Ninth Circuit Declines to Apply Filed Rate Doctrine to Airfares

On April 14, 2017, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court’s partial denial of All Nippon Airways, EVA Airways, and China Airlines’ motions for summary judgment, holding that the filed rate doctrine does not bar an antitrust class action challenging the airlines’ unfiled fares, fuel surcharges, and special discount fares. This marked the first time the Ninth Circuit addressed the application of the filed rate doctrine to airfares and fees. Read More ›

Unsafe at 30,000 Feet: Why Lithium Ion Batteries Present a Serious Problem for Airlines and Passenger Safety

If you flew on a domestic flight between October 14, 2016 and January 10, 2017 you heard announcements about the ban on the transport of Samsung Galaxy Note7 devices.  This ban was put in place by the Federal Aviation Administration (“FAA”) because of the serious risk of the smartphones (also referred to as phablets) overheating, exploding and catching fire.  Although the FAA lifted the requirement of announcements, the devices are still banned on passenger and cargo flights.  (See, https://www.faa.gov/news/press_releases/news_story.cfm?newsId=21335).  Read More ›

In Defense of Animals – Protecting Pets from Being Groomed to Death

With the rising numbers of households adopting pets, spending on pet services is steadily growing from year to year. From dog grooming to dog boarding services, many pet parents are investing in these services to pamper their pooches. In 2015 alone, according to the American Pet Productions Association, $5.41 billion was spent on grooming and boarding. Unfortunately, this billion-dollar industry remains unregulated and there is no government agency or regulatory body that administers an annual safety certification of pet groomers who are entrusted with our most beloved fury companions.   Read More ›

Proposition 218, Conservation, and Tiered Water Rates

The recent inundation of rainfall in the Bay Area notwithstanding, water use, conservation and cost remain contested and closely monitored issues of local governance. Local governments and utility departments are required to comply with several constitutional provisions in charging customers for electricity and water.  Included are Proposition 26, requiring two-thirds majority approval to charge amounts not related to the cost of electric service, and Proposition 218, requiring rates be proportionate to costs, absent voter approval for other charges. Read More ›

Nationwide Generic Drug Pricing-Fixing Investigations Continue to Expand

Federal and state prosecutors are bearing down on pharmaceutical giants, and the glare on the lucrative generic drug industry is showing no signs of waning: last week, the Attorney General of Alabama announced it joined 39 other states suing many of the largest pharmaceutical corporations in the world for unlawfully skyrocketing the prices of common, household prescription medication to unprecedented levels. Read More ›

Partial Summary Judgment On Liability Can Be An Effective Strategy

Creative trial lawyers always look for ways to win cases.  Not all wins need to resolve the entire case.  Under the federal rules, courts may grant partial summary judgment on some issues, but leave others for trial.  Motions for partial summary judgment on the issue of liability can be an effective way to secure an early victory, save time and expense, and avoid having a trial last longer than needed. Read More ›

The Fairness In Class Action Litigation Act Would Restrict Court Access And Deny Justice To Consumers

Last week the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Fairness in Class Action Litigation Act (“FCALA”) by a vote of 220 to 201.[1]  While one of the bill’s authors gives lip-service to “keep[ing] the door of justice open for the American consumer,” the bill’s actual text contains numerous provisions that would increase litigation costs and delay the resolution of claims.[2]  For example, Section 1721 imposes a stay of discovery “during the pendency of any motion to transfer, motion to dismiss, motion to strike class allegations, or other motion to dispose of the class allegations.”  Discovery is often necessary at the pleadings stage because conspiracies, such as those alleged in price-fixing cases, are self-concealing, and defendants often destroy evidence of their wrongdoing.  Those same defendants will then argue that plaintiffs bring baseless claims.  Similarly, Section 1718(b) creates a difficult, if not impossible, administrative burden by requiring all settlement funds be distributed prior to “determin[ing]” attorneys’ fees, while simultaneously requiring that attorneys’ fees be based on “a reasonable percentage of any payments directly distributed to and received by class members.”  These provisions make the calculation of this percentage impossible, because they require a complete distribution prior to the determination of any fees. 

Read More ›

Immigration: Issues With the H1B Visa Program

“Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me: I lift my lamp beside the golden door.”
                       -Emma Lazarus

That quote used to be imprinted on the Welcome Mat of the United States.  Now, it’s been replaced by: “I’m sorry.  The hotel is full.  Next time make a reservation.”

In recent weeks, the new Administration of the United States has seen fit to clamp down on immigration.  There’s been fiery rhetoric about “bad hombres” apparently sneaking across the United States border with Mexico.  There was the now famous “refugee ban” that created chaos, confusion, hysteria and, now, has been replaced by a new policy that seems also destined to be the subject of multiple court challenges.  There’s even been talk about breaking up families – deporting adults who arrived in this country without going through proper channels but allowing their U.S.-born children to stay.  All of which has created a highly unstable and unpredictable situation with regard to the issue of immigration. Read More ›

An Address Like No Other – The Millennium Tower Litigation

Originally heralded as one of the “Top 10 Residential Buildings in the World” and “An Address Like No Other,” San Francisco’s 58-story Millennium Tower obtained unanticipated notoriety when it was finally disclosed to the public and residents that the building has sunk 16 inches and is leaning 2 inches at its base. A wave of finger pointing ensued between the building developers and owners of the neighboring Transbay Terminal project, with dueling teams of experts blaming excessive dewatering, failure to drill down to bedrock, or other factors, for the unexpected settlement.  Whatever its cause, however, it is clear that the building’s developers knew the building was sinking yet did not disclose this vital information when selling units to unsuspecting homeowners. Read More ›

A Wrong in Search of a Remedy – Environmental Torts

Courts recognize that there is more than one way to measure damages with environmental torts. In response, some have been willing to be flexible and choose measures to allow as full a recovery as possible where appropriate to circumstances.[1] Whether the contamination involves air, water or soil, complicated statistical models and scientific analysis are often required to establish the nature, quantity, and economic value of the damages. Read More ›