Labor Issues in the Gig Economy: Federal Court Concludes That GrubHub Delivery Drivers are Independent Contractors under California Law

Forman_A_Main-large-headshot-photo-15242Sullivan_K_Main-large-headshot-photo-12239Guest Commentary

By Adam S. Forman, a Member in the Detroit, MI and Chicago, IL offices of Epstein Becker & Green, P.C., and Kevin D. Sullivan, an Associate in the firm’s Los Angeles, CA office.

Ed. Note: Cross-posted with permission from the Wage and Hour Defense Blog. Epstein Becker Members Nathaniel Glasser and Stuart Gerson authored a Washington Legal Foundation Legal Backgrounder in 2017 on this topic, ISO: Uniform, Transparent Regulatory Standard to Distinguish Independent Contractors from “Employees.”

Recently, a number of proposed class and collective action lawsuits have been filed on behalf of so-called “gig economy” workers, alleging that such workers have been misclassified as independent contractors. How these workers are classified is critical not only for workers seeking wage, injury and discrimination protections only available to employees, but also to employers desiring to avoid legal risks and costs conferred by employee status.  While a number of cases have been tried regarding other types of independent contractor arrangements (e.g., taxi drivers, insurance agents, etc.), few, if any, of these types of cases have made it through a trial on the merits—until now. Continue reading “Labor Issues in the Gig Economy: Federal Court Concludes That GrubHub Delivery Drivers are Independent Contractors under California Law”

Ninth Circuit Blows Limiting Principle on “Point Source” Out of Water with CWA Ruling

sboxermanFeatured Expert Column – Environmental Law and Policy

by Samuel B. Boxerman, Sidley Austin LLP with Ben Tannen, Sidley Austin LLP

In a recent decision in Hawai’i Wildlife Fund v. Cty. of Maui, Case No. 15-17447 (9th Cir. Feb. 1, 2018), the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit became the first federal circuit court of appeals to hold that discharges  through groundwater to waters of the United States fall within the Clean Water Act’s jurisdiction.  Depending on how other courts of appeals decide pending cases presenting similar issues, this case could be a seminal one, ushering in an era of expanded Clean Water Act permitting requirements and citizen suits.  Continue reading “Ninth Circuit Blows Limiting Principle on “Point Source” Out of Water with CWA Ruling”

When Assessing Burdens for Farmers, Other Landowners, White House Shouldn’t Duck Overhaul of Wetlands Regulatory Juggernaut

Lawrence KoganGuest Commentary

By Lawrence A. Kogan*

Last year, two WLF Legal Pulse posts (here and here) explored the federal government’s incremental expansion of control over privately owned agricultural property through the Clean Water Act (CWA) and the law’s hydra-like oversight of wetlands. Those commentaries presented one Erie, Pennsylvania farmer’s 30-year legal battle as a microcosm of how agenda-driven regulators can upset the balance between environmental protection and individual rights. Ironically, that balance empowers small and family-farmers’ contribution to another goal of green activists: sustainable local food production.

New information discovered from the legal battle against farmer Robert Brace reveals that his plight has been part of a broader, decades-long crusade led by a select group of environmental officials, with the active support of special-interest activists, to expand wetlands and challenge decisions by agriculture regulators. That campaign, and its success over the course of numerous presidential administrations, should not go unnoticed as the current regulatory reform effort, especially as it relates to “waters of the U.S.” (WOTUS), moves forward. Continue reading “When Assessing Burdens for Farmers, Other Landowners, White House Shouldn’t Duck Overhaul of Wetlands Regulatory Juggernaut”

District Courts Divide over Application of “Bristol-Myers Squibb” Decision to Class Actions

troyer_brian_240x470Guest Commentary

By Brian A. Troyer, a Partner with Thompson Hine LLP in its Cleveland, OH office.

In a September 8, 2017 Washington Legal Foundation Legal Backgrounder on Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. v. Superior Court of California, 137 S. Ct. 1773 (2017), I noted that it would remain to be determined how courts would apply it to nationwide and multistate class actions. An Illinois federal court recently became the latest to confront this issue, holding that it lacked jurisdiction over the defendant with respect to claims of nonresident class members, disagreeing with courts in California and Louisiana. The result is a clear split among district courts on the question, and the issue is likely to be brought to the U.S. Supreme Court if courts of appeal also reach opposite conclusions on such a fundamental question. Continue reading “District Courts Divide over Application of “Bristol-Myers Squibb” Decision to Class Actions”

WLF Briefing Delves into 2018 Legal, Regulatory Challenges for “Internet of Things” Technology

This interactive discussion was moderated by H. Michael O’Brien of Wilson Elser and featured Julie Kearney of the Consumer Technology Association, James Trilling of the Federal Trade Commission, and Courtney Stevens Young of Medmarc Insurance Group.

California Municipalities’ Climate-Change Litigation Against Energy Companies Takes a Surprising New Turn

Andrew-Varcoe-vert-1Guest Commentary

By Andrew R. Varcoe, Boyden Gray & Associates, PLLC*

In recent years, some environmentalists and their political allies have pursued aggressive lawsuits and investigations as part of an effort to change public policy on climate change. These activities include civil lawsuits that some California municipalities brought last year, seeking compensation from energy companies for the costs of responding to climate change.

Earlier this month, one of the private defendants in the California lawsuits fired back in a surprising way. On January 8, 2018, the Exxon Mobil Corporation (“Exxon”) filed a petition in a Texas state court to obtain pre-suit discovery against officials of the California localities and their legal counsel. Continue reading “California Municipalities’ Climate-Change Litigation Against Energy Companies Takes a Surprising New Turn”

On Issue of First Impression, Fifth Circuit Applies CAFA in Mass-Tort Cases to Deny Remand

Cruz-Alvarez_FFeatured Expert Contributor—Civil Justice/Class Actions

By Frank Cruz-Alvarez, a Partner with Shook, Hardy & Bacon L.L.P. in the firm’s Miami, FL office, with Erica E. McCabe, an Associate in the firm’s Kansas City, MO office.

On January 9, 2018, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, in the consolidated interlocutory appeals of Warren Lester, et al. and Shirley Bottley, et al., affirmed the district court’s decision denying the plaintiffs’ motions to remand their respective cases back to Louisiana state court.

Interpreting the Class Action Fairness Act of 2005 (CAFA) broadly, the Fifth Circuit majority confirmed that (1) a proposal for a joint trial of related state court cases triggers a “mass action” under CAFA, and (2) CAFA provides a basis for removal even when one of the underlying suits was filed before the law’s February 18, 2005, effective date. Lester, et al. v. Exxon Mobil Corp., et al., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 547 at *3–4 (5th Cir. Jan. 9, 2018). Continue reading “On Issue of First Impression, Fifth Circuit Applies CAFA in Mass-Tort Cases to Deny Remand”