In an opinion yesterday, Judge Broderick dismissed a putative class action brought by former participants in the Catholic Church’s Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Programs who had accepted settlements relating to childhood sex abuse claims. The plaintiffs sought to undo the settlements on the theory that the settlement amounts were fraudulently induced, insofar as they were not determined “independently” but instead were the product of interference from the Church itself and subject to an undisclosed cap of $500,000.

Judge Broderick found that the factual allegations supporting these theories, which had been pleaded as based only on “information and belief,” was insufficient: Continue Reading Judge Broderick: Participants in Catholic Church’s “Reconciliation” Program Cannot Unwind Settlements

In an opinion Monday, Judge Kaplan ruled that a plaintiff accusing actor Kevin Spacey of sexual assault could not proceed anonymously. Judge Kaplan began the opinion by observing that the privacy of litigants has changed in the “digital age”:

The days when court records of litigation largely escaped public notice as they languished in countless file rooms largely ended with the advent of electronic case files, the internet, search engines, and other aspects of the information age. And the loss of the earlier practical obscurity of court files no doubt is compounded when a litigant . . .  brings a claim against someone in the public eye, especially if the substance of the claim makes it likely to attract significant media attention.

But the threat of significant media attention – however exacerbated by the modern era – alone does not entitle a plaintiff to the exceptional remedy of anonymity . . . .

Judge Kaplan ultimately found that the prejudice to Spacey outweighed the plaintiff’s interest in anonymity: Continue Reading Judge Kaplan: Kevin Spacey Accuser Cannot Sue Anonymously

Last week, the maker of White Claw filed a new complaint for trade infringement against the maker of “MIXX,” a forthcoming canned cocktail that will sold in some of the same stores as “MXD,” a line of canned cocktails made by the maker of White Claw.  According to the complaint, consumer confusion is particularly likely given the similar names for these products: Continue Reading Maker of White Claw Files Trade Infringement Claim to Stop Competitor’s New Canned Cocktail

In an opinion Wednesday, Judge Vyskocil dismissed, on personal jurisdiction grounds, a trademark case against various websites selling counterfeit American Girl products from China. Judge Vyskocil found that American Girl could not meet its burden to show conduct directed at New York. The court was “unconvinced that a Defendant simply owning a website that is ‘accessible’ from New York is enough to find that it transacts business here,” where it appeared that the websites deliberately avoided doing business in the state:

Continue Reading Judge Vyskocil: Online Seller of Knock-Off American Girl Products Cannot Be Sued in New York Because Of Apparent Policy Against U.S. Sales

Judge Gardephe last week ruled that the non-disclosure and non-disparagement clauses found in the employment agreements for Donald Trump’s 2020 presidential campaign were void and unenforceable.  The action originally arose when the Trump campaign commenced an arbitration proceeding against a former staffer, claiming that she had breached the non-disclosure and non-disparagement clauses by filing a complaint alleging sex discrimination claims in New York state court.  The present complaint was brought as a putative class action by former employees of the campaign, who sought a declaration that these provisions of the employment agreement were unenforceable.

Judge Gardephe granted the plaintiffs’ motion for summary judgment, and focused on the breadth of the non-disclosure provision as a basis for finding it unenforceable: Continue Reading Judge Gardephe: Trump Campaign NDAs Are Unenforceable

Last week, Judge Daniels dismissed a putative class action against NYU over its decision to conduct classes remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic.  He concluded the plaintiff could not identify any actual promise or agreement by which NYU stated its classes would be held in person: Continue Reading Judge Daniels: NYU’s Remote Learning During the Pandemic Is Not a Contract Breach Because NYU Never Clearly Promised In-Person Classes

In an opinion yesterday, Judge Cronan refused to dismiss a case under New York’s consumer fraud statute alleging that the “Smokehouse” almonds (depicted below) were marketed in a misleading fashion because allegedly they are not actually prepared via smoking.

 

The defendant argued that “Smokehouse” refers to the flavoring only, but Judge Cronan concluded that, while a “close call,” the allegations were enough to survive the motion: Continue Reading In “Close Call,” Judge Cronan Allows Consumer Fraud Claims to Proceed Over “Smokehouse” Branded Almonds that Are Not Actually Smoked

Based on various orders recently appearing on the dockets, it appears that in-person civil jury trials will begin in May, under a centralized calendaring system. One typical order explains as follows:

The Southern District of New York has reconfigured courtrooms and other spaces in its courthouses to allow civil jury trials to proceed as safely as possible during the COVID-19 pandemic. Under the centralized calendaring system currently in place, the Clerk’s Office schedules up to three jury trials to begin on each day of jury selection: a primary case and up to two back-up cases that may proceed in its place if the primary case does not go forward.

Other examples of similar orders are here and here.