"Let us realize the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice."
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Archive for February, 2013

Inside the Near fm radio station in Dublin, Ireland.


Robert J. Gaudet, Jr. appeared on Irish radio on January 31, 2013 to talk about EU class actions, horse meat in Irish hamburgers, and Google’s cookies in an interview that is available on podcast at this link.  (Mr. Gaudet’s conversation starts halfway into the 1 hour program).

Mr. Gaudet explained what class actions are and how they could be used in a country like Ireland, for example, by consumers who purchased “100% hamburger” patties from a grocery store but discovered that part of the meat was horse meat and pig meat.  This news was recently disclosed in Ireland.  As a result, Burger King has sought different suppliers for its beef and Tesco has removed frozen patties from its shelves.  Since there is no class action system in Ireland, consumers are not likely to receive any compensation.

Radio show host and barrister Andrew Robinson asked Mr. Gaudet about a class action filed in the United States in Delaware federal court against Google for evading the Safari internet browser with cookies.  Mr. Gaudet reported that a number of cases in the United States were consolidated in a MDL, or multi-district litigation order, before the federal court in Delaware for the purpose of pre-trial proceedings.  A motion to dismiss on the grounds of lack of jurisdiction is pending but has not been decided.

Barristers Andrew Robinson and Peter Leonard, hosts of “The Brief,” a community radio talk show, with Robert J. Gaudet, Jr..

Mr. Gaudet noted that the Google case is a good example of our global economy since Google is based in California but users are spread around the world.   Similar issues are being addressed in Europe through the Digital Single Market with a focus on cyber-security and data protection, all of which will be discussed during Ireland’s presidency of the EU Council of Ministers over the next six months including at the Digital Agenda Assembly in Dublin in June 2012. There was also a lawsuit filed against Google in the UK over the same cookies that violate privacy.

(Although not discussed during the radio show, it appears that the US class actions do not represent the interests of European users of Apple’s Safari internet browser – just US users – so it might be useful for a European user of Apple’s Safari to step forward and file a class action on behalf of Europeans in a federal court in California to ensure the privacy interests of Europeans are represented in the US litigation.)

Mr. Robinson asked Mr. Gaudet what he foresees in the future for class actions in Europe.  Mr. Gaudet said he was optimistic and that he thought, in the long-run, opt-out class actions would be available in Europe because they are the best way to distribute damages and hold defendants accountable.  In the short-run, class actions might not be available due to industry lobbying and the failure to recognize any sooner, as in Sweden, that the opt-in class action devices are not working in those EU countries where they are currently available.  A package of reforms that addresses the loser pay’s rule and removes the risk for victims to serve as class representatives will have to be made in order for class actions to become a useful reality in Europe.  After Mr. Gaudet’s interview, in the same program, Texas lawyer Jeff Tillotson spoke about his attempts to recover $12 million in bonuses paid to Lance Armstrong.

The radio program, The Brief, airs live on Thursday nights in the Dublin area on Near fm 90.3.  It is picked up by Barristers and solicitors who practice in Dublin.  Near fm is run by a non-profit community project and it broadcasts 24 hours/day and every day of the year with the goal of encouraging development work.