Minding Your Business

Proskauer’s perspective on developments and trends in commercial litigation.

Putative Class Complains that Annie’s “Strawberry Fruit Snacks” Lack Strawberries

On August 1, 2017, plaintiff Raymond Alvandi filed a putative class action in California federal court against Annie’s, Inc., seeking damages and injunctive and declaratory relief. Alvandi alleges that Annie’s misrepresented the strawberry content and nutritional and health qualities of its “Summer Strawberry” Organic Bunny Fruit Snacks. Alvandi seeks to represent a nationwide class of all consumers of Annie’s Strawberry Fruit Snacks in the last six years, as well as a subclass of those who purchased the fruit snacks in California. He claims that the court has jurisdiction pursuant to the Class Action Fairness Act, alleging that there are at least several thousand putative class members and that the amount in controversy exceeds $5,000,000. Alvandi alleges that over the last six years, Annie’s marketing practices have been deceptive, trying to convince consumers that its Strawberry Fruit Snacks actually contain strawberries and are a nutritious and healthful option. Instead, the only fruit-related byproduct in the Strawberry Fruit Snacks is “Pear Juice From Concentrate,” which is essentially a neutral tasting form of sugar. Continue Reading

You Want to Review ESI that the Other Side has Deemed Nonresponsive? That’ll Be Extra

Have you ever thought your adversary was withholding relevant ESI from document production? Have you wanted to look at the withheld documents to show that some are indeed relevant? Well, you might be able to – but it’ll cost you. In Nachurs Alpine Solutions, Corp. v. Banks, an Iowa District Court recently ordered that documents deemed nonresponsive by Defendants and withheld from production be produced to Plaintiff, but that Plaintiff would have to bear its own costs of reviewing them. Continue Reading

Hide and Seek: Plaintiff Permitted to Subpoena Internet Service Provider to Identify Alleged Infringers

Recently, E.D.N.Y. Magistrate Judge Steven M. Gold ordered that a third-party subpoena may be served upon an internet service provider (“ISP”) to identify information about network users who allegedly infringed copyrighted material. Continue Reading

Judge, Jury and . . . Attorney’s Fees

When a contract awards attorneys’ fees to one party in a contract action, California Civil Code § 1717 intervenes by a) directing the attorney’s fees to the prevailing party, regardless of the party awarded fees in the contract, and b) requiring the court to fix the attorney’s fees as an element of the costs of suit. But does § 1717 supplant the right to a jury trial in situations where attorney’s fees are sought as damages, instead of as costs? As the California Court of Appeal recently held in Monster, LLC v. Superior Court of Los Angeles County: No. Continue Reading

Robotic Review: The Use of Artificial Intelligence in Contract Review

Through the help of artificial intelligence (“AI”), your smartphone can act as a GPS that adjusts its recommended route in real-time based on emerging traffic patterns. By adapting to changes in traffic, the smartphone is able to redirect a driver to a faster route. Now imagine these adaptive capabilities in the legal field. With the potential of AI growing rapidly, the use of AI technology, though still in its infancy, is gaining traction with law firms, helping to provide better outcomes for clients, faster. According to a recent survey by management consulting firm Altman Weil, law firms are beginning to explore AI’s potential. While only 7.5% of surveyed law firms are currently making use of AI, nearly a third of the surveyed law firms have begun to explore opportunities to use AI as a legal tool. The capabilities of AI, whether currently available or on the horizon, suggest that both lawyers and clients can benefit from the legal field’s embrace of AI. This is particularly true with respect to the use of AI in the many phases of contract review: contract creation, contract analysis, and contract due diligence. Continue Reading

New CFPB Arbitration Rule Already Under Attack

On July 10, 2017, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) issued a new rule that would make it easier for consumers to bring class action lawsuits against financial institutions. The new rule bans financial institutions from using mandatory arbitration clauses in consumer contracts to prevent and avoid class action lawsuits. If the new rule goes into effect, it would apply to all new contracts involving consumer financial products and services, such as credit cards, bank accounts, and auto leases. The rule does not cover consumer mortgages because Congress already prohibits arbitration agreements in the residential mortgage market. Continue Reading

Supreme Court Clarifies Specific Jurisdiction and Ends Forum Shopping Spree

The Supreme Court has put an end to a jurisdictional contrivance used by the plaintiffs’ bar to shop for a friendly state forum, even if neither the plaintiff, nor the defendant, nor the actionable conduct took place in those states. In last month’s Bristol-Myers Squibb Company v. Superior Court decision, the Court ruled that out-of-state plaintiffs could not piggyback on the claims of in-state plaintiffs to assert jurisdiction over an out-of-state defendant. In doing so, the Court rejected the notion that plaintiffs’ counsel can exploit the claims of a handful of in-state plaintiffs as a hook to bring a nationwide lawsuit against an out-of-state corporation in the plaintiffs’ preferred forum. Continue Reading

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