Jeffrey S. Jacobson

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Not So Full Of Hot Air: California Amends Slack Fill Law

California Governor Jerry Brown recently signed into law Assembly Bill 2632, which amended California’s slack fill law to create several new exemptions, hopefully providing some relief from the plague of slack fill lawsuits that has hit the food and beverage industry, among others, particularly hard in recent years.  For those who are unfamiliar, slack fill … Continue Reading

Slack Fill Plaintiffs May Win Battles But Lose the War

Lawyers who file “slack-fill” cases against food manufacturers found a friendly venue in Missouri.  Missouri has a broad consumer fraud law and multiple courts have denied motions to dismiss slack-fill claims pleaded under that statute.  But the real fight in class actions—where the money is, in a bank robber’s parlance—is over class certification, and on … Continue Reading

Some Sanity on “Slack Fill”

The “Show Me” state of Missouri has not been kind to candy makers in cases where consumers allege that packages contain non-functional “slack fill.”  Cases against the makers of Mike and Ike® candies, Raisinets®, and Reese’s® Pieces® all survived motions to dismiss within the last year or so, with judges finding that what “reasonable consumers” would … Continue Reading

Second Circuit Bounces Multistate “Natural” Class. Now, Keep An Eye On the Ninth Circuit

Early this year, a Ninth Circuit panel upended a major nationwide class action settlement because it found that the District Court had not sufficiently considered material differences among the 50 states’ relevant laws.  I called that decision—now likely headed for en banc review–“Regrettable But Forgettable” because the district court should be able to correct the … Continue Reading

Ding Dong, TCCWNA Class Actions Are Dead.

Today, the New Jersey Supreme Court issued a much-anticipated decision construing New Jersey’s Truth-in-Consumer Contract, Warranty, and Notice Act (“TCCWNA”). The decision affirmed that one who has not suffered actual harm from an allegedly unlawful provision in a contract or notice is not “aggrieved” and therefore cannot sue under the TCCWNA.  Importantly, the Court held … Continue Reading

State AGs Still Really Don’t Like Cy Pres Class Action Settlements

When class actions have a low settlement value relative to the size of the class, it is normal for defendants to pay out money to non-profit groups that advocate for issues relevant to the case rather than directly to class members. Last July, in “Give the Money to One Percenters, Not to Non-Profits,” I reported … Continue Reading

The Ninth Circuit’s Hyundai Decision Is Regrettable But Forgettable

This week, by a 2-1 vote, a Ninth Circuit panel reversed a district court’s approval of a massive class action settlement involving Hyundai’s and Kia’s allegedly inflated statements of fuel efficiency.  The majority’s long decision, over a vigorous dissent, amounted only to a “greatest hits” collection of Ninth Circuit class action and settlement skepticism.  Nothing … Continue Reading

NJ Supreme Court Disapproves Class Certification In Landmark TCCWNA Case

Today, the New Jersey Supreme Court drove a stake into the many class actions alleging claims under New Jersey’s Truth-in-Consumer Contract, Warranty and Notice Act (“TCCWNA”).  That law provides for $100 in damages whenever an “aggrieved consumer” demonstrates that a contract or other document contains provisions that violate any “clearly established legal right.”  The Supreme … Continue Reading

Cy Pres Class Action Settlements Just Fine, Ninth Circuit Says

What should a corporation do when a class action lawsuit claims it broke the law, the group of allegedly affected people is massive, but the real-world “harm” is effectively nil? If the lawsuit fails to state a valid claim, obviously you move to dismiss it. But what if your best arguments require expensive discovery, you … Continue Reading

Third Circuit Steps Back from the Brink of a Circuit Split over “Ascertainability”

Yesterday, a panel of the Third Circuit Court of Appeals took another step back from a circuit split over the extent to which aspiring class plaintiffs must show a “reliable and administratively feasible means of determining whether putative class members fall within the class definition,” and one judge called for scrapping that requirement altogether.… Continue Reading

Read This Before Scanning A Driver’s License In New Jersey

On October 1, 2017, a new law will take effect in New Jersey, the Personal Information and Privacy Protection Act (“PIPPA”), which will severely restrict retailers’ ability to “scan” any customer’s “identification card”–a term defined to mean “a driver’s license,” “probationary license,” “non-driver photo identification card,” or any similar card “issued…for purposes of identification.” Merely … Continue Reading

Minnesota Federal Judge Says Glyphosate Claims are “Unreasonable”

A mini-trend in food litigation last year was the spate of class action cases alleging that foods advertised as “natural” contained trace amounts of the herbicide glyphosate.  “Trace” is the operative word; to the extent plaintiffs alleged the amounts they found, those amounts always were far below even what the U.S. Department of Agriculture permits … Continue Reading

Understanding “Ascertainability” in Class Actions Now that the Second Circuit Has Said “No” To It.

On Friday, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision in In re Petrobras Securities refused to adopt what it called a “’heightened’ two-part ascertainability test in class action cases.  The Second Circuit agreed that class action plaintiffs must show that ‘the class is defined with reference to objective criteria,’ but did not agree that plaintiffs … Continue Reading

“Give the Money to One Percenters, Not to Non-Profits,” 11 State Attorneys General Argue

On July 5, bipartisan Attorneys General from 11 states filed an astonishing brief in the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, asking that court to reject the proposed class action settlement in In re Google Inc. Cookie Placement that would give settlement monies to non-profits rather than class members. The plaintiffs in Google Cookie allege that … Continue Reading

California Choice of Law Provision Defeats Claim Under NJ Consumer Protection Law

On Monday, a California federal judge enforced the California choice-of-law clause in Facebook’s online terms of use, and on that basis refused to consider the claims of a New Jersey resident that aspects of those terms of use violated New Jersey’s consumer contract disclosure law, the Truth-in-Consumer Contract, Warranty, and Notice Act (“TCCWNA”).  The decision … Continue Reading

New Jersey’s TCCWNA: New Year, Same Uncertainty

In 2016, many retailers found themselves on the wrong end of class actions brought under New Jersey’s Truth-in-Consumer Contract, Warranty and Notice Act (“TCCWNA”). The suits allege that these retailers’ website terms of service either contained provisions that violated some “clearly established” New Jersey or federal law, or else stated that violative terms might not … Continue Reading

The Ninth Circuit’s Briseno Decision Is Not As Bad As It Looks for Consumer Class Action Defendants

The Ninth Circuit’s decision this week in Briseno v. ConAgra Foods, Inc., No. 15-55727, refused to engraft an “administrative feasibility” requirement to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23’s prerequisites for certifying a class action.  What this means, basically, is that in Ninth Circuit courts, a named plaintiff seeking class certification need not “demonstrate an administratively … Continue Reading

Casino Patron Out of Luck On Her New Jersey TCCWNA Claim

The mid-level New Jersey appellate court issued an important decision last week under the state’s Truth-in-Consumer Contract and Warranty Notification Act (“TCCWNA”). The biggest TCCWNA issues, including to what extent the law applies to website terms of service and fairly standard liability disclaimers in those terms, are still awaiting decisions from U.S. District Courts. But … Continue Reading

Clarity Coming Soon About What New Jersey’s Truth-in-Consumer Contract, Warranty and Notice Act (“TCCWNA”) Actually Requires

Remember that wave of class actions under New Jersey’s Truth-in-Consumer Contract, Warranty and Notice Act (“TCCWNA”), N.J.S.A. § 56:12-14 et seq., that hit New Jersey courts earlier this year, claiming that website terms of use contained unlawful provisions?  The motion to dismiss briefing is well underway, and online merchants should soon have some clarity about … Continue Reading

Spokeo Starting To Impact Class Certification Decisions — Stay Tuned

We are often asked what we see as the most promising avenues for class action defense arising from the Supreme Court’s Spokeo decision.  Our answer is that even if courts, post-Spokeo, give Congress wide latitude to define a compensable “injury,” courts should not certify classes that include people who did not suffer that injury.  As … Continue Reading

Mobile App Providers Encouraged to Obtain User Consent Before Sharing Video Viewing Information with Any Third Party After Gannett Mega-damages VPPA Claim Moves Forward

If you offer a mobile application that allows consumers to watch videos of any kind, and if you share that video-viewing information with an analytics firm, take careful note:  On April 29, in Yershov v. Gannett Satellite Information Network, Inc., No 15-1719, a panel of the First Circuit Court of Appeals that included retired Justice … Continue Reading

Class Actions Under New Jersey Warranty Law Threaten to Turn Terms-of-Service Boilerplate Into Big Potential Risks

Do your Terms of Service preclude litigants from claiming consequential damages or attorneys’ fees? If new class action lawsuits in New Jersey are right, merely including these terms, and potentially many other disclaimers, violates New Jersey state law, and subjects you to a penalty of $100 per sale. This interpretation of New Jersey’s 36 year-old … Continue Reading
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