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Alison Frankel

Business groups urge Supreme Court to wade into ADA website litigation fray

16 Jul 2019

Pro-business and right-leaning public interest groups don’t exactly agree on who should set standards for how accessible websites and mobile apps must be to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act. The Cato Institute pins blame on the Justice Department for failing to write regulations to guide businesses on website accessibility. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Federation of Independent Business have also criticized DOJ for taking “inconsistent, nonbinding and unaccountable” positions across 20 years of litigation over website accessibility. But the Washington Legal Foundation, which advocates for free enterprise, contends that only Congress can decide how much accommodation internet businesses must provide to disabled customers, since the 30-year-old ADA simply doesn’t address websites and mobile apps.

9th Circuit seems poised to require arbitrators to disclose ownership interest in JAMS

15 Jul 2019

At oral arguments Friday in City Beverages v. Monster Energy, two judges of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals seemed to favor adopting a rule that would require purportedly neutral arbitrators in the for-profit JAMS arbitration service to inform both sides if they have an ownership interest in JAMS. Judges Milan Smith and Michael Simon appeared to agree with City Beverages – a beverage distributor appealing a JAMS arbitration ruling in Monster’s favor – that City Beverages had a right to know that the arbitrator in its case has an equity interest in JAMS, and that JAMS, in turn, has heard nearly 100 Monster arbitrations in the last five years.

Manhattan federal judges are getting fed up with notorious copyright ‘troll’

11 Jul 2019

Richard Liebowitz of the Liebowitz Law Firm was admitted to the New York bar in August 2015. Since then, he has filed 1,210 copyright suits in New York’s federal trial courts on behalf of photographers and other copyright holders. Liebowitz has appeared so often in Manhattan federal court in the last three years that last October, U.S. District Judge Denise Cote dedicated an entire opinion (2018 WL 5312903) to the question of whether he could fairly be dubbed a copyright troll. Judge Cote concluded that he could, noting that of the more than 700 cases Liebowitz had by then filed in Manhattan federal court, more than 500 were resolved without any substantive litigation.

A $3 million fee award in Delaware after Trulia? It’s possible!

10 Jul 2019

Remember when Delaware Chancery Court judges routinely handed out six-figure fee awards to shareholder lawyers whose contributions to the development of corporate law consisted of forcing companies engaged in M&A transactions to add a few disclosures to their proxy filings? As Vice-Chancellor Travis Laster wrote in 2011’s In re Sauer-Danfoss (65 A.3d 1116), Delaware judges often awarded $400,000 or $500,000 – and sometimes much more – in disclosure only settlements.

6th Circuit: Ohio can’t bar lawyers from advertising to workers' comp claimants

09 Jul 2019

In 2006, Ohio amended its workers' compensation law to block the public release of the names and addresses of workers claiming on-the-job-injuries. The change in the law posed a problem for the plaintiffs firm Bevan & Associates. Before 2006, as the firm recounted in a brief to the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, Bevan would submit public records requests to the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation to obtain claimants’ contact information and would then send direct mail solicitations and advertisements to those claimants, urging them to hire the firm. After 2006, Bevan could not get the names and addresses of potential workers' comp clients directly from the state.

Pharma defendants invoke SCOTUS in bid to keep prescription data secret

08 Jul 2019

Faced with a ruling (2019 WL 2529050) from the 6th U.S. Court of Appeals that could publicly expose crucial data about where prescription opioids were sold, pharmaceutical defendants in the nationwide opioids litigation are counting on a decision last month by the U.S. Supreme Court to keep the information under seal.

Judge seals ex-clients’ fraud complaint against co-lead counsel in pelvic mesh case

02 Jul 2019

The Houston plaintiffs firm Clark, Love & Hutson does not want you to read this 37-page class action complaint by four disgruntled clients who claim the firm botched their personal injury claims against pelvic mesh makers by failing to file suits before the statute of limitations ran out. All of the women received settlements, but they allege that if it were not for Clark Love’s mishandling of the claims and failure to admit its mistakes, they would have been in line for much bigger payouts. Their lawyers at the Beggs Landers Law Firm are demanding the return of the 40% contingency fees the women paid to Clark Love, as well as unspecified additional damages.

The 9th Circuit just blew up mandatory arbitration in consumer cases

01 Jul 2019

In a trio of rulings on Friday, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals blessed a tactic that will allow plaintiffs lawyers litigating California consumer class actions to defeat defense motions to compel arbitration. If appellate rulings in the three cases - Blair v. Rent-A-Center, Tillage v. Comcast and McArdle v. AT&T Mobility - hold up, they represent a dramatic twist in corporations’ long-running, and mostly successful, campaign to force employees and consumers to arbitrate their claims individually instead of banding together in class actions.

Supreme Court in census opinion: Courts are not a rubber stamp for executive branch

27 Jun 2019

Five justices of the U.S. Supreme Court ruled Thursday in Department of Commerce v. New York (2019 WL 2619473), that they could not swallow the Trump administration’s stated rationale for adding a question about respondents’ citizenship to the 2020 census form. In an opinion written by Chief Justice John Roberts, the majority blocked the administration from including the citizenship question on forms slated to be printed in the next several weeks – and established that courts have the power, in rare circumstances, to scrutinize the motives of the executive branch.

State AGs pose big obstacle for novel opioids negotiating class proposal

26 Jun 2019

Bold innovations often require a bit of tinkering. So it shouldn’t be much of a surprise that the incredibly creative idea of certifying a class of all of the 24,500 local governments in the country to negotiate a global settlement with opioid defendants is going to take a little more time to design.

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