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May 2016

California Supreme Court to Hear Drug Company Challenge to Personal Jurisdiction

One of the first things I learned in law school was that a corporation’s “continuous and systematic” economic activities in a particular state were sufficient to subject the company to personal jurisdiction in that state. That’s what the U.S. Supreme Court held way back in 1945. And that that remained essentially undisturbed for over 70 years. In 2014, however, the Supreme Court gave corporations a brand-new defense that they are now employing with great gusto in courts across the country. Public Justice is challenging that in a newly filed amicus brief, taking on corporations that are attempting to limit injured plaintiffs’ access to justice by advocating a narrow reading of Supreme Court precedent to effectively deny injury victims access to state courts.

U.S. Supreme Court Affirms Privacy Rights in ‘Spokeo’ Decision

Corporations took a shot at gutting America’s privacy laws, and they missed. The U.S. Supreme has found that consumers can bring claims for statutory damages (where Congress says that if a corporation breaks some law, it must pay a fixed sum, even if the claims are hard to prove), even if the consumer has not lost money or suffered a personal injury. In doing so, they rejected several arguments from corporate America that would have closed the courthouse doors to consumers.

Eighth Circuit Tells Employer It Can’t Change Rules of the Game Halfway Through

Richard Messina signed a contract to work for two years as Vice President of Sales for North Central Distributing, a company that sells home décor and furniture under the name Yosemite Home Decor. When Yosemite fired him after six months, Mr. Messina filed a lawsuit for wrongful termination in Minnesota state court. But when the district court in Minnesota denied its transfer motion—voila! New rule! Yosemite announced for the first time that Mr. Messina had also signed an arbitration agreement and that the case actually could not continue in court at all and had to be decided by a private arbitrator instead.