Litigation Update

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Litigation UpdateJun 10, 2019 - 5:30pm

Supreme Court unanimously agrees with U.S. Chamber that state wage-and-hour laws don’t apply to drilling rigs on the outer continental shelf

In Parker Drilling Management Services, Inc. v. Newton, the Supreme Court unanimously reversed the Ninth Circuit’s determination that California’s wage-and-hour laws applied to offshore oil-and-gas drilling on the outer continental shelf.  

Litigation UpdateJun 10, 2019 - 3:45pm

Supreme Court holds that the federal government can’t file administrative review petitions challenging patents

In Return Mail, Inc. v. U.S. Postal Service, in a 6-3 opinion written by Justice Sotomayor, the Supreme Court held that the federal government is not a “person” able to challenge the validity of a patent under the American Invents Act (AIA). 

Litigation UpdateJun 10, 2019 - 8:45am

Supreme Court grants cert. petition concerning the causation standard for proving racial discrimination under 42 USC 1981

In Comcast Corp. v. National Association of African-American Owned Media, the Supreme Court granted review to determine whether a claim of racial discrimination may proceed even if racial animus was not the but-for cause of a defendant’s action, so long as a plaintiff can still demonstrate that discriminatory intent was a factor in that action.

Litigation UpdateJun 10, 2019 - 8:30am

Supreme Court grants cert. petition concerning federal preemption of state environmental remedies under CERCLA

In Atlantic Richfield Co. v. Christian, the Supreme Court will determine whether the Comprehensive Environmental, Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (also known as Superfund) preempts state law claims for additional cleanup on remediated sites. 

Litigation UpdateMay 20, 2019 - 11:15am

U.S. Supreme Court holds that judges, rather than juries, must decide whether federal prescription-drug regulations preempt state failure-to-warn claims

Today the Supreme Court issued a favorable unanimous decision in Merck Sharp & Dohme Corp. v. Albrecht, holding that judges, rather than juries, must decide whether federal prescription-drug regulations preempt state failure-to-warn claims. 

Litigation UpdateApr 24, 2019 - 2:00pm

U.S. Supreme Court limits the ability of the plaintiffs’ bar to import class action litigation into arbitration

The Supreme Court issued a decision in Lamps Plus, Inc. v. Varela, limiting the ability of the plaintiffs’ bar to use ambiguous language in a contract to argue for class arbitration—that is, to bring a class action in arbitration, rather than in a court.  This outcome limits the ability of the plaintiffs’ bar to import class action litigation into arbitration. 

Litigation UpdateMar 20, 2019 - 4:30pm

Unanimous Supreme Court holds that enforcing a security interest without also seeking repayment of a debt generally does not qualify as “debt collection” within the FDCPA’s meaning

In Obduskey v. McCarthy & Holthus LLP, the defendant law firm was hired to carry out a nonjudicial foreclosure on the plaintiff’s home.  The firm accordingly sent the plaintiff correspondence regarding the foreclosure.  The plaintiff disputed the amount of his debt.  He sued, arguing that the firm’s foreclosure correspondence violated the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA).  The Tenth Circuit affirmed dismissal of the case because the law firm did not qualify as a “debt collector” covered by the FDCPA. 

Litigation UpdateMar 20, 2019 - 3:30pm

U.S. Supreme Court vacates Ninth Circuit’s decision and sends case back to Ninth Circuit for reconsideration of Article III standing issues

In Frank v. Gaos, the plaintiffs filed a class action lawsuit in federal court against Google for allegedly misusing their personal information; the purported class contained millions of Gmail users.  The parties settled.  Because each member of the class suffered miniscule (if any) damages, however, rather than track down and pay the millions of plaintiffs directly, Google agreed to donate more than $5 million to several consumer organizations whose work would arguably benefit class members indirectly.  The district court and then the Ninth Circuit approved the settlement over objections. 

Litigation UpdateMar 20, 2019 - 3:00pm

Blog post: So the government no longer believes in Auer deference?

When even the government does not think it deserves deference, it’s safe to say the government does not deserve deference.  And when the government angles for a split decision only by tying itself in legal knots – relying on stare decisis at the same time it encourages the Supreme Court to overrule precedent – it’s safe to say something odd is going on.  After all, stare decisis is Latin for “to stand by things decided,” not “to stand by some of the things decided while jettisoning others.”  Latin’s a dead language, but it hasn’t decomposed that badly.  To me, the takeaway is that the government knows that Auer deference stands on shaky legal ground and is doing what it can to preserve what it can.  That’s perfectly understandable, and advocating a partial overruling may have some policy appeal to some people.  But it does not make the legal ground under Auer any firmer.

Litigation UpdateJan 07, 2019 - 10:00am

U.S. Supreme Court issues unanimous arbitration decision, reaffirming that courts must enforce arbitration contracts according to their terms and thus cannot create unwritten exceptions to the Federal Arbitration Act

The U.S. Supreme Court issued a unanimous opinion in Henry Schein, Inc. v. Archer & White Sales, Inc., reaffirming that courts must enforce arbitration contracts according to their terms and thus cannot create unwritten exceptions to the Federal Arbitration Act.  The decision rejects the “wholly groundless” exception to enforcement of an arbitration agreement, finding it inconsistent with the terms of the Federal Arbitration Act.