Access to Justice Cases
Millions of consumers and employees can no longer hold corporations liable for injury because of a series of recent Supreme Court opinions eliminating plaintiffs’ rights on grounds of federal pre-emption, arbitration clauses, and class action bans. Four cases this term ask the Court to further immunize corporations from accountability. The California whistleblower and consumer lawyers at Evans Law Firm support complete access to justice for injured consumers and employees and hope the Court resists efforts by corporations to immunize themselves from accountability.
The four cases to watch are:
- New Prime v. Oliveira: In this case a group of truck drivers alleges a national trucking company cheated them by forcing them to work at apprentice/trainee levels that pay less than minimum wage. The company says the suit is barred by a mandatory arbitration clause in the drivers’ contracts that bans class actions. Plaintiffs contend that they are exempt from mandatory arbitration under an applicable federal law.
- Henry Schein v. Archer and White Sales: Plaintiffs sued a dental equipment manufacturer for violating antitrust laws and terminating Plaintiff’s distributorship agreement. The manufacturer moved to compel arbitration arguing that the arbitration clause delegates even the issue of whether arbitration is mandatory to an arbitrator. The Fifth Circuit found defendant’s motion “wholly groundless” but defendants appealed arguing that the delegation clause must be enforced even where the motion to compel arbitration is “wholly groundless.”
- Lamps Plus v. Varela: This is a class action against Lamps Plus for giving a criminal access to income and tax withholding statements of 1300 employees. The company claims the mandatory arbitration clause in its employment agreement bars class actions. The district court granted the motion to compel arbitration but held that Plaintiff could pursue a class action in arbitration under California law because the clause was ambiguous on the class action issue. The Ninth Circuit affirmed and the company took the case to the Supreme Court. The employer asks the Court to create new substantive federal law precluding class actions in arbitration unless agreements “clearly and unmistakably” authorize them.
- Frank v. Gaos: This is a challenge to a proposed class action settlement alleging Google violated the law by sharing 129 million users’ search terms with third parties. The settlement provides injunctive relief and requires Google to pay $8.5 million as a cy pres (“as near as possible”) award to nonprofits for internet privacy. Petitioners claim the cy pres award is improper and the money must be delivered to class members by lottery or to the inevitably small number of class members who respond to a claims process. The settling parties maintain the cy pres award is the only feasible alternative and that in reality if the class is not certified class members will not litigate individually and Google will pay nothing.
Each of these cases is different but all involve access to justice by injured consumers and employees or the availability of class action lawsuits to secure that justice. Arbitration and class action restrictions bar access to justice for millions of aggrieved consumers by making the path to justice too costly and burdensome. Such restrictions allow corporations to avoid accountability for wrongful conduct. We will see what the Court does.
If you or a loved one has been a victim of any kind of consumer fraud or misrepresentation or securities fraud or misrepresentation or have a whistleblower case for false claims or securities fraud or other misconduct by an employer or corporation, contact Ingrid M. Evans and the other California whistleblower and consumer attorneys at Evans Law Firm today at (415) 441-8669, or by email at <a href=”mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org”>email@example.com</a>. Our attorneys have experience with securities and financial fraud, annuity and insurance fraud and statutory violations by large insurance companies. We can help guide your case through a jury trial, or toward an equitable settlement. We also handle cases involving physical and financial elder abuse, qui tam and whistleblower law, nursing home abuse, whole life insurance and universal life insurance, and indexed, variable, and fixed annuities.
 Evans Law Firm, Inc. is not involved in the cases discussed here but does have a pending False Claims Act whistleblower case before the Court.