In its sixth annual list of Plaintiffs’ Lawyers Trailblazers, The National Law Journal recognized partner David Straite as one of “a handful of individuals that are truly agents of change.” When David began representing plaintiffs, appellate courts had not yet embraced the legal theory that data is property. David set out to change that, and he did.
David serves as co-lead counsel in the In re: Facebook Internet Tracking Litigation challenging Facebook’s now discontinued practice of tracking its subscribers on partner websites even after they had logged out of their accounts. The Ninth Circuit issued a precedent-setting opinion recognizing Article III standing for consumers to seek disgorgement of unjust enrichment earned on improperly collected personal data, even where victims suffered no out-of-pocket damages. David’s advocacy also resulted in the Ninth Circuit establishing new law under the Wiretap Act, confirming that one who causes a computing device to redirect a communication to itself is not a party to that communication. Facebook sought U.S. Supreme Court review, which was declined in December 2020.
Following the Supreme Court’s denial of certiorari, the parties entered into intense mediation over several months. In July 2021, the case settled for $90 million and included an innovative injunction requiring full sequestration and deletion of the data that the tech giant collected from logged-out users, which may be a first in a data privacy class action settlement. The Northern District of California preliminarily approved the settlement on March 31, 2022.
The case has received praise in the press and even from the defense bar. One defense firm called the case a “watershed,” and a note in the Berkeley Technology Law Journal asked if the case foretells the “future” of data privacy litigation. Another defense firm noted that the injunctive relief portion of the settlement “is a significant new development in class action law.”
For the May/June 2022 Special Supplement to The National Law Journal, including the full list of honorees, visit https://bit.ly/3ORjXGX.