Yesterday, a consumer watchdog in the UK filed an unprecedented representative action against Google for allegedly misusing personal data. According to the group Google You Owe Us, between June 2011 and February 2012, Google bypassed the default privacy settings on over 5 million users’ iPhones in the UK to collect user data unlawfully.
Late last night, the US Senate voted 51 to 50 to repeal a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) rule prohibiting class action waivers in arbitration agreements. All but two Republicans (Senators Lindsey Graham (SC) and John Kennedy (LA)) voted to repeal the CFPB’s arbitration rule while all Democrats voted against repeal. Vice President Mike Pence broke the 50-50 tie. In July, the House also voted to repeal the CFPB arbitration rule. President Trump is expected to sign the resolution. In a statement following the Senate vote, the President said: “By repealing this rule, Congress is standing up for everyday consumers and community banks and credit unions, instead of the trial lawyers, who would have benefitted the most from the CFPB’s uninformed and ineffective policy.”
The Senate vote came on the heels of a report from the U.S. Treasury finding that the CFPB’s arbitration rule would bring little benefit to consumers at great cost. Earlier this fall, a review by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency also determined that the CFPB’s arbitration would likely cause significant increase in credit costs to consumers.
The House and Senate voted to repeal the CFPB rule under the Congressional Review Act (“CRA”), which allows Congress to overturn a recently finalized agency rule by a majority vote. Significantly, the CRA does not just repeal the rule. Under the CRA, the rule cannot be “reissued in the same form” nor can a “new rule” that is “substantially the same” as the disapproved resolution be issued unless such action is specifically authorized by a law enacted subsequent to the disapproval of the original rule.
In light of these recent developments in Congress and the continued enforcement of arbitration agreements in the courts, it is more important now than ever to review your use of arbitration agreements and ensure that your agreements are up to date, include the latest guidance from courts, and contain the provisions you need, such as class action waivers. Squire Patton Boggs has seasoned and experienced regulatory, litigation, and policy lawyers who can ensure that your arbitration agreements will be enforceable and effective in reducing litigation costs.
As the Gatorade Company recently learned, the California Attorney General views statements that allegedly “disparage” the consumption of water to be a violation of California’s consumer protection statutes.
As regular class action litigators are aware, Rule 23(f) provides a potential safety valve in case of an adverse class certification order: within 14 days, a party may file a petition to the applicable court of appeals seeking interlocutory appeal of the order. However, if a litigant first files a motion for reconsideration after the 14-day time limit, and then – after the motion is denied months later – files a Rule 23(f) petition, is the appellate court without jurisdiction to consider the petition? In Lambert v. Nutraceutical Corp., the Ninth Circuit answered that question in the negative, finding that the 14-day deadline is not jurisdictional, and therefore may be equitably tolled by such a motion. Practitioners are advised, however, not to assume that other courts (particularly the Third Circuit, and likely the Tenth and Eleventh Circuits as well) would allow the Rule 23(f) deadline to be so tolled.
Fifteen months after the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark decision in Spokeo, Inc. v. Robins (Spokeo II), 136 S. Ct. 1540 (2016), the Ninth Circuit issued its opinion on remand. The only question before the Ninth Circuit was whether the plaintiff’s allegations regarding his injuries – resulting from Spokeo’s alleged violation of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (the “FCRA”) – were sufficiently concrete to confer Article III standing. In Spokeo III, the Ninth Circuit answered that question in the affirmative, finding that (1) the relevant provisions of the FCRA were established to protect the concrete interests of consumers like plaintiff, and (2) plaintiff alleged actual harm to his concrete interests resulting from Spokeo’s publication of an inaccurate report about him.
Reassigned numbers have been at the center of the surge in litigation under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”) during the last few years. By now the story is well known to businesses that actively communicate with their customers: the customer consents to receive telemarketing and/or informational robocalls at a wireless telephone number, but months or years later the customer changes his or her wireless telephone number and—unbeknownst to the business—the telephone number is reassigned to a different person. When the recipient of the reassigned number starts receiving calls or messages from the business, a lawsuit often ensues under the TCPA because that party has not consented to receive such calls. The FCC adopted on July 13 a Second Notice of Inquiry (“Second NOI”) that promises to address this problem in a meaningful way. Specifically, the Second NOI focuses on the feasibility of “using numbering information to create a comprehensive resource that businesses can use to identify telephone numbers that have been reassigned from a consumer who has consented to receiving calls to a consumer who has not.” Continue Reading
The U.K.’s Competition Appeal Tribunal has just issued its judgment dismissing the application for a Collective Proceedings Order in Walter Hugh Merricks CBE v. MasterCard Inc., holding that the claims asserted “should not be certified under rule 79 as eligible for inclusion in collective proceedings.” Stay tuned for our analysis of this landmark decision.
Update: Our colleagues at the UK Finance Disputes and Regulatory Investigations Blog have summarized the judgment here.
On July 10, 2017, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) issued its final rule precluding class action waivers in arbitration agreements in many consumer financial services contracts. The much-anticipated final rule comes more than a year after the CFPB issued its proposed rule, which was based on the CFPB’s March 2015 study of consumer arbitration required by Section 1028 of the Dodd-Frank Act. The CFPB received over 110,000 comments to its proposed rule, and notwithstanding strong opposition from the financial services industry, on July 10, the CFPB issued a final rule that is largely unchanged from the proposed rule. For our discussion of the CFPB’s proposed arbitration rule, please see our client alert from May 2016.
A recently filed class action illustrates how allegations of illegal activity abroad can result in securities class action exposure in the United States – even for a Chinese fishing company incorporated in the Cayman Islands.
In this week’s roundup, the dawn of anti-spam class actions in Canada is delayed, the largest Norwegian class action in history is allowed to proceed, and GM’s dealers in India threaten to file a class action in the U.S against the automaker.