On March 27, 2018, California Judge Mary E. Wiss of the San Francisco Superior Court issued an order overruling a demurrer by internet kingpin Google in the proposed class action of Kelly Ellis et al. v. Google, LLC (formerly Google, Inc.), case number CGC-17-561299 Plaintiffs, four former female employees of Google, brought suit for systematic favoritism of male employees over female employees, including hiring position and salary, promotion time frames, positions and amounts, and paying women less than men for substantially equal or similar work. The suit proposes a class of six employee categories containing a total of 30 positions and targets Google’s entire California operation, which includes approximately 21,000 employees at its headquarters alone.
On April 2, 2018, Mick Mulvaney, Acting Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (“CFPB”), issued his first report to Congress on the CFPB, requesting that the agency’s independence and power be limited
On March 20, 2018, the United States Supreme Court issued a unanimous decision in Cyan, Inc. v. Beaver County Employees Retirement Fund, holding that the Securities Litigation Uniform Standards Act of 1998 (“SLUSA”) did not strip state courts of their jurisdiction to adjudicate class actions brought under the Securities Act of 1933 (the “1933 Act”). The Court’s decision upheld the original language of the 1933 Act, authorizing both state and federal courts to exercise jurisdiction over actions brought under the 1933 Act, and barring removal of actions brought in state court under the 1933 Act.
On February 21, 2018, the United States Supreme Court issued a unanimous decision in Digital Realty Trust, Inc. v. Somers, holding that the anti-retaliation provisions in the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010 do not protect individuals who report suspected securities law violations to company management, but not to the Securities and Exchange Commission.
On February 9, 2018, the New Jersey Bureau of Securities issued an emergency order to stop the sale of securities by Bitstrade in the state. Bitstrade is offering investors participation in an investment pool that purportedly will be invested in cryptocurrencies and guaranteed 10% returns. The securities are offered to the public through a website. The Bureau found that Bitstrade was violating New Jersey securities laws by failing to make certain key disclosures, including how investors funds would be invested.
On February 13, 2018, the Mortgage Bankers Association, along with over 130 mortgage bankers from 40 states, sent an open letter to Congress highlighting what they view as the need for comprehensive secondary mortgage market reform. According to the letter, it “has been almost ten years since Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were placed into conservatorship. The undersigned lending institutions active in the mortgage markets are encouraged by the recent progress in Congress on comprehensive finance reform.”
The Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals and of the State of New York, Janet DiFiore, announced that as of March 1, 2018, all four Departments of the New York State Appellate Division will commence electronic filing in certain appellate matters and original proceedings.
On January 31, 2018, the full panel for the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit upheld as constitutional the structure for the appointment of a Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (“CFPB”) – reversing the Court’s prior October 2016 decision to the contrary.
On Monday, February 5, 2018, Freedom Debt Relief LLC, the nation’s largest debt settlement service company, sought dismissal of the CFPB’s suit against it claiming that the allegations did not show that anything the company did was unfair or deceptive. According to Freedom Debt Relief, “[t]he complaint is riddled with factual errors and supported by a handful of cherry-picked and out-of-context statements, with no allegation whatsoever of consumer harm. Discovery and presentation on a motion for summary judgment or at trial would demonstrate these material deficiencies; however, the court should not allow this case to proceed further.”
On February 7, 2018, the New York State Department of Financial Services (“DFS”) issued “Guidance on Prevention of Market Manipulation and Other Wrongful Activity”. The guidance was issued to all virtual currency business entities licensed under 23 NYSCC Part 200, or chartered as limited purpose trust companies under New York’s Banking Law. The purpose of the guidance was to address the “ongoing development of virtual currency-related markets.”