In an opinion today in a securities fraud case, Judge Engelmayer denied a class certification motion that was based on a somewhat novel theory:  the plaintiffs allege that insiders of a company called SmartHeat publicly touted a “lockup” restricting their ability to sell shares, but then secretly “unlocked” those shares, thereby causing extra shares to flood the market and depress prices. He ruled that there was insufficient evidence of the plaintiffs’ theorized cause and effect:
Continue Reading Judge Engelmayer Rejects Class Certification Premised on Extra Shares Being “Secretly” Available and Depressing Price

In an opinion issued today, Judge Engelmayer dismissed defamation and false-light invasion of privacy claims brought against a law professor who wrote a law review article (and gave a related lecture) about sexual discrimination in the workplace.  The article and lecture by Professor Zachary Kramer, titled “Of Meat and Manhood,” discussed problems with courts’ treatment of gender stereotyping claims.  The author used as a case study a lawsuit that accused a managing director of Credit Agricole named Robert Catalanello of workplace discrimination for harassing a vegetarian employee on the assumption that he was gay. After Kramer published the article, the employee, Ryan Pacifico, dropped the discrimination claim against Catalanello.  Catalanello sued Kramer for defamation and false-light invasion of privacy.  Judge Engelmayer dismissed the defamation claims as protected by the fair-report privilege or non-actionable opinion under New Jersey law:
Continue Reading Judge Engelmayer Rules that Law Review Article Discussing Dismissed Allegations of Discrimination Is Not Defamation

Judge Engelmayer issued an opinion yesterday resolving several motions in limine relating to an upcoming trial concerning the Beastie Boys’ suit accusing the makers of Monster Energy drinks of using Beastie Boys songs in promotional videos without authorization. Judge Engelmayer largely denied the Beastie Boys’ motion to exclude the testimony of Erich Joachimsthaler, a branding expert, who proposed to testify that the videos would not leave viewers with a lasting association between the Beastie Boys and Monster. He found that the testimony was “potentially relevant to the Beastie Boys’ actual damages” because “damages to the Beastie Boys would arguably be little, if any, if viewers would neither remember the Video nor retain from it an association between the Beastie Boys and Monster.” However, Judge Engelmayer was careful to limit the testimony to issues of damages, not liability:
Continue Reading In Beastie Boys Case, Judge Engelmayer Limits Lanham Act Damages to Cases of Willful Violations or Actual Confusion; Excludes Expert Testimony Failing “Laugh Test”

In an opinion today, Judge Engelmayer granted in part and denied in part the summary judgment motion of SESAC, a company that, similar to BMI and ASCAP, offers the blanket music licenses that allow TV stations to broadcast programs that contain copyrighted music.  The TV station plaintiffs allege that the SESAC charges exorbitant prices for “all or nothing” licenses. Judge Engelmayer rejected the plaintiffs’ claims that there was an unlawful conspiracy among the over 20,000 composers and musicians (referred to as “affiliates”) who licensed their music through SESAC, but held that the plaintiffs’ claims could proceed regarding the smaller subset of affiliates who, in exchange for large upfront payments, signed “supplemental” agreements that would discourage them from directly licensing their works.  These affiliates were  generally the “key” composers whose music was too ubiquitous for TV stations to avoid.  As Judge Engelmayer explained:
Continue Reading In Antitrust Challenge to Blanket Music License Program, Judge Engelmayer Allows Narrowed Claims to Proceed

The New York City transit system offers residents of Staten Island, the Rockaways, and Broad Channel discounts on the tolls they pay to cross their local bridges, and, in an opinion yesterday, Judge Engelmayer rejected various constitutional challenges to the policy from commuters who don’t get the discounts.  For example, he concluded that the policy did not discriminate against interstate commerce:
Continue Reading Judge Engelmayer Rejects Challenge to New York City Discounting Tolls For Certain Residents

In an opinion issued today, Judge Engelmayer dismissed a putative class action lawsuit brought against rating agency Standard & Poor’s for allegedly fraudulent misstatements contained in its ratings of Fannie Mae preferred stock. The plaintiffs had alleged that S&P’s high ratings of the stock had induced them to buy. Judge Engelmayer dismissed the plaintiffs’ state law securities fraud, common law fraud and negligent misrepresentation claims under SLUSA.
Continue Reading Judge Engelemayer Dismisses Putative Class Action Against S&P on SLUSA, Other Grounds