Attorney Spotlight: Katrina Carroll

Spotlight: Katrina Carroll

Attorney Spotlight: Katrina Carroll

Q&A WITH KATRINA

Why did you become a lawyer?

In my family, I had two career options: doctor or lawyer. I chose to become a lawyer because I wasn’t very good at math. In all seriousness, I became a lawyer because I am a person of principle and think it’s important to protect those who are underrepresented or not represented at all when they’ve been wronged. Every person deserves her day in court.

Favorite thing to do on the weekend?

I love cooking and entertaining and you’ll usually find me concocting something in my kitchen and feeding someone.

What are 3 things you couldn’t survive without?

According to my kids: coffee, Gibsons’ steaks (rare!) and my yoga mat (to counterbalance those rare steaks)

Favorite Musician or Band?

I listen to all different kinds of music. Some of my favorites are Maroon 5, Beyoncé, Panic at the Disco and Bon Jovi. Right now, I think Lizzo really gets me.

Most memorable court room experience?

There are so many! I’d probably have to say the most memorable was winning a critical motion in a class action where I represented women suing a drug company over failed fertility treatments. That win marked a turning point in the case which was ultimately resolved favorably.

Katrina's Profile

Carlson Lynch Wins Consumer Standing Appeal in Ninth Circuit

Carlson Lynch attorneys Jamisen Etzel and Kelly Iverson won a significant consumer rights ruling earlier this year from the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. The appeals court held in a published decision that the temporary loss of money is a sufficient “injury-in-fact” under Article III of the Constitution to confer standing on a consumer to file a federal lawsuit.

In the case, called Van v. LLR, Inc., Carlson Lynch and its client brought suit against the clothing company LuLaRoe, alleging it had improperly overcharged Ms. Van and a class of similarly situated Alaska residents by including a “tax” on its invoices, where the purchases should have been tax free. After being sued by Carlson Lynch and certain of its clients, but before Ms. Van’s suit was filed, LuLaRoe began refunding the improper charges directly to customer credit card accounts. Those refunds, however, did not credit its customers for all of their damages, nor did it pay compensation for the customers’ lost time value of their money.

The federal district court in Alaska, where Van’s suit was filed, dismissed the case based on lack of subject matter jurisdiction after finding that the consumers’ lost time value of money was “too little” to be a constitutionally recognizable harm conferring standing to sue. Carlson Lynch appealed that decision, arguing that there is no minimum monetary loss threshold required to obtain standing, and that federal courts traditionally recognize invasions of a person’s possessory interests and the lost time value of money as concrete injuries under the Constitution.

The Ninth Circuit held oral argument on June 3, 2020, and Jamisen Etzel argued on behalf of Ms. Van. The appellate panel agreed with Carlson Lynch’s position, and on June 24, 2020 reversed the lower court, finding that “[f]or standing purposes, a loss of even a small amount of money is ordinarily an ‘injury,’” and that “the temporary loss of use of one’s money constitutes an injury in fact for purposes of Article III.”

The decision is an important one for consumers because it confirms that they may go to court and obtain interest or other compensation when their money has been improperly held by others for significant periods of time.

You can read the full opinion at this link.  The judges of the Ninth Circuit panel were Morgan Christen, Paul J. Watford, and Bridget S. Bade. Jamisen Etzel led the appellate briefing and oral argument. Kelly Iverson assisted in the appeal and serves as lead counsel in Carlson Lynch’s cases against LuLaRoe.


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Judge Appoints ‘Team of Rivals’ to Lead TikTok Privacy Class Action Lawsuits

Katrina Carroll Waist UpOn Monday, a federal judge appointed lawyers to lead the privacy class actions against TikTok who previously accused each other of mishandling the litigation. They include co-lead counsel Ekwan How of Bird Marella and Katrina Carroll of Carlson Lynch.

A Chicago federal judge has named a leadership group for privacy class actions against TikTok, in the wake of a selection process that often featured infighting among plaintiffs counsel.

Two groups of plaintiffs lawyers battled over leadership of the multi district litigation — about 20 class actions sent last month to U.S. District Judge John Lee of the Northern District of Illinois. One group, led by Katrina Carroll, of Carlson Lynch in Chicago, and Jonathan Jagher of Freed Kanner London & Millen in Conshohocken, Pennsylvania, insisted they had reached a confidential settlement of the cases last month. The other, led by Megan Jones, a San Francisco partner at Hausfeld, and Ekwan Rhow of Los Angeles-based Bird, Marella, Boxer, Wolpert, Nessim, Drooks, Lincenberg & Rhow, raised concerns about the negotiations, in which they did not participate.

On Monday, Lee appointed How and Carroll as co-lead counsel, along with Elizabeth Fegan, of FeganScott, who supported Carroll’s group.

Lee, who previously has cautioned lawyers to work together and include all parties in settlement negotiations, did so again in his leadership order.

“The court anticipates that the plaintiffs’ leadership group will work by consensus and that plaintiffs’ counsel in particular will do everything possible to facilitate a consensus decision-making process,” Lee wrote. “It also is worth emphasizing that cooperation by and among all members of the plaintiffs’ leadership group is essential for the orderly and efficient resolution of this MDL.”

He ordered lead counsel to submit a proposal by Oct. 9 on how they plan to work together, with a status report due Oct. 30 that includes updates on the proposed settlement.

He set a virtual hearing for Nov. 4.

Carroll, in an email, said, “I look forward to proceeding in a coordinated effort for the benefit of our clients and the class.” How did not respond to a request for comment.

The defendant, TikTok Inc., is the developer of a popular app for creating short form videos on mobile devices. It got a reprieve from being banned in the United States on Sunday.

The battle for class action leadership comes as President Donald Trump, citing national security concerns, issued orders last month, one of which threatened to limit new downloads of TikTok in the United States by Sept. 20, later extended to Sept. 27, if it did not reach a real with a U.S. company.

TikTok, whose Chinese-based parent ByteDance announced plans to sell its U.S. operations to Oracle and Walmart, countered with its own lawsuit against the U.S. government. In that case, a federal judge in the District of Columbia struck down Trump’s order. The order, unsealed on Monday, found the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, cited in Trump’s order, exempted “informational materials” and “Personal communication” with no economic value, both of which are largely TikTok’s content.

In a related case, a federal judge in Pennsylvania on Sept. 26 rejected a motion for temporary restraining order brought by three TikTok users challenging trump’s order on constitutional grounds.

The fight among the lawyers in the privacy cases adds another unusual twist for TikTok. Those cases allege the video sharing app did not inform users, who include minors, that it was collecting their biometric data, in violation of the Illinois Biometric Privacy Act, which provides statutory damages between $1,000 and $5,000 per violation, as well as other computer and privacy laws.

Problems among the lawyers surfaced a few months before Aug. 4, when the U.S. Judicial Panel Multidistrict Litigation sent the cases to Lee’s courtroom.

Days after the transfer of the cases, TikTok and Carroll’s group informed Lee in an Aug. 16 joint status report that they had reached a class action settlement “in principle” following a mediation three days earlier. The settlement, which they anticipated filing in court Oct. 26 for preliminary approval, must remain confidential, they wrote, because of TikTok’s sale discussions.

The settlement didn’t involve everyone. Carroll, in her Sept. 8 for leadership, insisted that Rhow’s group, despite having conducted their own failed mediation talks with TikTok on April 6, refused to participate in the negotiations last month.

In her leadership application papers, she cautioned that a “forced marriage” with Rhow’s team “could derail the settlement and irreparably harm the class.”

Rhow, in court papers, has countered that TikTok chose to settle with a preferred group of plaintiffs lawyers, who shut his group out of negotiations. He insisted that TikTok had prohibited him from attending the mediation and, since then, has kept the settlement a secret.

His group raised concerns about the impact that the “destruction of crucial evidence” under Trump’s executive orders and TikTok’s imminent sale would have on the privacy class actions.

TikTok, which continued to support the settlement, took the unusual step of getting involved in the fight, praising Carroll’s group, who had negotiated the deal, which criticizing Rhow’s group for “overaggressive and excessive pleadings, emergency motions, and attempts to sabotage the efforts of other parties to resolve the litigation.”

Monday’s order created a plaintiffs’ steering committee made up of lawyers in both groups. In Rhow’s group, Jones and Amanda Klevorn, of Burns Charest, joined the committee. Support Carroll’s group were Jagher; Michael Gervais, of Susman Godfrey; and Albert Chang, of Bottini & Bottini.

Lee also appointed Shannon McNulty, of Clifford Law Offices, who was part of Rhow’s group as liaison counsel.

At a Sept. 24 hearing, Lee insisted that putting the dueling lawyers together would prevent fights down the road.

“Some in their briefs suggest that the court need not go this route and characterized such an approach as a ‘forced marriage,” he said, according to the transcript. “Others referred to this as a ‘team of rivals.’ I, myself, rather than referring to it in those terms, would like to think of it as an all-star team of sorts or an Olympic team, made up of individuals from perhaps different individual teams, but who are asked to come together to pursue the interests of all of the plaintiffs as a whole in this litigation."


Attorney Spotlight: Nicholas Lange

Spotlight: Nicholas Lange

Attorney Spotlight: Nicholas Lange

Q&A WITH NICHOLAS

Why did you become a lawyer?

As cliché as it seems, I became a lawyer to help make the world a fair place. Seeing large entities get their way simply because they had more money or influence always irked me. This is something I try not to lose sight of, and it’s no coincidence that this problem is one that class action attorneys are uniquely qualified to solve.

What are three things you couldn’t survive without?

Spices, fancy beer, and mountains.

Favorite musician or band?

I’m always playing piano, so of course it’s piano music: Joe Hisaishi or Ludovico Einaudi. If I had to pick “normal” music: Death Cab for Cutie.

Favorite thing to do on the weekend?

Cooking! Or better yet, cooking with a real fire. Real fire and smoke just seem to make everything taste better, and who doesn’t love building fires?

Most memorable court room experience?

The first time I went back and forth with a judge as a young attorney and realized that they’re people, too. In law school, most of us saw judges at these transcendent figures who issued unquestionable decrees from above. The first time I went back and forth with one over a routine discovery motion, I remember thinking – wow, this is pretty neat; I can argue and reason with them just like I can with anyone else. The judge ended up changing his ruling and that moment just stuck with me.

Nicholas' Profile

Eddie Kim

Spotlight: Eddie Kim

Attorney Spotlight: Eddie Kim

Q&A WITH EDDIE

Why did you become a lawyer?

The primary reason that I became a lawyer is that I come from a non-English-speaking, blue-collar, immigrant family, and it became very evident to me that we needed someone in the family who had a better understanding of American institutions to help navigate through all of the things that life throws at you. As a natural offshoot of this intention was the appeal of helping others who are underdogs or need a voice, which led me to pursue public interest work and now consumer protection law.

What are three things you couldn’t survive without?

Nearby hiking trails in mountains and forests; late night eateries; guitar.

Favorite musician or band?

Radiohead and Led Zeppelin.

Favorite thing to do on the weekend?

I have recently gotten into learning to do a bit of cooking (not particularly well) and hosting group dinners.

Most memorable court room experience?

Participating in a trial against Wells Fargo challenging its unlawful overdraft fee practices that resulted in a verdict for a large class of customers. It was rewarding to see justice being accomplished and help effect change on a large scale that primarily helped people at lower income levels.

Eddie's Profile

Wawa convenience store in New Jersey

Federal Judge Turns to Class Action Veterans to Lead Wawa Data Breach Litigation

The leaders are set to handle three tranches of litigation: one brought by consumers, another from financial institutions, and the last involving employees.

Lawyers who’ve been involved in a range of class actions, from the Equifax and Capital One data breach cases to drug marketing litigation, have been selected to lead a mass action against the regional convenience store chain Wawa.

U.S. District Judge Gene Pratter of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania on June 12 selected nine attorneys from Pennsylvania and New York to act as co-lead, class and liaison counsel in the proposed class action lawsuit over the hack announced late last year that exposed payment card information from Wawa users at potentially all of the company’s locations. The leaders are set to handle three tranches of litigation: one brought by consumers, another from financial institutions, and the last involving employees.

Specifically, Pratter appointed Sherrie Savett of Berger Montague; Roberta Liebenberg of Fine, Kaplan and Black; Benjamin Johns of Chimicles Schwartz Kriner & Donaldson-Smith; and Linda Nussbaum of Nussbaum Law Group as interim co-lead counsel for the consumer class action cases.

For the lawsuits brought by financial institutions, the judge appointed Gary Lynch of Carlson Lynch; Christian Levis of Lowey Dannenberg; and Jeannine Kenney of Hausfeld as interim class counsel, with Mindee Reuben of Lite DePalma Greenberg also being appointed as interim liaison counsel for that group.

Pratter also appointed Donald Haviland of Haviland Hughes as interim class counsel for the employee plaintiffs.

According to Pratter, with the appointments, the attorneys are now tasked with developing and performing the discovery, coordinating meetings and calls, examining witnesses and acting as the primary point of contact between the parties and the court. Pratter also said the attorneys could apply for long-term leadership positions as well.

“The main criteria for such leadership will be willingness and availability to commit to a time-consuming project, ability to work cooperatively with others, professional experience in this type of litigation, and access to sufficient resources to prosecute the litigation in a timely manner,” Pratter said.

The appointment settles a dispute that had arisen between several firms over who should lead the class action.

In early January, Johns and Savett filed motions in the cases asking the court to consolidate the proposed class actions and have them appointed as lead counsel. The motions also asked the court to appoint attorneys from Ahdoot & Wolfson in Los Angeles; Federman & Sherwood in Oklahoma City; Philadelphia-based Kohn Swift & Graf; and New York-based firms Stull, Stull & Brody and Milberg Phillips Grossman.

Nussbaum, however, filed a response, saying the request by Johns and Savett was “premature” and that she also planned to move to be appointed lead counsel.

The first lawsuits over the data breach began to be filed Dec. 20—the day after Wawa’s CEO said in an open letter there had been a breach of the company card payment data. According to the letter, malware that had been active since March was discovered Dec. 10, and the company contained it by Dec. 12. The letter said the malware potentially exposed payment card information from customers at all Wawa locations, including credit and debit card numbers, expiration dates and names.

Attorneys said they appreciated being appointed to the position.

“We are pleased with the court’s order, and look forward to moving the case forward on behalf of the consumer plaintiffs,” Johns said.

In a statement published online, Kenney said, “I am honored to be serving with such talented co-counsel and look forward to obtaining relief  for credit unions and other financial institutions injured by this data breach.”

Lynch and Reuben both declined to comment and Savett, Liebenberg, Nussbam, Levis and Haviland did not return a call seeking comment.


CARLSON LYNCH NAMED LITIGATION DEPARTMENT OF THE YEAR BY THE
LEGAL INTELLIGENCER

The Legal Intelligencer is pleased to announce the 2020 Professional Excellence Award winners. We are delighted to highlight the great work and achievements across the full breadth of the Pennsylvania legal community.

Litigation Department of the Year (General)
Carlson Lynch, LLP

“We are honored to be selected as the Litigation Department of the Year by the Legal Intelligencer. Congratulations to our incredible team of attorneys and staff who continuously pursue justice for the men, women and children around the country.”  - Bruce Carlson and Gary Lynch

Read article online


Carlson Lynch Lawyers Group Shot

2020 SUPER LAWYERS' & RISING STARS' ANNOUNCED

Super Lawyers LogoEach year Super Lawyers recognizes select attorneys from more than 70 practice areas who have attained a high degree of peer recognition and professional achievement. We would like to congratulate Carlson Lynch Super Lawyers’ Gary Lynch, Katrina Carroll, Todd Carpenter and Ed Kilpela and Rising Stars’ Jamisen Etzel and Kyle Shamberg.

Carlson Lynch Group Photo

At Carlson Lynch, our team has been raising the level of discussion, debate and change towards justice in this country for more than thirty years.

“Our team fights for justice every day. We continue to be a voice for those who have been silenced. Congratulations to our team members selected as this year’s Super Lawyers* and Rising Stars** honorees.” -Bruce Carlson and Gary Lynch

Pictured from left to right: Gary Lynch*, Jamisen Etzel**, Katrina Carroll*, Todd Carpenter*, Ed Kilpela*, Kyle Shamberg**, Bruce Carlson


Personal Safety Tips in the Era of Cyber Crime

Someone is trying to steal your data. It has likely happened already, through a hacked email or a social media breach. Hackers work around the clock and all over the world to steal your identity.  While they don’t actually care who you are personally, they want the “you” that is inherent in your personal data.

From a legal standpoint, cyber-criminals are difficult to prosecute, because they are experts at covering their tracks. Institutions, on the other hand, are being challenged to protect their clients and employees. When a major breach occurs –millions of accounts are raided. This type of breach is often the result of organizational negligence or the company not adequately protecting a customer’s data.

So how can you protect yourself in the ever-changing landscape of the web?

We’ve compiled a list of quick checks to help you maximize your chance of withstanding a data breach.  As technology progresses, it is important to use best practices for cyber-security, at home and at work.

USE STRONG PASSWORDS

This is your primary defense against cyber-criminals. Creating unique passwords for each account may feel like a hazzle but remember this is your main line of defense against spyware, ID theft, and unwanted charges on your account.

USE TWO-FACTOR AUTHENTICATION

You have likely used this before, especially if you bank online or use social media accounts. “2FA” usually requires you to enter a second code, transmitted by text or phone call. Unless a hacker can obtain both your password and phone, 2FA is a powerful shield.

USE A VIRTUAL PRIVATE NETWORK

A VPN is a private network that is usually encrypted, making it very difficult for hackers to break. VPNs are affordable and easy to install, and many workplaces require VPNs for all employees, especially if they work on company laptops at home. If you’ve never used one before, we suggest consulting an expert to ensure your VPN is legitimate and functions properly. (Check the validity of any application before downloading anything off of the internet).

VET YOUR EMAILS AND LINKS

You may still receive misspelled emails from foreign dignitaries, but scammers have become far more sophisticated in recent years. Cyber-criminals routinely hack into email accounts in order to send urgent (and authentic-sounding) requests. If you receive a link that looks at all unfamiliar, do not click it. You may not only contract malware on your device; you could spread it to an entire network.

If you have been a victim of cyber-identity theft and have additional questions about protecting your data, let us know.







    Uber Driver

    Federal Court Rules That Civil Rights Claims Against Uber Must Be Heard in Court

    Ruling comes after Uber tried to avoid its legal responsibility to provide transportation accessible for all

    Uber logoPITTSBURGH, PA (November 13, 2019) – Yesterday, a federal court in Pittsburgh ruled that plaintiffs suing Uber for failing to provide transportation accessible to people with disabilities cannot be forced into arbitration and must have their claims heard openly in federal court.

    Filed on June 11, 2019, the lawsuit seeks modifications to Uber’s policies and practices to ensure that the company makes wheelchair-accessible vehicles readily available to Pittsburgh riders who need them. Plaintiffs do not seek monetary damages.

    “We filed this lawsuit to ensure that Uber and other ridesharing companies provide transportation that is accessible to all, including people with disabilities,” said Disability Rights Advocates staff attorney Melissa Riess and Carlson Lynch LLP Founding Partner R. Bruce Carlson. “Facing a number of accessibility lawsuits around the country, Uber has repeatedly tried to prevent these claims from being heard in court to avoid their legal obligation to provide accessible transportation. This ruling reinforces that the right to accessible transportation is a civil right, and it cannot be denied to our clients or anyone else.

    “Plaintiffs are not seeking monetary damages. This suit is not about money. It’s about ensuring an inclusive transportation system for all Pittsburghers.”

    The ruling means that the plaintiffs can proceed in federal court and have their claims heard under federal civil rights laws – allowing the case to proceed on the plaintiffs’ claims of systemic discrimination by Uber against people with disabilities.

    Drawing on previous rulings in similar cases, the court rejected as “meritless” Uber’s novel argument that people who have not downloaded Uber’s app or signed up to its terms of use could be forced into arbitration and upheld the basic legal principle that someone cannot be bound by a contract they did not agree to.

    In addition to the case filed against Uber in Pittsburgh, DRA has filed cases against Uber in New York and California for their failure to serve riders who use wheelchairs. DRA has also filed a case against Uber’s competitor Lyft in California. These cases are critical to protecting the rights of wheelchair-users throughout the country. More background on the case is available here.

    # # #

    About Disability Rights Advocates

    With offices in New York and California, Disability Rights Advocates is the leading nonprofit disability rights legal center in the nation. Its mission is to advance equal rights and opportunity for people with all types of disabilities nationwide. DRA represents people with all types of disabilities in complex, system-changing, class action cases. DRA is proud to have upheld the promise of the ADA since our inception. Thanks to DRA’s precedent-setting work, people with disabilities across the country have dramatically improved access to education, health care, employment, transportation, disaster preparedness planning, voting, and housing. For more information, visit dralegal.org.

    About Carlson Lynch LLP

    Carlson Lynch, LLP is a national class action firm which currently has more than 20 lawyers spread across offices in Pittsburgh, San Diego, Los Angeles, and Chicago. Since 2010, the firm has dedicated significant resources to litigation on behalf of individuals with disabilities. The firm is committed to pursuing impactful cases that advance the interests of the disabled community on the largest possible scale. Carlson Lynch also regularly litigates class actions involving data breach, privacy, consumer protection, and wage and hour violations

    Ruling comes after Uber tried to avoid its legal responsibility to provide transportation accessible for all

    Uber logoPITTSBURGH, PA (November 13, 2019) – Yesterday, a federal court in Pittsburgh ruled that plaintiffs suing Uber for failing to provide transportation accessible to people with disabilities cannot be forced into arbitration and must have their claims heard openly in federal court.

    Filed on June 11, 2019, the lawsuit seeks modifications to Uber’s policies and practices to ensure that the company makes wheelchair-accessible vehicles readily available to Pittsburgh riders who need them. Plaintiffs do not seek monetary damages.

    “We filed this lawsuit to ensure that Uber and other ridesharing companies provide transportation that is accessible to all, including people with disabilities,” said Disability Rights Advocates staff attorney Melissa Riess and Carlson Lynch LLP Founding Partner R. Bruce Carlson. “Facing a number of accessibility lawsuits around the country, Uber has repeatedly tried to prevent these claims from being heard in court to avoid their legal obligation to provide accessible transportation. This ruling reinforces that the right to accessible transportation is a civil right, and it cannot be denied to our clients or anyone else.

    “Plaintiffs are not seeking monetary damages. This suit is not about money. It’s about ensuring an inclusive transportation system for all Pittsburghers.”

    The ruling means that the plaintiffs can proceed in federal court and have their claims heard under federal civil rights laws – allowing the case to proceed on the plaintiffs’ claims of systemic discrimination by Uber against people with disabilities.

    Drawing on previous rulings in similar cases, the court rejected as “meritless” Uber’s novel argument that people who have not downloaded Uber’s app or signed up to its terms of use could be forced into arbitration and upheld the basic legal principle that someone cannot be bound by a contract they did not agree to.

    In addition to the case filed against Uber in Pittsburgh, DRA has filed cases against Uber in New York and California for their failure to serve riders who use wheelchairs. DRA has also filed a case against Uber’s competitor Lyft in California. These cases are critical to protecting the rights of wheelchair-users throughout the country. More background on the case is available here.

    # # #

    About Disability Rights Advocates

    With offices in New York and California, Disability Rights Advocates is the leading nonprofit disability rights legal center in the nation. Its mission is to advance equal rights and opportunity for people with all types of disabilities nationwide. DRA represents people with all types of disabilities in complex, system-changing, class action cases. DRA is proud to have upheld the promise of the ADA since our inception. Thanks to DRA’s precedent-setting work, people with disabilities across the country have dramatically improved access to education, health care, employment, transportation, disaster preparedness planning, voting, and housing. For more information, visit dralegal.org.

    About Carlson Lynch LLP

    Carlson Lynch, LLP is a national class action firm which currently has more than 20 lawyers spread across offices in Pittsburgh, San Diego, Los Angeles, and Chicago. Since 2010, the firm has dedicated significant resources to litigation on behalf of individuals with disabilities. The firm is committed to pursuing impactful cases that advance the interests of the disabled community on the largest possible scale. Carlson Lynch also regularly litigates class actions involving data breach, privacy, consumer protection, and wage and hour violations