Minding Your Business

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

Nationwide Deep Freeze Leads to Spike in Natural Gas Prices

In the wake of the deep freeze that recently swept the nation, natural gas has taken the forefront among a slew of price gouging allegations. Last week’s winter storms caused natural gas spot market prices to spike, with some reporting up to a 100% percent increase. Reports also surfaced of spot prices for wholesale electricity in Texas’ power grid increasing more than 10,000%. In response, Minnesota Senator Tina Smith (D-MN) has not only encouraged federal regulators to investigate the price spikes, but has also requested regulators to “[i]nvoke, as appropriate, any emergency authorities available, including under the Natural Gas Policy Act, to allocate natural gas supplies at fair prices.” Whether natural gas prices exceeded allowable limits under applicable price gouging statutes currently in effect depends, among other things, on whether natural gas is within the scope of these laws in the first place. Continue Reading

The Future of the FTC, Part I

On January 21, 2021, President Biden designated Federal Trade Commission (the “FTC”) Commissioner Rebecca Kelly Slaughter as acting chair of the FTC. Soon thereafter in one of her first speeches in her new role, Chairwoman Slaughter announced two substantive areas of priority for the FTC – the COVID-19 pandemic and racial equity.

Read the full post on Proskauer’s Privacy Law blog.

Double Masking is Good, but Still Make Sure You Can Be Heard in a Deposition

As the legal profession continues to adjust to the COVID-19 pandemic, even something as normal and regular as a deposition has often become an adventure. Even after accounting for the immediately obvious questions (is in-person too dangerous or not allowed? If conducting a remote deposition, what vendor should I use?) and all-to-common glitches like connectivity issues, new problems continue to pop up, even when seemingly doing the right thing. Take, for example, a deposition in Webber v. Dash, a libel and copyright case in S.D.N.Y.  Plaintiffs attempted to depose the defendant, Damon Dash, best known as a cofounder of the hip hop label Roc-A-Fella Records with Jay-Z and Kareem “Biggs” Burke. According to the Plaintiffs, there was a big problem: Dash’s testimony could not be clearly heard. In seeking termination sanctions, the plaintiffs accused Dash of purposefully speaking in a low voice behind the two masks he was wearing. (Dash may have been ahead of the curve, as shortly after the order came down, the CDC started to recommend “double masking”—wearing a cloth mask over a disposable mask—though the court’s order is unclear as to the nature of his two masks.) Continue Reading

Circuit Split Deepens as Eleventh Circuit Rejects “Risk of Identity Theft” Theory of Standing in Data Breach Suit

On February 4, 2021, the Eleventh Circuit affirmed the dismissal of a customer’s proposed class action lawsuit against a Florida-based fast-food chain, PDQ, over a data breach. The three-judge panel rejected the argument that an increased risk of identity theft was a concrete injury sufficient to confer Article III standing, deepening a circuit split on this issue. Continue Reading

“New” Guidance from Acting Attorney General on Prosecutorial Discretion

If you thought there would be no news coming out of President Biden’s Department of Justice, since his pick for Attorney General has yet to be confirmed, you would be wrong. Just over a week after Biden’s inauguration, the Acting Attorney General, Monty Wilkinson, issued interim guidance that is likely to have a major impact on criminal prosecutions, including of corporations, going forward while the new Justice Department formulates its long-term strategy. Continue Reading

Do All Class Members Have Standing For Mere Statutory Violations? The Supreme Court Will Decide

On March 30, the Supreme Court will hear arguments on whether a damages class action, is permitted by Article III of the Constitution or Rule 23 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure where the majority of the class has suffered no actual injury. Notably, this is the first time the Supreme Court will apply the rulings of Spokeo, which held that a plaintiff “cannot satisfy the demands of Article III by alleging a bare procedural violation,” to an entire class. The Supreme Court’s forthcoming decision will have significant implications on defenses to class actions, and could possibly expand liability for companies most often entangled in class actions with plaintiffs that have tenuous claims based only on statutorily created rights of action. Continue Reading

Ninth Circuit Affirms Shareholders Cannot Sue Corporate Officers for Forward-Looking Projections that Don’t Pan Out

It is illegal under the Securities Exchange Act to make false or misleading statements to the investing public about material facts.  At the same time, corporations and their officers must be able to make statements about the company’s future plans, projections, and aspirations without fear of opening themselves up to claims of securities law liability should the company’s achievements fall short of its ambitions.  The Private Securities Litigation Reform Act, therefore, has carved out a “safe harbor” for certain forward-looking statements, including forward-looking statements accompanied by meaningful cautionary language, and forward-looking statements made by someone who does not know the statement to be false or misleading.

Read the full post on Proskauer’s Corporate Defense and Disputes blog.

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