class actions practice

Joel protects the public interest through specialized class actions, challenging conduct by government or private business which violates state laws or the state constitution. Joel’s class action practice has included state constitutional challenges to the manner in which Sound Transit drafted its car tab taxes, emphasizing the Constitutional limits on lawmaking that require full transparency in statutes and ballot titles. He is litigating a challenge to the Washington state sale of an unregistered security (a so-called “Initial Coin Offering” or “ICO”) under the Washington State Securities Act, a Progressive-era “Blue Sky” law. He has used Washington State’s extensive privacy protections, found in the state Constitution and embodied in the Washington Privacy act, to challenge the conduct of major car manufacturers in copying and storing text messages in car infotainment systems, actions one equipment supplier calls “a law enforcement back door.” He has sued Twitter for misleading consumers about the protections it offered when asking them to provide telephone numbers, a violation of Washington law that protects phone numbers from wrongful procurement by the likes of Twitter.

privacy class actions

Gray v. Twitter In October 2019, Twitter publicly acknowledged that it was targeting ads to users’ phone numbers, even when those users had opted out. Twitter routinely promised users that, if they gave phone numbers to Twitter to identify their accounts, Twitter would respect their privacy choices. Instead, it simply ignored them. Luckily for Washington residents, taking a person’s phone number under false pretenses — like lying about privacy protections — is against the law in Washington state. On behalf of all Washington Twitter users who gave phone numbers to Twitter before October 8, 2019, Joel filed suit in federal court, asking the Court to order Twitter to pay $5,000 to every Washington user who gave it a phone number, and compel it to fix its privacy practices.

Auto Manufacturer text privacy cases: Ford, GM, VW, Toyota, and Honda. Washington state law forbids anyone from eavesdropping on your calls or intercepting and copying your text messages. But that’s exactly what car manufacturers do! News reports say that car infotainment systems routinely copy every text message from any phone connected to them, even though it’s not needed for hands-free operation. Worse yet, those texts are stored in computer memory in the car, but only law enforcement agencies and a few private investigators have the equipment that can retrieve them. Your car is described as a law enforcement back door for illegally viewing your text messages. Washington state law gives you the right to sue and collect $1000 per violation, so Joel filed suits against five major manufacturers, seeking financial compensation for every Washingtonian whose messages have been illegally copied.

securities class actions

Hunichen v. Atonomi. At the height of the digital currency bubble, too many companies decided that initial coin offerings could be a great way to raise money while avoiding pesky compliance with securities laws. Luckily, Washington state law requires anyone who sells an unregistered security to refund the full purchase price. Joel and his co-counsel filed suit on behalf of all investors in ATMI tokens and its Simple Agreement for Future Tokens, demanding full refunds, with interest, of the approximately $25,000,000 invested in the unregistered security.

tax class actions

No one really likes paying taxes, but it’s even worse when the tax collector won’t even comply with the law — and adds insult to injury by telling you it doesn’t matter, as long as you pay. For over a decade, Sound Transit has charged users for car tabs using a valuation schedule that doesn’t appear in any statute, and that the Legislature told them not to use. They have tried to hide their problems, but that just compounded the issue, as they kept going back to the Legislature and voters, asking for more and more tax authority while routinely mis-stating the nature of the authority they had and the problems with their processes for collecting. On behalf of all ratepayers in the district, Joel has filed suit, seeking declarations that Sound Transit has to revert to the valuation table actually found in the Revised Code of Washington.