Altshuler Berzon LLP files class action lawsuit against Caltech and Simplilearn alleging that they misled students about their Caltech Cybersecurity Bootcamp.

On July 20, 2023, Altshuler Berzon LLP, together with the National Student Legal Defense Network (Student Defense), filed a class action lawsuit in San Francisco Superior Court alleging that the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) and Simplilearn Americas, Inc. (Simpilearn) misled students into enrolling in the Caltech Cybsersecurity Bootcamp.  The lawsuit alleges that Caltech and its for-profit-partner Simplilearn represent to prospective students that the Bootcamp is a Caltech program when, in fact, Simplilearn runs the Bootcamp, which is a Caltech program in name only.

The lawsuit alleges violations of California’s Consumer Legal Remedies Act, False Advertising Law, Unfair Competition Law, and the common law prohibition of unjust enrichment.  Plaintiff was a student in the Caltech Cybsersecurity Bootcamp and, on behalf of herself and all others similarly situated, seeks damages, restitution, and injunctive relief to prevent Caltech and Simplilearn from continuing to deceive students, and to make former and current students whole.

The complaint can be found here, and further information about the case is available here.

Altshuler Berzon LLP Wins Two Unanimous California Supreme Court Decisions that Expand Access to the Courts

CMA v. Aetna: Expanded Access to the Courts for Non-Profits, Labor Unions, and Other Organizational Plaintiffs


On July 17, 2023, the California Supreme Court issued two important opinions that expanded access to the California state courts, the first for employees who have suffered violations of the California Labor Code (Adolph v. Uber, see here) and the second for organizations challenging unlawful, unfair or fraudulent business practices by corporate defendants. Altshuler Berzon LLP attorneys successfully argued both cases. 

In California Medical Association v. Aetna Health of California, Inc., which was Justice Kelli Evans’s first majority opinion as a Supreme Court Justice, the Court unanimously held that an organization satisfies the standing requirement of California’s Unfair Competition Law (“UCL”) if “in furtherance of a bona fide, preexisting mission, [the organization] incurs costs to respond to perceived unfair competition that threatens that mission, so long as those expenditures are independent of costs incurred in UCL litigation or preparations for such litigation.”   

Proposition 64, which was enacted by the voters in 2004, limited the scope of UCL standing by requiring plaintiffs to demonstrate, as a condition of bringing a UCL suit, that they “suffered injury in fact and [have] lost money or property as a result of the unfair competition.” In CMA, the Court unanimously held that an organization satisfies that requirement when it has “expended staff time or other resources on responding to a new threat to its mission, diverting those resources from other projects.” As long as the organization devoted staff resources to addressing the challenged practice and did so in a manner that sought to further its underlying mission, the standing requirements of Proposition 64 would be fully satisfied, according to the Court.  

The CMA decision will substantially expand the ability of organizational plaintiffs, including labor unions, non-profits, and civil rights groups, to pursue legal challenges under the UCL to unlawful, unfair, or fraudulent business practices that threaten their missions.  

Whatley Kallas LLP also represented CMA in this case. The decision is available here. 

Altshuler Berzon LLP Wins Two Unanimous California Supreme Court Decisions that Expand Access to the Courts

Adolph v. Uber: Expanded Access to the Courts for Workers Under PAGA 


On July 17, 2023, the California Supreme Court issued two important opinions that expanded access to the California state courts, the first for employees who have suffered violations of the California Labor Code (Adolph) and the second for organizations challenging unlawful, unfair or fraudulent business practices by corporate defendants (CMA v. Aetna, see here). Altshuler Berzon LLP attorneys successfully argued both cases.  

In Adolph v. Uber Technologies, Inc., Justice Goodwin Liu held for a unanimous Supreme Court that a plaintiff seeking civil penalties on behalf of the State labor agency under California’s Labor Code Private Attorney General Act (“PAGA”) retains standing to pursue such penalties, calculated on the basis of Labor Code violations committed against herself and all other aggrieved employees, even if her own PAGA claim has been compelled to “individual” arbitration.  

This is a huge victory for the millions of California workers covered by forced arbitration agreements, because it rejects the portion of the June 2022 decision of the U.S Supreme Court in Viking River Cruises, Inc. v. Moriana, 142 S.Ct. 1906 (2022), that had construed California law as stripping PAGA plaintiffs of standing to sue on behalf of others once their individual PAGA claims were compelled to arbitration. Because that portion of the Viking River Cruises decision rested on state rather than federal law, it was not binding on the California Supreme Court, which held in Adolph – just 13 months after the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling – that “[b]ecause ‘[t]he highest court of each State . . . remains “the final arbiter of what is state law,”’ we are not bound by the high court’s interpretation of California law.”  

After carefully reviewing the text and legislative purpose of PAGA, the California Supreme Court in Adolph concluded that the California Legislature had intended to preserve PAGA plaintiffs’ standing to pursue the individual and non-individual components of their claims for civil penalties, even if compelled to split those claims between court and arbitration. While the U.S. Supreme Court’s characterization of California law inViking River Cruises would have gutted PAGA, effectively eliminating the civil penalties that were so crucial to accomplishing the twin statutory goals of deterrence and punishment, the California Supreme Court’s Adolph decision ensures that PAGA will remain a vital tool for workers and their representatives seeking to achieve workplace justice and full compliance with the workers’ Labor Code rights. 

The Desai Law Firm and Goldstein, Borgen, Dardarian & Ho also represented the plaintiff in Adolph. The decision is available here. 

 

Federal District Court Dismisses Lawsuit Against Unions for Petitioning Activity Protected by the First Amendment

On July 6, 2023, the U.S. District Court of the Southern District of California granted a motion to dismiss federal antitrust and labor law claims brought by a hotel developer against UNITE HERE! Local 30, the San Diego County Building and Construction Trades Council, and those unions’ leaders.  The hotel developer alleged that the unions and union officials had engaged in unlawful conduct designed to coerce the hotel developer to agree to a card check neutrality agreement and project labor agreement, including by opposing and threatening to file environmental challenges to the proposed hotel redevelopment plan.  The court dismissed the hotel developer’s claims with prejudice on the grounds that the supposedly unlawful activity was all petitioning activity protected by the First Amendment under the Noerr-Pennington doctrine.  The court had previously dismissed the hotel developer’s RICO and state law claims. Altshuler Berzon represented defendants San Diego County Building and Construction Trades Council and Tom Lemmon.  The Coopersmith Law Firm also represented Mr. Lemmon, and the other defendants were represented by McCracken, Stemerman & Holsberry LLP. The order can be found here.