Tag Archives: decertification

Lawyer’s misconduct did not prevent class action certification

In a class action, lawyers’ conduct when contacting (or trying to contact) possible putative class members, is regulated by the court or federal statute.

In this case, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals determined  that class counsel’s faxing of unsolicited advertisement was misconduct.  The decision rested on the question of whether the law firm bribed a third-party in order to obtain a list of the possible putative class members.  Due to a lack of evidence that the payment of $5,000 was a bribe, the court allowed the class to be certified.

I raise this case because it raises the issue of attorney misconduct.  First of all, there are across-the-states ethics rules that govern attorneys’ conduct.  You can access ethics rules governing attorneys by going to the state court’s website and looking for the Board of Professional Responsibility or ethics rules.

As the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals highlighted multiple times, the law firm’s misconduct could possibly warrant disciplinary action.  The Court of Appeals commented that litigants and attorneys should report to the relevant bar authority (the Board of Professional Responsibility) instances of attorney misconduct.  Otherwise, the court warned, unpunished and inappropriate attorney conduct will continue.

In fact, there are ethical rules that discuss the reporting of misconduct.  In Minnesota, Rule 8.3 discusses the reporting of professional misconduct.  Rule 8.3 states, in relevant part,

(a) A lawyer who knows that another lawyer has committed a violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct that raises a substantial question as to that lawyer’s honesty, trustworthiness, or fitness as a lawyer in other respects, shall inform the appropriate professional authority.

Secondly, in a class action, the class representatives through their class counsel must show that the class counsel can appropriately represent the class.  In other words, the court must decide that the law firm can properly represent the entire class (which may in the hundredths).

So, if a law firm possibly engaged in misconduct, i.e. shows a lack of integrity – is the law firm’s representation proper?  The court did state that unethical conduct (regardless of whether it is prejudicial) raises “serious doubt” as to counsel’s ability to adequately represent the class.

via Courthouse News Service.

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Filed under Appellate, attorneys, courts, legal decision, Minnesota, rules, sanctions, Supreme Court

NHL sues NHL player’s union

The National Hockey League, as well as all of its teams, sued the NHL players’ union.  The NHL’s federal complaint alleges that the union is engaging in an impermissible bargaining tactic by allegedly threatening to file an antitrust lawsuit.

The NHL’s complaint further states,

In recent days, many union members have publicly asserted that they intend to decertify the union, or vote in favor of the union’s renouncing or ‘disclaiming interest’ in its role as the exclusive bargaining representative of NHL players, an impermissible bargaining tactic defendants mistakenly believe would enable them to commence an antitrust lawsuit challenging the legality of the NHL’s ongoing lockout of NHL players and thereby to pressure the NHL to accede to the union’s preferred outcome in collective bargaining.

Last night [Thursday, Dec. 13], the NHLPA Executive Committee authorized that a vote be taken over the next four days on whether to authorize the union’s leadership to disclaim interest in its role as the exclusive bargaining representative of NHL players so that the NHL players could commence antitrust litigation against the NHL in order to secure a more favorable collective bargaining agreement.

The union’s improper threats of antitrust litigation are having a direct, immediate and harmful effect upon the ability of the parties to negotiate a new collective bargaining agreement.

The NHL therefore seeks a declaration that the NHL’s ongoing lockout, which is lawful as a matter of federal labor law, does not violate the antitrust laws, and as such, can neither be enjoined nor result in any legally cognizable or compensable damages to defendants.

NHL’s complaint further alleges “that the Norris-LaGuardia Act deprives the federal courts of jurisdiction to enjoin or restrain the ongoing lockout without regard to any purported disclaimer by the NHLPA;” that the lockout is legal under the Clayton Antitrust Act, “and thus does not result in any legally cognizable or compensable damages to NHL players;” and five other claims, all similar to the second one.

via Courthouse News Service.

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Union Decertification Case Law

The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, in SFO Goodnite Inn v. NLRB, ____F.3d____ (D.C. Cir. Nov. 20, 2012), enforced  a National Labor Relations Board order finding a California hotel improperly withdrew recognition from a UNITE HERE local, rejecting the hotel’s argument that it lawfully relied on anti-union petitions signed by a majority of its employees.

In the decision, the court approved the NLRB’s interpretation of Hearst.

[T]he Board has now articulated a clear line for applying the Hearst presumption of taint in “the narrow circumstance where an employer unlawfully instigates or propels a decertification campaign, and then invokes the results of that campaign to justify its unilateral withdrawal of recognition from its employee’s representative.”

The Board explained that the Hearst presumption applies where the employer is directly involved in advancing a decertification petition, whereas the Master Slack test applies where the employer committed unfair labor practices unrelated to the petition that may have contributed to the erosion of support for the union.

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Filed under courts, District Court, labor, legal decision, NLRB, union