme Court’s holding in Kumho Tire v. Carmichael, which extended Daubert’s gatekeeping responsibilities to technical and specialized knowledge. Put simply, Daubert provides a generally applicable rule for how federal judges should ascertain the reliability of expert testimony.

The same is not true in Alabama. In 2011, the Alabama Legislature adopted the Daubert standard and modified Alabama Rule of Evidence 702 to provide: Continue reading “No “Daubert”-Style Gatekeeping in Alabama for Expert Testimony Based on Technical or Specialized Knowledge”

Court Ruling in Pharma Case Calls into Question Consumer Expectations Test’s Use in Asbestos Suits

Featured Expert Contributor, Mass Torts—Asbestos

RobertWright

Robert H. Wright, a Partner with Horvitz & Levy LLP in Los Angeles, CA

A recent appellate decision rejecting the consumer expectations test for strict liability in a pharmaceutical case calls into question the use of that same test in cases involving low-dose exposures to asbestos.  Trejo v. Johnson & Johnson, 13 Cal. App. 5th 110, 117 (2017), petition for review filed, (Aug. 8, 2017) (No. S243672).

Much like in pharmaceutical cases, the trials in low-dose asbestos cases invariably center on competing expert-opinion testimony regarding scientific matters beyond the everyday experience of ordinary consumers.  As a result, such cases should proceed not under a consumer expectations theory, but instead under the alternative risk-benefit theory, which is recognized in many states and has long been applied to hold that a product is defectively designed if “‘the benefits of the challenged design outweigh the risk of danger inherent in such design.’”  Tabieros v. Clark Equipment Co., 944 P.2d 1279, 1310 (Haw. 1997), quoting Barker v. Lull Engineering Co., 20 Cal. 3d 413, 455-56 (1978); see, e.g., Lamkin v. Towner, 563 N.E.2d 449, 457 (1990) (applying Barker). Continue reading “Court Ruling in Pharma Case Calls into Question Consumer Expectations Test’s Use in Asbestos Suits”