There will not be a nationwide, multi-insurer proceeding to determine whether businesses that shut down in response to COVID-19 are entitled to tens or even hundreds of billions of dollars in insurance coverage.
I’ve talked over the years to a lot of plaintiffs who have turned to consumer litigation funders as their cases dragged on. None of them has ever done so except as a last resort. Litigation funders who provide capital to consumers charge higher interest rates than banks and most credit-card companies. They can do so, as you know, because their cash advances are non-recourse, which means plaintiffs don’t have to pay the money back unless they win their case, so the advances are generally exempt from state usury laws. That’s the policy justification, after all, for litigation funding: Funders deserve hefty returns on the money they advance to plaintiffs who end up winning because funders bear the risk of recovering nothing from plaintiffs who lose.
Can judges presiding over multidistrict litigation in federal court require plaintiffs' lawyers to surrender a portion of their fees to a common benefit fund when they settle state-court cases - or even cases that haven’t been formally filed?
Deepak Gupta of Gupta Wessler has been battling the U.S. court system since 2016 over the fees it charges for public access to electronic court filings. A ruling Thursday from the Federal U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in his case, National Veterans Legal Service Program v. U.S., might seem to be a mixed result. The appeals court rejected Gupta’s argument that the court system may use money collected from PACER users only to fund the PACER system. Instead, the Federal Circuit concluded that PACER fees may also be used to fund the federal courts’ electronic filing system for lawyers and for the courts’ electronic bankruptcy notification system.
The last thing Tiffany Wright needed was more work.
The estate of a Texas man who presumably died in the 2014 disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 asked (2020 WL 4386258) the U.S. Supreme Court last week to address “disarray” and “confusion” in the lower courts about the deference trial courts owe to U.S. plaintiffs in forum non conveniens determinations.
No fewer than three different people used the word “nightmare” at a Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation hearing Thursday morning about whether to consolidate hundreds of federal-court suits by insurance policyholders whose claims for business interruption coverage was denied. And one of them was a judge.
A young woman named Morgan Helfman lost her case this week at the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court. Helfman wanted to hold her school, Northeastern University, responsible for what she alleges was a sexual assault that occurred in 2013, when she was a freshman and drank too much at a dorm-room Halloween party. The Massachusetts high court ruled Monday that Northeastern was not liable for Helfman’s alleged rape, affirming Suffolk County Superior Judge Robert Gordon’s grant of summary judgment to the university.
Remember back in mid-March, when the stock market was gyrating and businesses were just beginning to reckon with COVID-19 lockdowns? Corporate defense firms warned that opportunistic shareholders' lawyers were poised to pounce. Plaintiffs' lawyers said at the time that they were in no rush to bring class actions against companies that failed to anticipate the impact of the coronavirus or to disclose exposure to the ill effects of pandemic shutdowns. But Kent Schmidt at Dorsey & Whitney, who started tracking COVID-19 cases in March, told me in April that COVID-19 shareholder class actions might tick up in the second quarter of the year as anxious companies looked for good news to report.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other business group told the U.S. Supreme Court in amicus briefs filed Wednesday in CIC Services v. Internal Revenue Service that the justices should not allow the IRS and the Treasury Department to use the Anti-Injunction Act to evade pre-enforcement challenges to IRS policies. The groups called upon the Supreme Court to overturn a 2019 ruling (925 F.3d 247) that the AIA bars CIC from bringing an Administrative Procedure Act suit over a 2016 IRS policy that boosts reporting requirements for captive insurance transactions.