In the wake of the D.C. Circuit’s opinion vacating the Federal Communications Commission’s order interpreting the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), federal courts have disagreed on how to define an “automated telephone dialing system” (“autodialer”) under the statute. Judge Edmond E. Chang of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois recently stepped into the fray, holding in Gadelhak v. AT&T Service, Inc., that equipment qualifies as an autodialer only if it has the (present) capacity to generate numbers randomly or sequentially.
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On December 29, 2018, Google won summary judgment in Rivera v. Google, a privacy class action alleging violations of the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA). The case involved “face grouping,” a feature that enables Google Photos to automatically sort and group the photographs in a user’s private account based on visual similarities between

The Ninth Circuit recently denied a motion for rehearing en banc in Marks v. Crunch, leaving in place a Ninth Circuit decision that broadly defines “automated telephone dialing system” (“autodialer”) under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”). The decision conflicts with decisions from other circuits.  And in the New Year, the FCC is expected to issue its own new interpretation of the term “autodialer” under the TCPA. Amidst this uncertainty, companies should proceed cautiously when reaching consumers by phone or text, and should consider how to minimize risk with respect to the TCPA’s autodialer provisions.
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It’s been a busy year in consumer protection law and during this holiday season, we’re taking stock of the past year and looking ahead to what’s next.  In 2018, we saw many class actions related to pricing practices, scrutiny of Made in USA claims, continued growth in popularity and the evolution of influencers (

As consumers shift towards “organic,” “natural,” and “clean” foods for themselves and their families, they are also making similar purchasing decisions when it comes to pet food. However, as sales of “premium” pet food have increased in recent years, so has the number of consumer class action lawsuits filed against pet food manufacturers, specifically those involving claims that marketing and labeling pet foods as “natural” is false and misleading when they contain artificial ingredients, synthetic ingredients, chemicals, heavy metals, and/or toxins.
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A customer who is blind has sued Five Guys Enterprises in the Southern District of California, claiming that he could not access the Freestyle Coca-Cola soda machine in a Five Guys restaurant.  The parties each filed a motion for summary judgment on the issue of whether Five Guys violated the Americans with Disability Act (ADA), California’s Unruh Act and California’s Disabled Person Act (DPA) when its employees did not offer to help the customer use the soda machine.

Generally, the ADA, and California’s Unruh Act and the DPA require that public accommodations (like a restaurant) ensure that no individual is discriminated against on the basis of a disability.  Public accommodations are required to furnish appropriate auxiliary aids and services to ensure effective communication with individuals with disabilities.  Here, the plaintiff claimed that this meant Five Guys employees should have offered to help him operate the soda machine. 
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A California appeals court has allowed a putative-class-action complaint to proceed against an online retailer based on a consumer’s allegation that the retailer falsely advertised price discounts and that the consumer would not have purchased the items if he knew he was not receiving a discount.

In Hansen v. Newegg.com Americas Inc., Case No.

  • An increasing number of individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing are challenging the absence of closed captioning as a violation of the Americans with Disability Act (ADA).
  • Companies placing video on their websites should consider whether they need to include closed captioning under the ADA.

Computer Keyboard with Glasses

Website accessibility under the ADA continues to be

Because pricing discount and sales class actions are likely to continue and retailers, especially brick-and-mortar ones, may have difficulty enforcing arbitration agreements and class action waivers, companies will want to not only check the ways in which they draft and enforce arbitration agreements, but carefully monitor compliance with pricing laws.

The Tenth Circuit recently affirmed

Cy pres remedies … are a growing feature of class action settlements. … In a suitable case, this Court may need to clarify the limits of the use of such remedies.” Marek v. Lane, 134 S. Ct. 8, 9 (2013) (Roberts, C.J., respecting denial of certiorari).

In Marek, the U.S. Supreme Court denied cert in a case questioning the propriety of a cy pres award in a class action settlement. But Chief Justice Roberts suggested he might nevertheless be on the lookout for “an opportunity to address the more fundamental concerns surrounding the use of such [cy pres] remedies in class action litigation, including when, if ever, such relief should be considered; how to assess its fairness as a general matter; … what the respective roles of the judge and parties are in shaping a cy pres remedy; how closely the goals of any enlisted organization must correspond to the interests of the class; and so on.” Id.
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