Class Actions

In 2009, Professor Martin H. Redish of Northwestern Law School published a book arguing that class actions are in large part unconstitutional: Wholesale Justice: Constitutional Democracy and the Problem of the Class Action Lawsuit (Stanford Univ. Press 2009). Where is the practicing bar?

I understand that nobody reads law review articles or books published by an academic press. And I wouldn’t condemn any practicing lawyer to reading any issue of a law review from cover to cover. But I don’t think it’s asking too much to insist that lawyers remain gently abreast of the academic literature in their field and deploy new ideas aggressively when scholars propose them. Redish’s book shows why in-house counsel should demand more of their outside lawyers.

This post is a two-fer: I’m going both substantive — by summarizing Redish’s argument about why many class actions are unconstitutional — and pragmatic — by criticizing law firms that ignore ideas springing up in the academy that should be used in litigation. (For me, drafting that two-fer is an unusual trick. As regular readers know, it’s typically hard to find even a single thought tucked into one of my columns.)

What does Redish say about class actions, and how have most law firms been derelict?

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As we mentioned today in Morning Docket, William Robinson, the newly appointed president of the American Bar Association, is taking a stand on the status quo of legal education in our country.

But instead of combating 2011’s annus horribilis for law schools by calling for reform, Robinson is defending the ABA’s role, stating that young lawyers “should have known what they were getting into.”

Isn’t it wonderful to know that the man in charge of the ABA is essentially playing the “blame the victim” card when it comes to debt-saddled and unemployed law school graduates?

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Here in California, we’re pretty much legally obligated to love our hybrid cars, our medical marijuana, and our activist judges. But what happens when treasured liberal clichés don’t live up to the hype?

A former attorney in Los Angeles is unsatisfied with her Honda Civic hybrid’s gas mileage. It seems her supposedly high-efficiency car was emitting more smog than smug. A class action lawsuit against the auto manufacturer probably won’t give her the relief she wants. So she is taking on Honda in an unusual judicial venue and hoping to remove lawyers from the equation….

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Back in October, we brought you the news that Jesse Strauss and David Anziska intended to sue 15 more law schools over their post-graduate employment rates, in addition to their already pending class action suits against Cooley Law and New York Law School. As mentioned during their October 5 media conference, Team Strauss/Anziska will not sue a law school unless they are able to gather three named plaintiffs to represent the class.

Now that it’s mid-December, we’re still waiting for these lawsuits to be filed. What’s the hold up? These crusading lawyers say that they are ready, willing, and able to sue all 15 law schools, but there’s just one teeny, tiny problem. Here’s where our loyal readers come in.

Are you a disgruntled law school graduate? Did you rely on your law school’s employment data, only to find that you are now unemployed or unemployable, despite your law degree?

If so, then consider heeding this call, if you want to help crowdsource a lawsuit against what Anziska calls the “law school industry cartel”….

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* In an unprecedented move, Health Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has overruled the FDA. Looks like the Obama administration thinks that Plan B will turn little girls into promiscuous prosti-tots. [Wall Street Journal]

* Due to this ruling, Occupy Boston protesters will probably have to STFU and GTFO. Bring out the brooms, because this will be the only sweep that Red Sox Nation gets to see for a while. [Bloomberg]

* Hopefully UVA Law student Joshua Gomes has some transcript paper stashed away, because with a bond hearing on December 12, he’s probably going to be missing some finals. [The Hook]

* The spouses of the Supremes have published Chef Supreme, a cookbook dedicated to RBG’s husband, famed tax lawyer Martin Ginsburg. Better title: Article III Gourmand. [Blog of Legal Times]

* Lovely Hooters ladies in California will no longer have to pay for their uniforms thanks to this class action settlement. Stay tuned for smaller, tighter uniforms in light of budgetary constraints. [KCRA 3]

Last week, the tech world caught fire with the newest in an increasingly long list of electronic privacy scandals. Carrier IQ, a small Silicon Valley software company with its product installed on millions of cell phones, made headlines when a young programmer posted a video allegedly showing the software’s ability to log keystrokes and collect other, very personal information from phones.

By the end of last week, the controversy had already sparked an angry letter from democratic Senator Al Franken, two class-action lawsuits, and a flurry of denials and explanations from the software company as well as major mobile phone carriers. We briefly mentioned the story in Friday’s Non-Sequiturs, but it deserves a deeper look.

Is Carrier IQ as bad as it sounds? Good question….

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Plaintiffs’ lawyers in class action cases: are they heroes, or villains? Do they make too much in fees, leaving the classes they represent high and dry? Or could it be argued that they make too little for the work that they do?

Let’s discuss….

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In August, New York Law School was hit with a class action lawsuit over the school’s allegedly deceptive post-graduate employment data. The suit accused NYLS of fraud, negligent misrepresentation, and deceptive business practices. Now, two months later, NYLS is packing some Biglaw heat and moving to dismiss the complaint.

In a case of David v. Goliath, Jesse Strauss and David Anziska, the small-firm lawyers who brought the suit on behalf of the plaintiffs, are now up against the lawyers at Venable, whose motion to dismiss on behalf of NYLS was accompanied by a cutting 25-page memorandum of law.

But why is the NYLS brief so harsh? Because the school argues that the Gomez-Jimenez suit isn’t about the plaintiffs at all, but instead is part of a “crusade” against the American Bar Association….

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Earlier this week, the federal government got some heat for allegedly violating the common man’s electronic privacy by snooping around in email and the like. Today we have a lawsuit from Kentucky accusing a tech company, specifically Facebook, of doing nearly the same thing.

What is going on? It’s almost like there’s no privacy anywhere anymore! (I’m kidding, of course: Privacy completely disappeared years ago.)

The suit, filed by an average Facebook user like you or me (well, most of you are lawyers, so not quite like you), claims a class of 150 million people, and damages of hundreds or thousands of dollars per class member. Exactly what heinous offense has Facebook supposedly committed?

I’m so glad you asked….

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Back in August, we reported that Kurzon Strauss had filed class action lawsuits against Thomas M. Cooley Law School and New York Law School for fraud, negligent misrepresentation, and deceptive business practices. And earlier this week, we started to wonder how those cases would be moving forward, because Kurzon Strauss is apparently no more.

That’s right, the law firm that brought us some of the most prolific class action lawsuits of the year has broken up. Breaking up is hard to do, especially when you’ve got major cases like Gomez-Jimenez v. NYLS and MacDonald v. Cooley Law to deal with.

So, what’s a lawyer to do? Apparently the solution is to file fifteen more class action lawsuits against law schools with questionable post-graduate employment data.

Is your law school or alma mater a defendant? Let’s find out….

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