A selection of the need-to-know civil justice news for the week of Nov. 15-21.


How Puffery Can Blow Up Into False Advertising Litigation

Peter E. Masaitis and Evan W. Woolley | Corporate Counsel

In September on CorpCounsel.com we wrote about the particularly dire consequences of making advertising claims supposedly supported by surveys, studies or clinical proof, when in fact proof was lacking. As we reported, the makers of 5-Hour Energy felt the sting of multistate lawsuits filed by attorneys general targeting “scientific” but allegedly unsupported claims of efficacy. More recent headlines reveal that Red Bull GmbH agreed to a $13 million settlement because its product doesn’t actually “give you wings” and that the Dr. Pepper Snapple Group was targeted with class action suits because its Snapple beverages were not actually made from “the best stuff on earth.” These developments might give you the impression that even puffery-based advertising is susceptible to false advertising suits.

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Woman Suing Owner Of Dog Killed By Her Dogs For $1 Million 

Joe Patrice | Above the Law

Check out the brass on this lady. After her four pit bulls snuck through the fence and massacred the neighbor’s dog, she has the chutzpah to file a lawsuit against the owner of the deceased canine. For $1 million. Like, in American money. There’s “blaming the victim” and then there’s, “ladies and gentlemen of the jury, the real question is ‘why did his head get in the way of my client’s bullet?’”

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7th Circ. Slams ‘Selfish’ $6.5M Deal In Supplement Suit

Caroline Simson | Law360

The Seventh Circuit on Wednesday shot down a “selfish” $6.5 million settlement negotiated by NBTY Inc. in a glucosamine supplement false labeling class action, saying the settlement was apparently contrived to ensure “meager” benefits to class members and maximum fees to attorneys.

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Does Your Unscented Deodorant Smell? Lawsuit Says It Does

Mitch Lipka | Daily Finance

A recent class-action lawsuit accuses some of the biggest names in the deodorant business of selling deodorants as “unscented” when they really had a fragrance.

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$186 Million AutoZone Verdict is Eye-Opening, but Unlikely to Stick

Jacob Gershman | Wall Street Journal

A California jury this week awarded a woman an eye-opening $186 million in damages in an employment discrimination case against AutoZone Inc.

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Feeling Lucky? Maybe It’s Time To Invest In Somebody Else’s Lawsuit

Daniel Fisher | Forbes

Jay Greenberg thought he knew a bit about capital markets, having run the numbers for several multibillion-dollar deals at Deutsche Bank  including SAP ’s $5.8 billion acquisition of Sybase in 2010. Then somebody told him about litigation finance, an estimated $1 billion market where investors bet on the outcome of corporate lawsuits. Hedge funds have been doing it for years, and there are even a couple of public companies that invest in litigation, including London’s Burford Capital. But it was the returns that caught Greenberg’s attention: 50% or more per year, better than just about any hedge-fund strategy short of insider trading.

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Can Someone ‘Win’ a Lawsuit without Suffering Injury?

Quin Hillyer | National Review

From the “Nice Work If You Can Get It” Department: Being paid $100,000-plus for damages from an accident, even if neither you nor anything you own was actually damaged.

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Woman is in Hot Water Over Spilled-Coffee Claim Against McDonald’s

Martha Neil | ABA Journal

A California woman is facing a felony insurance fraud case after being accused of falsely claiming that she was burned when the lid came off a cup of hot coffee at a fast food restaurant drive-thru in Fontana.

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Reglan Failure-To-Warn Claims Not Preempted, NJ Court Says

Martin Bricketto | Law360

The New Jersey Appellate Division preserved patients’ allegations that manufacturers of generic Reglan failed to adequately warn about neurological risks because the companies dragged their feet in updating the digestion medication’s labeling, ruling Wednesday that federal law doesn’t preempt the claims.

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Christie’s Presidential Hopes May Mean No AG Nomination

Michael Booth | New Jersey Law Journal

Republican New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s nominee for attorney general, if he chooses to name one, will likely face tough questioning about the administration’s decision to defer the defense of the state’s gun-control laws to a county prosecutor.

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