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Thursday, January 23, 2020

Judge: Class actions used as threats by man with 'more than unusual' history of litigation

Federal Court

By Mario Marroquin | Aug 22, 2019


SAN FRANCISCO (Legal Newsline) – Judge William Alsup of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California on Aug. 6 denied a consumer's motion for a class action certification in a lawsuit against My Pillow over privacy concerns. 

Plaintiff Richard Wuest alleges My Pillow recorded customer’s calls without their consent from Dec. 27, 2017, to Feb. 19, 2018, during the post-holiday rush.

Wuest has filed 10 other California Invasion of Privacy Act actions, none of which ever reached the class certification stage by concluding with private settlements, according to Alsup's ruling.

The district court judge said he agrees with My Pillow’s allegations that Wuest’s litigation history and clear pattern make him unable to represent putative class action members.

"Wuest’s litigation history is more than unusual," Alsup wrote. "This order finds that it shows a pattern of using the threat of class action to extract an undeserved premium on an individual claim. This pattern is further evidenced by the fact that in several of the bases, both Wuest and his counsel received settlement amounts disproportionate to maximum recovery allowed under the statute.

“The pattern is quite clear. The premium was something rightfully due to the 'class' but no absent putative class member ever got anything. Wuest and his counsel got it all.”

Aslup also denied Wuest’s motion to seal settlement information from other lawsuits in which "he was a party and which potentially contain attorney-client privileged communication," the ruling states.

To see a chart of the settlements Wuest and his lawyers obtained, click here.

The judge agreed granted a motion to seal an exhibit that shows the retainer agreement and proprietary business practices of Keller Grover LLP, Wuest’s counsel.

My Pillow filed a separate motion to file under seal certain portions of its opposition to the class action certification and other exhibits designated confidential by Wuest.

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