Special Reports Coming to National Courts Monitor (NCM)

SPECIAL REPORTS: In the coming weeks, the National Courts Monitor (NCM) will be announcing a series of “special reports” focusing on some of today’s most urgent civil litigation issues. Similar to the print-edition special reports that helped launch the website in California (as the California Courts Monitor) more than a decade ago, the reports from across the country will include original reporting and production from the NCM while also showcasing investigative and writing from partner organizations. Watch this space for more information, and we are making this announcement now because our reporters and video producers are now in the field conducting the background research necessary for multi-media reporting on issues including environmental lawsuits, immigration issues and, of course, the rationing of civil justice in America.

– THE EDITORS

No statute of limitations for one year for sexual abuse cases in New York

Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the Child Victims Act on Feb. 14, 2019 which extended the statute of limitations on child sexual abuse filings for one year. Photo credit: AP Photo/Seth Wenig as reported by the Brooklyn Daily Eagle on 8/14/19.

Beginning today in New York, there will be no statute of limitations to prevent filing child sexual abuse lawsuits against alleged perpetrators, no matter how long ago it occurred, for up to a year.

According to the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, “This so-called ‘look-back window’ is part of the Child Victims Act, which extended the statute of limitations for both criminal and civil lawsuits when it was signed into New York State law by Gov. Andrew Cuomo in February. The bill had floundered in the State Senate for over a decade, blocked by Republican representatives. But after Democrats took majority control in January, it quickly arrived on the Assembly floor and passed by a resounding 130-3 vote.”

The report explains, “The Child Victims Act now allows prosecutors to bring criminal charges against an alleged sexual abuse offender until an accuser turns 28, and alleged victims can also now file a civil lawsuit any time before they reach 55 years of age. Previously, child sexual abuse offenses could only be prosecuted within five years of their occurrence, and civil lawsuits could only be filed prior to an alleged victim’s 21st birthday.”

Four other states – California, Hawaii, Minnesota, and Delaware — have extended the statute of limitations for child sexual abuse cases.

Cannabis the focus of new law practice

A Los Angeles-based law partner from a prominent firm is launching a cannabis-centered practice, a signal that marijuana has become big business.

“Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan is formally launching a cannabis practice in the latest sign that Big Law views this once-illicit market as a serious growth opportunity,” reported Bloomberg Law’s Big Law Business.

The practice will draw on the expertise of more than 12 partners from six offices, the site explained.

“At least a dozen other large law firms have launched cannabis industry practices with cannabis now legal for recreational use in 11 states and the District of Columbia. The firm said another 33 states permit its use for medical purposes,” Big Law Business reported.

Some analysts predict that the marijuana market will grow to $75 billion in the next 21 years, the article noted.

Judge challenges contract attorney fees in Wells Fargo case

Judge Jon Tigar, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California (Photo credit: Jason Doiy/ALM as published on law.com)

A California judge has questioned contract attorney fees in a high-profile class action settlement involving Wells Fargo & Co.

Judge Jon Tigar, of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, challenged the fees, which were about nine times higher than the attorney’s rate, according to a report by The Recorder at law.com.

Disputes over $68 million in attorney fees in a $240 million class action settlement against Wells Fargo & Co. have spurred a federal judge to consider setting new precedents for contract lawyer fees,” The Recorder noted.

Judge Tigar reviewed a motion for attorney fees filed by San Francisco’s Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein. The case involved a settlement with Wells Fargo shareholders over the “widespread opening of unauthorized accounts to reach sales quotas and artificially inflate the company’s stock,” The Recorder reported.

“The judge thanked Ted Frank of the Hamilton Lincoln Law Institute’s Center for Class Action Fairness for raising the issue in his motion opposing the attorney fees,” the site noted. “Frank pointed out that the co-lead counsel paid contract attorneys between $40 and $50 an hour but requested about $415 an hour to cover their investment.”

In politically charged case, appeals court hears Affordable Care Act challenge

Photo Credit:Annie Flanagan for The New York Times as published in their report on 7/9/19.

The fate of the Affordable Care Act — commonly known as ObamaCare — rests with a federal appeals court, in a judicial standoff that could affect the 2020 presidential election.

The New York Times reports, “A panel of federal appeals court judges on Tuesday sounded likely to uphold a lower-court ruling that a central provision of the Affordable Care Act — the requirement that most people have health insurance — is unconstitutional. But it was harder to discern how the court might come down on a much bigger question: whether the rest of the sprawling health law must fall if the insurance mandate does.”

Yet as the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans ponders a ruling, the lawsuit could affect next year’s presidential election, The Hill.com reports.

“The lawsuit has proved to be a headache for congressional Republicans seeking to turn the page on their efforts to repeal ObamaCare after the issue helped Democrats win back the House in last year’s midterm elections,” The Hill.com reports.

“If the case makes it to the Supreme Court, the decision would likely be handed down in June 2020, dropping a bomb in the center of the presidential election.”

The health care law has weathered legal challenges since the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the mandate in 2012.

“If the mandate is indeed unconstitutional, the next question is whether the rest of the Affordable Care Act can function without it. In December,” The New York Times reports. “Judge Reed O’Connor of the Federal District Court in Fort Worth said it could not and declared that the entire law must fall.”

 

Allergan recalls textured breast implants due to cancer link

Photo Credit: BROKER, via Alamy, as originally reported by The New York Times on 7/24/19.

Global pharmaceutical company Allergan has announced a voluntary worldwide recall of Biocell textured breast implants and tissue expanders due to links to an unusual form of cancer.

The July 24 recall, made in the United States at the request of the federal Food and Drug Administration, affects implants used for cosmetic breast enlargement and for reconstruction after mastectomy for breast cancer, The New York Times reported.

“Worldwide, 573 cases and 33 deaths from the cancer have been reported, with 481 of the cases clearly attributed to Allergan Biocell implants, the F.D.A. said. Of the 33 deaths, the agency said its data showed that the type of implant was known in 13 cases, and in 12 of those cases the maker was Allergan,” The New York Times reported.

In Europe, the Allergan devices were banned late last year.

Shareholders sued Allergan late last year, as a proposed class action lawsuit in Manhattan federal court accused the company of hiding from investors the link between its textured breast implants and the rare form of cancer, Reuters reported.

The December 2018 lawsuit followed an announcement by Allergan that it would take its textured breast implants off the market in Europe after a Dec. 18 recall order, Reuters reported.

Today, lawyers are advertising for plaintiffs.