Vildan Teske Named to Minnesota Federal Judicial Selection Committee

Congratulations to Teske Katz Kitzer & Rochel partner, Vildan Teske, who was named by Senator Amy Klobuchar and Senator Al Franken to serve on their judicial selection committee. The Hon. Ann Montgomery and Hon. Donovan Frank, both judges on the United States District Court for the District of Minnesota, recently took senior status, leaving two vacancies that will need to be filled.

In announcing the committee, Senator Klobuchar said “[t]his group of distinguished Minnesota leaders will help us identify jurists who will continue Minnesota’s long tradition of federal judges with broad experience and an unwavering commitment to the fair and just application of the law.”

Senator Franken said “I’m looking forward to reviewing the Committee’s work and recommending nominees to the President who will serve the people of our state with honor and distinction.”

Teske remarked, “I’m honored to serve on this prestigious committee. My years advocating on behalf of consumers, working with the Federal Bar Association, and serving on the Board of the Infinity Project have confirmed how important it is to have a good and strong judiciary.”

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Vildan Teske Quoted in Star Tribune Article regarding Forced Arbitration

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On Sunday, the Minneapolis Star Tribune featured an article about the current state of forced arbitration of consumer disputes: “Debate over forced arbitration finds its second wind, with help from events like Wells Fargo scandal.” Teske Katz Kitzer & Rochel partner Vildan Teske is quoted in the article, noting that there have been recent developments in the fight against forced arbitration in consumer disputes, but that the latest changes only provide a “patchwork of protection.”

Teske has been a strong and vocal advocate for consumers, particularly in the fight to curtail forced arbitration and to reinforce consumers’ rights to use the judicial system when they have been harmed. Teske has presented on the issue many times, including along with U.S. Senator Al Franken and other notable consumer rights experts. Teske has also testified before the U.S. Senate Judiciary committee.

For more information on consumer financial issues, consumer class actions, or forced arbitration, contact our firm or Vildan Teske directly.

Doug Micko Presents CLE to Hennepin County Bar Association on Spoliation and Preservation of Evidence

On October 4, 2016, Teske Katz Kitzer & Rochel attorney Doug Micko was part of a panel presentation on spoliation of evidence, sponsored by the Hennepin County Bar Association’s Labor & Employment Law Section. The program, entitled, “Spoliation of Evidence: Knowing and Avoiding the Pitfalls,” focused on parties’ obligations to safekeep information for litigation. “Spoliation—destruction of evidence—is becoming more and more of an issue, especially with so much evidence taking electronic forms through text messages and emails these days,” said Micko, “and it’s not an easy road to navigate because the law is quickly changing in this area.” Micko added, “This can be especially true in employment law cases, where witnesses might text critical information back and forth.” Micko was joined on the panel by Elizabeth Gerling, which was moderated by Areti Georgopolous.

 If you believe you have employment law claims, it is important to know your obligations to retain evidence. Our lawyers can help you understand those obligations.

All Teske Katz Kitzer & Rochel Attorneys Named to Super Lawyers/Rising Stars List; Micko Named One of Minnesota’s Top 100 Lawyers

Once again, all of Teske Katz Kitzer & Rochel’s attorneys have been named to the annual  Super Lawyers and Rising Stars lists. Additionally, Doug Micko has been named as one of the Top 100 Lawyers in Minnesota, a high distinction reserved for the top attorneys under the Super Lawyers rating system–especially impressive given that there are more than 20,000 attorneys practicing in Minnesota. 

Vildan Teske was named a Super Lawyer honoree and Marisa Katz was named a Rising Star honoree, both in the “Class Action/Mass Torts” category.  Doug Micko was named a Super Lawyer honoree and Phillip Kitzer and Brian Rochel were named named Rising Stars honorees, all  in the “Employment Litigation: Plaintiff” category.  

 Each year, only a select few attorneys are honored as Super Lawyers or Rising Stars. Only 5% of the attorneys in Minnesota are recognized as Super Lawyers, and only 2.5% of attorneys are named as Rising Stars (for attorneys in their first 10 years of practice or under the age of 40). The award is based on a combination of  objective criteria,  peer nominations, and a blue ribbon panel review

For individual profiles and to see Teske Katz Kitzer & Rochel’s firm profile, visit the Super Lawyers website. To view the full digital Super Lawyers magazine with the complete list, click here.

Teske Katz Kitzer & Rochel is proud of all of its attorneys, and grateful to the legal community for this recognition.

Vildan Teske Presents in Program with Senator Franken in Washington D.C. on the Problems of Forced Arbitration for Servicemembers, Employees, and Consumers

On June 7, 2016, Vildan Teske presented on a panel discussing the growing and problematic use of forced arbitration clauses in consumer and employment agreements. The event, “Reforming the Ripoff Clause: Why Access to Justice Matters for Accountability and the Economy,” was hosted by the Center for American Progress (CAP). It included remarks by Senator Al Franken and Congressman Don Beyer on the issue of forced arbitration, followed by a panel discussion by a group of nationally-recognized consumer advocates.  The panel included Deepak Gupta of Gupta Wessler who argued on behalf of consumers before the U.S. Supreme Court in the landmark AT&T v. Concepcion case; Julie Murray, an attorney at Public Citizen; David Halperin, attorney and public policy advocate; and Vildan Teske. The event was streamed live and is available in its entirety here.

Over the past decade, and especially in recent years, the scope and impact of these consumer and worker “ripoff clauses” have grown immensely, undermining the private attorney general system that has long protected consumers and workers from poor-quality, fraudulent, or even dangerous products, services, and work conditions. Ms. Teske spoke on a variety of access to justice issues related to forced arbitration in consumer and employment agreements, including, in particular, debunking the myth that “opt out” clauses provide a legitimate opportunity for aggrieved consumers or workers to seek justice through the public court system.  

Ms. Teske is a nationally-recognized expert on the topic of forced arbitration, and testified before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee on the topic. If you have questions about forced arbitration or other clauses that take away consumer and employee access to the public court system, contact Teske Micko today.  

Payday Lending Class Action, Filed by Teske Katz Kitzer & Rochel, Gets Green Light to Proceed in Favorable Court Order

On Monday, May 16, Hennepin County District Court Judge Thomas M. Sipkins, issued an order denying defendant payday lender, PayDay America, Inc.’s motion to dismiss a class action filed by Teske Katz Kitzer & Rochel on behalf of a class of consumers who allege that PayDay America sold them high-cost loans in violation of Minnesota law governing consumer credit and regulated lending. The Court’s order is available here

In particular, the Plaintiffs’ Class Complaint alleges that Payday America, Inc. charged certain fees for payday loans in excess of the maximum rates allowed for closed-end loans under state law, failed to meet certain disclosure requirements with respect to the calculated annual percentage rate, and engaged in prohibited debt collection practices in connection with the subject loans. 

Teske Katz Kitzer & Rochel attorney Marisa Katz briefed and argued the case in opposition to Payday America Inc.’s motion to dismiss. Ms. Katz noted, “This victory is significant for consumers across the state of Minnesota, who are all-too-often trapped in cycles of debt, often as a result of predatory payday lending practices.” 

The firm looks forward to prosecuting this case forward and its continued representation of Minnesota consumers. If you have questions about the Payday America case, or believe that your consumer rights have been violated contact us today for a confidential consultation. 

New CFPB Rule Prohibiting Forced Arbitration Places Consumer Protection Ahead of Corporate Profits

Today, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) released a new rule proposing the prohibition of mandatory arbitration clauses that deny groups of consumers their day in court. In the last several years, many contracts for consumer financial products and services – from bank accounts to credit cards to cellular phone contracts – have included mandatory arbitration clauses. These clauses affect hundreds of millions of consumer contracts and typically state that the company can require that disputes with consumers be resolved by privately appointed individuals (arbitrators). Where these clauses exist, companies are able to block lawsuits from proceeding in court. These clauses also almost always bar consumers from bringing class action claims through the arbitration process. As a result, no matter how many consumers are injured by the same unlawful conduct, they must proceed to resolve their claims individually against the company, often before arbitrators that rule in favor of the company 99% of the time.

In 2015, the CFPB released a comprehensive study showing that very few consumers ever bring – or think about bringing – individual actions against their financial service providers either in court or in arbitration. The study found that class actions provide a more effective means for consumers to challenge problematic practices by these companies. According to the study, class actions succeed in bringing hundreds of millions of dollars in relief to millions of consumers each year and cause companies to alter their legally questionable conduct.  

The CFPB proposed rule issued today would ban companies from putting mandatory arbitration clauses in new contracts that prohibit class action lawsuits against them. The proposal would once again open up the legal system to consumers. Groups of consumers would have the opportunity to obtain relief from the legal system, and many companies would also be incentivized to comply with the law. Also, the CFPB would be able to monitor the individual arbitration process, providing insight into whether companies are abusing arbitration or whether the process itself is fair. 

Teske Katz Kitzer & Rochel attorneys have spent years both inside and outside the courthouse advocating for consumers’ ability to seek redress in courts nationwide when they are harmed by the unfair and deceptive practices of businesses. For instance, Teske Katz Kitzer & Rochel partner Vildan Teske testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee in December 2013, advocating for the elimination of mandatory arbitration clauses in consumer contracts. Today’s announcement from the CFPB is a huge step for expanding consumer access to justice in the marketplace.

Judge Rules in Favor of Employees in Background Check Class Action

Teske Katz Kitzer & Rochel, along with co-counsel Nichols Kaster, represents a group of employees and prospective employees who were provided illegal background check disclosures by iQor. The case, Shoots, et al. v. iQor, is filed in the District of Minnesota and alleges that iQor’s authorization and disclosure forms violated the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). In a ruling today by Judge Susan Richard Nelson, the Court denied iQor’s motion to dismiss the suit and allowed the class plaintiffs’ claims to move forward. The complete decision is available here

Brian Rochel, partner at Teske Katz Kitzer & Rochel, argued the case on behalf of the plaintiffs. Doug Micko, one of the lead attorneys in the suit, remarked, “Judge Nelson’s order is a win to employees and consumers nationwide. Her ruling reaffirms what the majority of courts have held, that including extra information in disclosure forms violates the FCRA and infringes on the rights of employees and prospective employees to know what they are giving up.” 

Background checks—also referred to as credit reports or consumer reports–have grown exponentially in recent years, especially in the employment context. Nearly half of all employers now require employees and job applicants to authorize background checks, and hundreds of new companies that provide background checks are popping up around the country. Meanwhile, many of these companies and employers do not follow the strict state and federal guidelines that govern background checks and consumer credit reports, including the FCRA. This has led to significant issues for millions of people across the US

Teske Katz Kitzer & Rochel is a fierce advocate for employees and consumers whose rights are violated during the background check process. The ruling in Shoots v. iQor is one more step in the process to even the playing field for employees in this growing area. 

If you believe your rights have been violated, or have questions about background checks, credit reports or consumer reports, contact us today.

Supreme Court OKs Use of Averages and Statistical Analyses to Assess Class-Wide Injury

The Supreme Court ruled today in Tyson Foods, Inc. v. Bouaphakeo, one of several major class action cases that are being decided in the Court’s current term. The issue in this case was whether differences among individual class members may be ignored and a class certified under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (or a collective action certified under the Fair Labor Standards Act), where liability and damages are determined with statistical techniques that presume all class members are identical to the average observed in a sample. A second issue facing the Court was whether a class action may be certified or maintained when the class contains hundreds of members who were not injured and have no legal right to any damages.

In a 6-2 win for class actions, Justice Kennedy, writing for the Court’s majority, held that “This case presents no occasion for adoption of broad and categorical rules governing the use of representative and statistical evidence in class actions.” The court did not, however, decide the second issue as to whether a class can be certified where not every member has suffered damages. It said, “That question is not yet fairly presented by this case.”

Overall, this is a great result for the long-term viability of class action litigation, since the majority of class action cases are made up of class members who have varying individual damages. Statistical samples taken to determine average damages incurred per class member are commonplace, particularly in cases where there are tens of thousands, or hundreds of thousands, of class members. Today’s decision upholds the long-held notion in class action jurisprudence that class cases are maintainable, even when damages incurred by individual class members are not identical.

Katz & Micko Present CLE on Employment Law to Business Lawyers

On February 23, 2016, Teske Katz Kitzer & Rochel partners Doug Micko and Marisa Katz presented a continuing legal education (CLE) seminar on “Employment Law Tips and Traps for Business Lawyers.” The presentation included an overview of key employment law developments in federal and state laws, including the recently passed Minnesota Women’s Economic Security Act (WESA), the interplay between the Family Medical Leave Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act after Young v. UPS, retaliation and whistleblower claims, and other topics. The presentation was made as part of Minnesota CLE’s Business Law Webcast Series