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July 2015 Archives

Pair of Class Actions Allege Widespread Treasury Auction Manipulation

July witnessed the filing of two nationwide class action lawsuits alleging collusion by prominent financial institutions to manipulate auctions for U.S. treasury bills, notes, bonds, and other instruments ("treasury securities"), with significant injury to investors and an extensive impact on the U.S. economy. ,

Texas Court Certifies Class in Landmark Securities

On July 25, 2015, Federal Judge Barbara G. Lynn of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas granted in part, and denied in part, class certification in Erica P. John Fund Inc. et al. v. Halliburton Co. et al., No. 3:02-cv-01152 (N.D. Tex. July 25. 2015), a case that has twice been heard by the Supreme Court of the United States and stands to clarify certification requirements in securities class actions. Plaintiffs allege that Defendant, Halliburton Company, misrepresented certain financial liabilities related to asbestos claims in order to inflate its stock price (a violation of SEC Rule 10b-5) and, accordingly, seek relief for a putative class of shareholders.

Priceline's Hidden Hilton Fees Prompt Class Action

Planning a trip can be stressful, but the ability of consumers to research and book hotels online helps to streamline the process and allows budget-conscious consumers to compare hotel prices. However, this system relies on the accuracy of the information presented by booking websites. An ongoing punitive class-action lawsuit against both The Priceline Group Inc. ("Priceline") and Hilton Worldwide Inc. ("Hilton") claims that travelers who book through Priceline are faced with extra fees in addition to the listed price for Hilton and other hotels.

Lawsuit claims Ford knowingly exposed vehicle owners to carbon monoxide gasses

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, exposure to carbon monoxide gas may leave those exposed suffering numerous and potentially life-threatening symptoms like dizziness, headaches, vomiting, chest pain and confusion. If exposure is prolonged, individuals may pass out and can subsequently die. In fact, an estimated 400 people in the U.S. die annually from CO poisoning and some 24,000 seek medical attention for and/or are hospitalized.

Canada Nearing Implementation of Comprehensive Whistleblower Program

The Ontario Securities Commission ("OSC"), Canada's top securities regulator, has issued a proposal for the creation of a whistleblower reporting and reward program modeled after the U.S. whistleblower framework. The program is intended to afford protection and compensation to would-be whistleblowers, who previously had little incentive to report wrongdoing. In its proposal, the OSC outlined the program's purpose as being, "to identify securities law misconduct that would not otherwise come to the attention of the OSC."1

In 2011, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission ("SEC") initiated a comprehensive whistleblower program under the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. In designing its proposal, the OSC conducted a review of the SEC whistleblower program, and in its proposal, cites data from the SEC's 2014 Annual Report to Congress on the Dodd-Frank Whistleblower Programs (see for a copy of the annual report).

Attorney for plaintiffs in Uber employment misclassification suit seeks class-action status

Previously, an individual who was in need of transportation had to look up and call the number of a cab service who then dispatched a taxi driver to a customer's location. Today, ride-share car services like Uber and Lyft are taking the place of traditional taxi services and drivers by connecting people in need of transportation with motor vehicle owners in their area via an app-based system.

Third Circuit Issues Another Key Ruling in Pay-for-Delay Case

The U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a federal district court's decision to dismiss a pay-for-delay case against GlaxoSmithKline PLC ("GSK") brought by Louisiana Wholesale Drug Co. and King Drug Co. The question before the Third Circuit was whether non-cash considerations given to generic producers could cause brand drug producers to face antitrust suits.1 The Third Circuit held that the Supreme Court's ruling in FTC v. Actavis (570 U.S. 756 (2013)) may apply to "other kinds of consideration a brand offered a generic to settle a Hatch-Waxman dispute."2 Specifically, the Third Circuit ruled that "a settlement in which the patentee drug manufacturer agrees to relinquish its right to produce an 'authorized generic' of the drug ('no-AG agreement')" is covered under Actavis.3

2nd Circuit: Apple Conspired With Publishers to Fix eBook Prices

The fight for dominance in the ebook industry has been hard-fought. While Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Apple were battling for market share in distribution, book publishers were likewise rushing to produce them. It was 2010 and Amazon already dominant in the market, so Apple had some catching up to do if it was to market ebooks for its new iPad.

Pizza Delivery Proving FLSA Kickback Has Broad Reach

Many employees, regardless of industry or location, incur regular expenses related to their jobs - i.e. purchasing tools, cleaning uniforms, and for travel. Employers and employees alike often take expenses like these for granted; however, major employers around the country are learning the consequences of leaving such expenses in the charge of employees. As elaborated below, pizza titans Domino's and Pizza Hut are each facing litigation brought by classes of delivery drivers who incur expenses that reduce their take home pay to levels below the minimum wage, in alleged violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA").

Public Union Dues Issue Heading Toward Supreme Court

In Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, ten California schoolteachers and the Christian Educators Association International ("CEAI") petitioned the Supreme Court to hear an employment case regarding fees paid to public unions by nonmember employees. They argue that public employees who are nonmembers should not have to pay required "agency fees."1 Agency fees are "expenses related to collective bargaining but not for political or ideological activities."2 Public unions charge such fees because, by law, they are required to represent nonmembers in collective bargaining negotiations.