Case Studies

Epstein Becker Green Secures Favorable Settlement in Class Action Case

Epstein Becker Green recently concluded a favorable class action settlement for a leading in-flight Internet service provider.

In 2014, the client was sued in a putative class action in the Eastern District of New York. The claims against the client centered on its monthly subscription, pursuant to which its customers are afforded access to the Internet on all flights equipped with the client’s devices and agree to have their credit cards charged each month until they take steps to cancel the service. The complaint alleged that the client did not sufficiently apprise customers of the recurring nature of the charge, and sought restitution, requesting nearly $24 million in charges on behalf of the class.

After the judge denied the client’s motion for stay or dismissal in favor of arbitration, Epstein Becker Green appealed the case to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. In response, the judge set a hearing for class certification two months hence. In the face of both the likely success of the appeal and extensive discovery demands that we served on the class certification issue, plaintiffs’ counsel requested that the matter be stayed so that the parties could conduct a formal mediation. After two days of meditation, a settlement was brokered in which the client offered promotional codes to affected class members to settle the action. Because so-called “coupon settlements” warrant higher scrutiny under the Class Action Fairness Act and current case law, the court required three hearings for approval, including the submission of expert reports on the particular sophistication of the client’s customers. Final approval was granted in April 2016, the time for appeal has expired, and the settlement is now final.

The Epstein Becker Green team included Newark attorneys Anthony J. Laura, Robert M. Travisano, and Yael Spiewak and New York attorneys Scarlett L. Freeman and Matthew Savage Aibel.

EBG Shuts Down Cybersquatter, Protects Trademarks with TRO and, Later, Judgment

Epstein Becker Green’s civil action on behalf of a medical school client led to a temporary restraining order (TRO) and, later, a preliminary injunction issued against a disgruntled former student. That former student set up websites with infringing domain names that would emerge in standard Internet search engines and divert those seeking actual client websites to land on the former student’s webpages filled with vitriolic anti-client rhetoric; statements disparaging the client, its educational services and its officers; and factually false information concerning the client, its graduation rates, and certain financial matters.

The facts and legal arguments developed by Epstein Becker Green led to the court enjoining such conduct and disabling the websites, which occurred in less than 12 hours from the issuance of the first order. The court found a likelihood of success on the merits on the contract claims, trademark infringement claims, and cybersquatting claims, concluding that the client had demonstrated defendant’s “bad faith” under Title 15 of the United States Code and rejecting the former student’s claims of non-commercial speech entitled to protection.

In early 2014, federal Judge Anne E. Thompson, sitting in New Jersey, found that the rogue former student had breached his non-disparagement obligations under a prior settlement agreement and had wrongfully infringed upon our client’s trademark rights in violation of the federal Anticybersquatting Act. Judge Thompson permanently enjoined defendant and all those acting in concert with him, including all Internet registrars and hosting entities, from publishing or disseminating any statements intended to disparage the medical school and its administrators. 

The Epstein Becker Green team included attorneys James P. Flynn and Robert M. Travisano of the Newark office.