497417651327Possible shift

In 2014, the ABA Journal called the Fifth Circuit the “nation’s most divisive, controversial and conservative appeals court”. Liberal blog Jezebel deemed it “exceedingly conservative”. Even The Wall Street Journal described the court this year as “conservative-leaning”.

But in a recent case over limits on voting rights, the court ruled for the left-leaning opponents of the restrictions. And last week, the court sitting en banc voted 11-5 to revive a $250+ million class action. Torres v. S.G.E. Management, L.L.C., No. 14-20128 (5th Cir. Sept. 30, 2016) (en banc).

Has the court’s center of gravity shifted?


Continue Reading

Handshake with TearLast Thursday, the Association for Corporate Growth hosted a talk in Dallas about deals that result in a lawsuit or arbitration. Several dozen deal-makers, mergers and acquisitions lawyers, and consultants attended. The Honorable Jeff Kaplan of JAMS, Elizabeth Brandon of Vinson & Elkins, and I gave the talk. Ladd Hirsch of Diamond McCarthy organized and moderated the event. In a little over an hour, we discussed the characteristics that commonly occur in transactions that produce formal claims, offered suggestions on how deal-makers can manage the risk of earl disputes, and answered several thoughtful questions from the audience. I enjoyed the session immensely. Please see my review of the lively discussion below.
Continue Reading

FundingBig dollars in business cases

Expenses in big-dollar lawsuits can run into the millions of dollars. An antitrust class action that I’ve handled since 2003, for instance, cost more than $8 million. The law firms representing the class fronted all that money, with no assurance we would ever get any of it back. Why would any sane person do such a thing?
Continue Reading

FundingSizable expenses

A big commercial case can cost millions in expenses — by which I mean out-of-pocket costs that the plaintiff or its counsel must pay net of attorneys’ fees. A portfolio of cases — for infringement of a patent or family of patents, say — can run many millions more. Who will bear that burden? And what will it cost?
Continue Reading

The Macondo spill also spawned securities fraud claims
The Macondo spill also spawned securities fraud claims

Modest decision

In Comcast Corp. v. Behrend, 133 S. Ct. 1426 (2013), a 5-4 majority — over an extraordinary joint dissent by Justices Ginsburg and Breyer — had to work hard to make a modest ruling. The Court held that plaintiffs seeking class treatment under Rule 23(b)(3) sometimes may have to plausibly link their theory of liability (the misconduct that caused damages) to the theory of class-wide damages (the estimate of the damages flowing from the misconduct) in order to obtain class certification.

I say emphatically that the Court did not hold that any plaintiff class seeking certification under Rule 23(b)(3) must prove damages on a class-wide basis. It said only that if a class cannot obtain class certification without establishing class-wide damages, then by golly it must show that it can establish class-wide damages.

I should know; I briefed and argued the case for the plaintiff class.
Continue Reading