Earlier this year, the U.S. Supreme Court decided Air & Liquid Systems Corp., et al. v. Devries, 139 S. Ct. 986 (2019), a maritime tort law case in which plaintiffs alleged that asbestos exposure during their Navy service caused them to develop cancer. The Supreme Court held that, in the maritime context, a manufacturer has a duty to warn not only of the manufacturer’s own products, but also of third-party products that are later added to the manufacturer’s product.
Continue Reading

Last week, the US Supreme Court ruled that an offer of judgment under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 68 made to the lead plaintiff in a class action lawsuit, in addition to a separate free-standing settlement offer in the same amount, does not render the lawsuit moot.

In Campbell-Ewald Co. v. Gomez, No. 14-857, 2016 WL 228345 (U.S. Jan. 20, 2016), Jose Gomez filed a class-action lawsuit seeking damages under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act as a result of unwanted text messages he and others received from Campbell-Ewald Company.  Before Gomez had filed his motion for class certification, Campbell made an offer of judgment to him under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 68 which would have satisfied his personal claim entirely.  Gomez allowed this offer to lapse after 14 days, as specified by the rule.  Campbell then moved to dismiss the case, claiming that no controversy remained after its offer provided Gomez with complete relief.  Both the District Court and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals disagreed with Campbell.
Continue Reading

The Supreme Court recently granted certiorari in Spokeo v. Robins, a case that has the potential to redefine standing in federal court. The Ninth Circuit’s February 2014 decision permitted plaintiff Thomas Robins to establish standing under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (“FCRA”) with nothing more than a speculative injury. This contravenes Supreme Court precedent, which finds standing when a plaintiff suffers a harm that is actual, distinct, palpable, and concrete; attenuated and hypothetical injuries do not constitute an injury-in-fact. The implications of the Ninth Circuit’s holding in Spokeo v. Robins have grabbed the attention of companies in nearly every industry. Their concern, as expressed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce – granting standing to plaintiffs who have not suffered an injury-in-fact will open the flood gates to no-injury class actions brought under statutes that authorize a private right of action. But, in truth, the implications to businesses could extend beyond this.
Continue Reading

The United States Supreme Court has decided not to review Pliva v. Huck, an Iowa Supreme Court decision that held federal law does not preempt failure to update claims against generic drug manufacturers. Pliva challenged the ruling on the ground such claims were covered under the federal preemption memorialized in the 2011 U.S. Supreme Court decision Pliva v. Mensing.
Continue Reading

On Monday, December 15, the U.S. Supreme Court issued an opinion that makes it easier for defendants to remove class actions to federal court under the Class Action Fairness Act of 2005 (“CAFA”). Dart Cherokee Basin Operating Co. v. Owens does so in three ways:

1.     A defendant’s Notice of Removal does not have to include evidentiary submissions to establish federal jurisdiction under CAFA.  A CAFA class action can be removed to federal court if the amount in controversy – i.e. value of the case – exceeds $5 million.  Under Dart, defendants need only make a “plausible allegation” that the value of the case satisfies this jurisdictional amount.  Evidence supporting the amount alleged is not required. This “plausible allegation” standard echoes the “short and plain statement” pleading standard in Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a). If neither the plaintiff nor the district court contests the defendant’s allegations regarding the amount in controversy, no “evidence” is necessary.  But if the allegations are contested, both sides submit proof, and the court will decide, by a preponderance of the evidence standard, whether the amount in controversy is met.
Continue Reading