In this Sidley Update: CAFA Mass Actions; Corporate Personal Jurisdiction; Class Certification Appeals; Materiality: Insider Trading; Discovery Sanctions; Spokeo Standing; False Claims Act
Securities and Shareholder Litigation and Class Actions
CAFA Mass Actions
The Third Circuit, in Ramirez v. Vintage Pharmaceuticals, LLC, Nos. 17-1221 et al. (3d Cir. Mar. 28, 2017), placed the “burden of clarity” on plaintiffs seeking to avoid the Class Action Fairness Act’s (CAFA) classification of joint-tried cases as mass-actions removable to federal court, holding that “[w]here … more than 100 plaintiffs file a single complaint containing claims involving common questions of law and fact, a proposal for a joint trial will be presumed unless an explicit and unambiguous disclaimer is included.” Slip op. at 5, 13 (emphasis added).
As the Third Circuit emphasized, “[a]s masters of their Complaint, Plaintiffs may structure their action in such a way that intentionally avoids removal under CAFA … Plaintiffs are provided with a great deal of power in the CAFA removal context,” and the burden of proof remains on the party seeking removal. Id. at 10, 12-13. “[A] clear and express statement in the Complaint evincing an intent to limit coordination of claims to some subset of pretrial proceedings would effectively shield this action from removal under CAFA.” Id. at 11. But precisely because of this, the court read language in the complaint that was ambiguous – such as references to a jury trial in the singular – as arguably demands for a joint trial, which may be demanded explicitly or implicitly. Id. at 7, 8-9, 12. Thus, the “burden of clarity” was placed on the party with the power to control the pleading. Id. at 13. The court also rejected the plaintiffs’ argument that a Pennsylvania Mass Tort Program would not have permitted a joint trial: “the face of the Complaint and the structure of the action are the best indicators of whether a joint trial is being sought.” Id. at 13-16.
Corporate Personal Jurisdiction
The Ninth Circuit, in Williams v. Yamaha Motor Corp., No. 15-55924 (9th Cir. Mar. 24, 2017), held that the Supreme Court had overruled the Ninth Circuit’s prior test for finding personal jurisdiction over a parent corporation on the theory that its subsidiary acted as its agent. It also disposed of other jurisdiction and consumer fraud issues.
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