Judge Rakoff Calls Consumer “Consent” to Online Arbitration Agreements a Legal Fiction

Scales of Justice in courtroom

In a court ruling regarding alleged Uber price-fixing, U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff states in no uncertain terms that when it comes to online arbitration agreements, consumer consent is nothing more than a “legal fiction.” [Read more…]

Court Grants Preliminary Approval to $14.7 Billion Settlement in VW Diesel Emissions Scandal

VW Diesel Emissions Scandal Settlement

As reported by the Wall Street Journal, The Guardian, and numerous other outlets, U.S. District Judges Charles Breyer has granted preliminary approval to a $14.7 billion settlement in the Volkswagen diesel emissions case, where more than 500 federal lawsuits have been filed and consolidated into one complaint against the automaker for its “dirty diesel” vehicles. In late 2015, the German carmaker publicly admitted that it had rigged emissions production in the diesel engines of approximately 11 million vehicles worldwide. [Read more…]

Nicholas Diamand Elected Chair of AAJ Consumer Privacy/Data Breach Litigation Group

Nicholas Diamand Elected Chair of AAJ Consumer Privacy/Data Breach Litigation Group

At the American Association for Justice’s 2016 annual conference, Lieff Cabraser partner Nicholas Diamand was elected Chair of the AAJ’s Consumer Privacy/Data Breach Litigation Group. [Read more…]

Compensation for Volkswagen’s Diesel Emissions Victims

Compensation for Volkswagen's Diesel Emissions Victims

Working with plaintiffs’ counsel and lawyers for Volkswagen, the federal government has reached a $14.7 billion settlement in the Volkswagen diesel emissions cheating scandal, deemed “one of the largest consumer class action payouts in American history” by the New York Times. Owners and lessees of VW and Audi 2.0-liter diesel vehicles will be provided with substantial compensation through buybacks, lease terminations, government-approved emissions modifications, and cash payments. As noted by the Times, the settlement “should also act as a deterrent to future bad behavior by companies that deliberately violate rules aimed at protecting consumers and the environment.” [Read more…]

Blue Shield of California May Be Shortchanging Consumers

Blue Shield of California May Be Shortchanging Consumers

California’s third largest healthcare plan, Blue Shield, is under scrutiny for allegedly shortchanging consumers by not adequately paying back policyholders for excessive administrative spending in 2014. About 3.4 million customers that participate in Blue Shield of California health plans, but these charges only pertain to the nearly 500,000 Californians who are on an individual plan, as opposed to one purchased through an employer. [Read more…]

Forced Arbitration Steals Consumers’ Rights

Forced Arbitration Steals Consumers’ Rights

Lieff Cabraser partner Mark P. Chalos has written an article for The Tennessean discussing the mandatory arbitration clauses hidden in an astonishing number of financial service and product contracts that ultimately deprive consumers of their basic constitutional rights to justice when something goes wrong. Chalos’ “Forced Arbitration Steals Consumers’ Rights” piece also signals a call to action for consumers to voice their opinions to federal and state legislators now, during open review of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB) newly proposed rules. [Read more…]

Public Comment Period on Proposed U.S. Agency Rules to Stop Corporate “Contract Gotchas” Begins

Public Comment Period on Proposed U.S. Agency Rules to Stop Corporate ‘Contract Gotchas’ Begins Today

In a move intended to level the playing field between the American public and corporations with regard to contract disputes on financial products, the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) proposed new rules this month that would limit corporations’ ability to force citizens away from the court system and into mandatory arbitration. Proposed new rules by U.S. agencies like the CFPB trigger a statutory 90-day public comment period, and for these new rules that period began on May 24, 2016. [Read more…]

Daily Journal Selects Daniel Hutchinson for 2016 Top 40 Under 40 List

Daily Journal Selects Daniel Hutchinson for 2016 Top 40 Under 40 List

Lieff Cabraser partner Daniel M. Hutchinson has been named to the Daily Journal’s Top 40 Under 40 list for 2016 [subscription]. Mr. Hutchinson is one of 40 outstanding lawyers in California under the age of 40 honored with this prestigious recognition. [Read more…]

CFPB Rule Proposes to Modify Mandatory Arbitration Clauses in Favor of Consumers

CFPB Rule Proposes to Modify Mandatory Arbitration Clauses in Favor of Consumers

The Consumer Financial Protection Board (CFPB) has proposed a new rule that would modify mandatory arbitration clauses and, ultimately, restore consumers’ fundamental right to class action courtroom trials against financial institutions. In the new proposal, while financial institutions may still impose a requirement of having individual disputes handled by private arbitration, class action lawsuits are no longer forbidden. [Read more…]

New Rule from Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Would Restore Consumers’ Rights to Collective Action Against a Predatory Financial Industry

Banks Get Boot from Forced Arbitration

If the new Rule is approved, banks will no longer be able to use forced arbitration clauses to ban consumers from joining together in class action lawsuits, seen as most effective consumer option in fighting illegal practices

After an extensive new study that conclusively proved how unfair and destructive fine print “forced arbitration” clauses have been for consumers, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (“CFPB”) has issued a new rule forbidding banks from forcing consumers into non-trial unbalanced arbitration hearings as their only recourse when a bank has cheated them. If approved, this landmark rule will be a huge gain for consumers, who have been suffering from bank schemes and illegal manipulations without any real means to fight back. [Read more…]

Volkswagen Given Another Month to Develop Proposal to Fix 600,000 Dirty Diesel U.S. Engines

Volkswagen Given Another Month to Develop Proposal to Fix 600,000 Dirty Diesel U.S. Engines

U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer is giving German automaker Volkswagen an additional month to cultivate a proposal to fix its diesel vehicles that violate U.S. emissions standards. The car manufacturer failed to meet the judge’s initial deadline of March 24 to come up with a solution to fix the 600,000 U.S. diesel-powered VW, Audi, and Porsche vehicles still on the road.

[Read more…]

Plaintiff Class Seeks Certification in Facebook Message Scanning Privacy Lawsuit

Plaintiff Class Seeks Certification in Facebook Message Scanning Privacy Lawsuit

At a March 16 hearing, U.S. District Chief Judge Phyllis Hamilton heard arguments from user and company attorneys with regard to whether or not she should certify a class action against Facebook Inc. for claims of privacy violations. Plaintiffs accuse the social media giant of unlawfully scanning users’ personal and private direct messages without their consent to capture data on web links.

[Read more…]

War on Consumer Protection: How the Enforcement of Consumer Laws Falls Under Attack

War on Consumer Protection: How the Enforcement of Consumer Laws Falls Under Attack

As mandatory arbitration clauses become more prominent within company contracts, “attempts to protect businesses at the expense of consumers are underway,” according to an opinion piece by law professor Jeff Sovern published by USA Today. Consumer laws have historically been enforced in two ways – through the government and via lawmakers. [Read more…]

Hidden Arbitration Contract Clauses Restrain Consumers’ Constitutional Rights

Hidden Arbitration Clauses Restrain Constitutional Rights

A specter is haunting consumer contracts. In the last few years, there has been a veritable explosion of forced arbitration clauses thrust into contracts in industries ranging from banking to insurance, medical to retirement care. GrubHub food delivery service just updated their user agreement to force their customers into mandatory arbitration over any disputes that might arise as a result of their using the service to get Chicken Masala or local pizza. This routine addition to many companies’ dealings with customers has resulted in the deprivation of consumers’ basic constitutional rights, as these forced arbitration agreements require individuals to give up certain fundamental legal protections, including the right to a fair court trial in front of a neutral judge.

[Read more…]

Why VW Should Fear Elizabeth Cabraser

Why VW Should Fear Elizabeth Cabraser

German publication Die Zeit recently published an in-depth profile of Lieff Cabraser partner and co-founder Elizabeth J. Cabraser, newly appointed sole lead class counsel in charge of conducting the U.S. nationwide multi-district litigation on Volkswagen’s “clean diesel” emissions fraud. Chosen by U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer, Ms. Cabraser was one of more than 150 attorneys seeking lead roles in this litigation. The profile was then picked up and translated for English-language publication by Handelsblatt Global Edition.

[Read more…]

President Requests Additional Funds To Investigate Alleged For-Profit Education Fraud Against College Students, Taxpayers

For-Profit Education Fraud Against College Students

President Obama is requesting additional funding to bolster the government’s for-profit college investigative unit following increasing reports alleging that for-profit colleges are defrauding American students, U.S. taxpayers, and the federal government. As reported The Chronicle of Higher Education this week, the $13.6 million request, part of the annual budget proposal to be submitted to Congress next week, will boost the U.S. Department of Education’s Student Aid Enforcement Unit, which investigates alleged for-profit education schemes.

[Read more…]

Diesel Vehicles Buyback: Possible Solution to VW Emissions Scandal?

VW Diesel Emission Vehicles

During the January 21, 2016 hearing in San Francisco, it was calculated that the number of diesel vehicles in the U.S. affected by the Volkswagen emissions fraud amounted to a total of 575,000, higher than previous estimates. The German car manufacturer currently faces hundreds of class action lawsuits from consumers who were harmed by VW’s deception and fraud concerning deceptively “clean diesel” engines in their vehicles.

[Read more…]

Jonathan Selbin on the Volkswagen Audi Porsche Diesel Emissions Fraud Lawsuits

Jonathan Selbin Volkswagen Emissions Lawsuit and Consumer Rights

Law360 reviewed the landscape of 2016 consumer protection litigation, focusing in part on the Volkswagen diesel emissions fraud scandal and the more than 500 lawsuits filed on behalf of affected Volkswagen Porsche and Audi owners nationwide harmed by the company’s installation of scamming software designed to bypass federal emissions standards in its 2.0-liter diesel vehicles. [Read more…]