Kean Miller LLP is pleased to announce the release of the ninth edition of the Practical Digest of Louisiana Class Action Decisions.  The digest is produced by Charles S. McCowan, Jr., Bradley C. Myers, Gerald E. Meunier (Gainsburgh, Benjamin, David, Meunier & Warshauer), and Thomas F. Daley (District Attorney of the 40th Judicial

Following a class action or mass joiner settlement certain funds are often unable to be distributed to individual class members.  Either class members do not come forward to file the necessary proof of claim to qualify for an allocation and distribution, the allowed claims do not equal the available settlement funds, reserves or allocations for

Electronic Discovery, or “E-Discovery”, is not considered the “novel issue” it once was. However, E-Discovery still presents problems that litigants and courts struggle with. Below is a summary of recent Louisiana Federal Court opinions dealing with the issues surrounding E-Discovery.

In Frees, Inc. v. McMillian, 2007 WL 184889 (W.D. La. Jan. 22, 2007), the Western District of Louisiana granted the plaintiff’s motion to compel. In an unfair competition and trade secret theft action, the plaintiff claimed that the defendant, a former employee, had stolen various data files. Plaintiff had unsuccessfully requested production of defendant’s laptop and desktop. The Court granted the motion to compel the defendant to produce these two items because they were the most likely places that the data files would be located. The Court did institute protective measures so as to prevent the disclosure of any irrelevant or personal information.Continue Reading Recent Developments in E-Discovery in Louisiana

The United States Supreme Court recently resolved conflicts among the Circuit Courts about the citizenship of a corporation for determining diversity of citizenship jurisdiction (1). This will allow corporations to analyze with more predictable results whether to remove a case to federal court. In Hertz Corp. v. Friend, et al, No. 08-1107 (February 23, 2010) (a unanimous decision, which is unusual in and of itself), the Court decided that when determining a corporation’s citizenship for diversity of citizenship jurisdiction, the “principal place of business” of the corporation is “the place where the corporation’s high level officers direct, control, and coordinate the corporation’s activities”—something that courts have referred to as the “nerve center” of the corporation.
Continue Reading Supreme Court Clarifies Definition of a Corporation’s “Principal Place of Business”

The Louisiana Legislature has adopted House Concurrent Resolution No. 185, authored by Representative Tim Burns.  The resolution urges and requests that the Department of Health and Hospitals and the Deptartment of Insurance, in consultation with the Louisiana State Licensing Board for Contractors, investigate the health risks associated with living in homes that contain drywall imported

In Burford v. Cargill, Incorporated, 2007 WL 81667 (W.D. La. 1/9/07), a class action brought on behalf of a putative class of all United States dairy farmers, plaintiffs sought a temporary restraining order from the district court to prevent the defendant from contacting putative class members to settle individual claims. The court has not yet determined whether a class should be certified.

Judge Hicks relied upon Gulf Oil Co. v. Bernard, 452 U.S. 89, 101 S.Ct. 2193, 68 L.Ed.2d 2193 (1981) in analyzing the issue. He first noted that such restraint required “specific findings that reflect a weighing of the need for a limitation and the potential interference with the rights of the parties.” The need for limitation, in turn, is to be based upon a “specific record showing by the moving party of …actual or threatened abuse by the party sought to be restrained.” Any relief granted must be “consistent with the policies of Rule 23 giving explicit consideration to the narrowest possible relief which would protect the respective parties.”Continue Reading Federal District Court Allows Defense Contact With Putative Class Members

The United States District Court for the Western District of Louisiana, Magistrate Judge Hayes, issued a ruling on February 27, 2006, denying remand in a case involving the Class Action Fairness Act of 2005 (“CAFA”). The case is Robinson v. Cheetah Transportation, 2006 WL 468820 (W.D. La. 2/27/06). As I am still somewhat unfamiliar with CAFA, I will examine its application here in a bit more detail than I might otherwise employ with, say, “meat and potatoes” issues like the potestative condition, the doctrine of renvoi, or stipulations pour autrui.

Cautionary note: the district court judge will review the magistrate’s ruling, if objected to, and an appeal could follow. The decision is far from final.

You should also be forewarned that, according to acronymfinder, there are thirty-two (32) different applications for the acronym “CAFA,” including the “Canadian Association of Freediving and Apnea.” But I digress.

On October 7, 2004, a tractor-trailer struck the Columbia bridge on the Ouachita River in Caldwell Parish. The bridge was closed (and I think it’s still closed). Plaintiff brought a class action on November 28, 2005, on behalf of “all persons and businesses that resided or worked in Caldwell Parish on October 7, 2004, and were affected by the closure of the Columbia bridge.” (Here’s a somewhat pensive related news blurb.) Among other consequences of the accident, the Louisiana Art and Folk Festival was cancelled.
Continue Reading Class Action Fairness Act of 2005 – Western District Ruling

Kean Miller is pleased to announce that 12 lawyers, formerly in the Admiralty & Maritime, Construction, and Energy practice areas with Lemle & Kelleher, LLP, have joined the firm in the New Orleans office.

“We are very excited to welcome these distinguished attorneys to our law firm. They are an outstanding resource for our clients. Our offices are located in Louisiana’s major port cities — New Orleans, Baton Rouge and Lake Charles — and this esteemed group brings over 150 years of combined experience in maritime issues, admiralty law, marine insurance, oil & gas, drilling and exploration, pipelines, construction, and energy law to our clients.” said Gary A. Bezet, managing partner of the 121-lawyer firm.
Continue Reading Kean Miller Adds 12 Attorneys in Admiralty & Maritime, Construction, and Energy Practice Groups – New Orleans Office Triples in Size

Reproduced with permission from Class Action Action Litigation Report, Vol. 6, No. 21, pp. 793-795 (Nov 11, 2005). Copyright 2005 by The Bureau of National Affairs, Inc. (800-372-1033). Katrina has already spawned a hurricane of lawsuits. These suits include: suits by individuals who claim they were injured by hazardous substances that leaked from storage facilities, refineries, or pipeline facilities; suits by individuals who claim that oilfield production and pipeline activities caused wetland damage that exacerbated the effects of hurricane Katrina; and suits by individuals who claim faulty levees caused the widespread flooding that followed in the days after Katrina made landfall. All of these suits have a common thread: each will require the courts to determine whether the damages sued upon resulted from nature’s fury or human blunder. Louisiana, like many other states, recognizes the general principle that an “act of God” can be a complete defense to liability for negligence and strict liability claims. Louisiana courts have generally used a consistent definition of the term “act of God,” but the application of that definition in the context of a specific event has not always been consistent or clear, particularly when the issue of contributing human fault is at play.
Continue Reading Nature’s Fury or Human Blunder? The ‘Act of God Defense’ in Louisiana

The past twenty years has seen a dramatic increase in the volume of mass tort and other forms of complex litigation. As the volume of litigation has grown, so too have the burdens on the judiciary and the litigants. To address this growing problem, it is imperative that modern adjudicatory tools be adopted to achieve the goal of securing the just, speedy, and inexpensive determination of every action. One such case management tool that has developed in the context of mass tort litigation – but that can be equally effective in other types of litigation – is the Lone Pine Order.
Continue Reading The Lone Pine Order As a Case Management Tool for Complex Litigation