Imagine you are an investor and you decide to file a lawsuit after a company that you invest in suffers a stock drop. When you get to the courthouse, you find that you are the first person to file a federal securities class action on these facts. However, because of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act (PSLRA), the district court chooses another party to be “lead plaintiff” in the litigation. Under the control of that lead plaintiff, the court dismisses the case prior to class certification, and you want to appeal that decision. Do you have standing? Your name is in the case caption for the active complaint. You were, in fact, the very first plaintiff in this action. But you aren’t the lead plaintiff anymore.
In July, Instagram’s parent company Meta Platforms, Inc. (“Meta”) agreed to a $68.5 million class-action biometric privacy settlement in connection with the company’s alleged violation of Illinois’ Biometric Information Privacy Act, 740 ILCS 14/1, et seq. (BIPA).
Statutes permitting discretionary attorney fee-shifting for prevailing defendants vary in the circumstances under which fee-shifting is permitted. Two recent cases tackling the question of why and when a lawsuit warrants shifting attorneys’ fees from a prevailing defendant to the plaintiff who brought the claim reflect some of these differences. One case focused on “frivolousness” of the lawsuit, and the other imposed a “bad faith” requirement—despite the absence of such language from the relevant statute. The perceived motivation of the respective plaintiffs and purpose behind the statutes under which the claims were brought were influential.
The Class Action Fairness Act (“CAFA”), was enacted to make federal courts the primary venue for class action litigation. It did so by modifying the usual jurisdictional requirements of the diversity jurisdiction statute. Under CAFA, federal courts may exercise removal jurisdiction over state law class actions originally filed in state court so long as there is “minimal” rather than “complete” diversity, and the amount in controversy is greater than $5 million.
Defendants on the losing side of a class certification order were recently provided with a roadmap of how to challenge a district court’s analysis on appeal.
On April 12, 2023, the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit vacated and remanded a district court’s class certification order because it failed to “rigorously analyze” the prerequisites to certify a class under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23. The appellate court held that the district court abused its discretion by failing to “go beyond the pleadings” – in other words, the plaintiffs’ allegations – in its analysis.
On February 2, 2021, the Eleventh Circuit reversed the district court’s denial of class certification for failure to prove an administratively feasible method to identify absent class members. The Eleventh Circuit’s rejection of administrative feasibility as a prerequisite to certification under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23 has deepened a circuit split on the issue.
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.
A federal court recently issued a decision approving a class action settlement resolving litigation stemming from five Yahoo! data breaches that occurred from 2012 to 2016 and affected at least 194 million Yahoo! customers. The company agreed to establish a $117.5 million settlement fund and institute numerous business practice changes designed to prevent future data breaches. Of particular interest in the approval order, however, was the Court’s comparison of the instant settlement to a prior in-district data breach settlement. A review of the approval order provides insight into the factors judges analyze to ensure settlements are reasonable, proper, and in the best interests of the class.