Posts tagged Class Action Litigation.

The Supreme Court has granted a certiorari petition in Mississippi v. Au Optronics Corp., S. Ct. Case No. 12-2036, and agreed to decide an issue that will impact the growing number of attorney general civil lawsuits around the country: "[w]hether a state's parens patriae action is removable as a 'mass action' under the Class Action Fairness Act when the state is the sole plaintiff, the claims arise under state law, and the state attorney general possesses statutory and common-law authority to assert all claims in the complaint."

Last week, the Sixth Circuit issued a ruling which defined the standard in the Sixth Circuit for liability under Section 11 of the Securities Act of 1933, created a circuit split, and likely garnered the attention of the Supreme Court. 

A criminal antitrust case involving two bagged ice producers that pleaded guilty to conspiring "to supress and eliminate competition" was recently concludeded in U.S. District Court in Cincinnati.  While KMK was not involved in this case, it does bring to mind a few key considerations for companies and their attorneys to weigh when faced with bet-the-company criminal and civil litigation.

For a more theoretical and mildly controversial read regarding class actions, follow the argument and articles (like the recent article in the February 8, 2010 issue of Forbes) of Northwestern University School of Law Professor Martin Redish, who is now suggesting that Rule 23 may be unconstitutional.

Justice Sotomayor wrote her first substantive opinion as a Supreme Court Justice, and it is a good read and a good wake up call for class action practitioners.

In an ERISA case pending in the Northern District of Illinois involving breach of fiduciary duty and prohibited transaction claims, the plaintiffs filed a motion asking the court to allow them to proceed in a representative capacity on behalf of the plan under ERISA section 502(a)(2) rather than require them to certify a class under Federal Rule 23.  The District Court in Chicago denied that motion based on the defendants' opposition, and suggested that the case proceed, not as a class action under Federal Rule 23, but as a "derivative action" under Federal Rule 23.1.

ERISA class action litigation has become a niche practice. Originally, ERISA class actions were tag-along suits in securities cases. In recent years, plaintiffs have sought to certify ERISA class actions on a broad variety of breach of fiduciary duty claims. One such variety was the "excessive fees" claim — a claim that the plan sponsor and/or administrator breached its fiduciary duty to a class of plan participants by allowing unreasonable or excessive fees to be charged to the class on the investments offered through the Plan.

Everyone practicing in this area knows that over the past several years, hundreds of "stock drop" class action complaints have been filed around the country against virtually every public company and financial institution — whether they survived the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression or not.

"Barratry" dates back to 15th Century Middle English and is defined by Mirriam Webster's Dictionary as: (1) the purchase or sale of office or preferment in church or state; (2) an unlawful act or fraudulent breach of duty by a master of a ship or by the mariners to the injury of the owner of the ship or cargo; and (3) the persistent incitement of litigation. Barratry is a common law crime in some states and a civil tort or equitable defense in others.

Over the past several years, circuit courts have started to provide more specific guidance on the countours of the "rigorous" analysis required by district courts in deciding whether to certify a class. 

Blog Contact:  Joseph Callow, Litigation Partner or 513.579.6419


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