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They’ve Got Next: Consumer Litigation Fresh Face Todd Logan

Feb. 28, 2022, 9:45 AM

Edelson partner Todd Logan was named head of the firm’s mass tort and gambling practice groups in November, but he’s been running some of its most groundbreaking cases since 2018.

Logan has recovered around $200 million in cash settlements to resolve lawsuits based on the novel theory that “social casinos” violate Washington’s gambling laws. And there is likely another $24.5 million on the way, after the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington granted preliminary approval of a class settlement to resolve claims against Nevada-based Scientific Games Corp. in January.

Social casinos are mobile apps, some developed by or in partnership with brick-and-mortar casinos, that allow users to play Vegas-style games from their smartphones, tablets, or computers. The industry generated an estimated $6.2 billion in revenue in 2020 alone, according to data compiled by Statista.

In 2015, Edelson started filing would-be class actions against major industry players, including DoubleDown Interactive LLC in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois and Machine Zone Inc. in the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland.

For several years, the firm was “basically laughed out of court,” Logan said. They were 0-for-5 before they got anywhere.

Because the virtual chips used to continue playing the games can’t be exchanged for cash, it isn’t always clear that they constitute “gambling” within a state’s laws.

Logan and his team were initially unsuccessful in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington in a 2015 lawsuit against Churchill Downs over games made by its then-subsidiary Big Fish Casino Inc. and like they had been everywhere else, their claims were dismissed. But the Edelson team believed they pleaded a strong case under the state’s laws, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ultimately agreed.

In 2018, the Ninth Circuit held that virtual chips are a thing of value for the purposes of Washington gambling laws, including its statute allowing consumers to recover money spent playing prohibited gambling games.

“It was a watershed moment for my firm and for my work,” Logan said.

The decision paved the way for the firm’s $155 million settlement to resolve claims against Churchill Downs Inc., a $38 million deal to resolve class claims against Playtika Ltd. and Caesars Interactive Entertainment Inc., and a $6.5 million deal to resolve class claims against Huuuge Inc.

Following the victory, Edelson filed additional lawsuits, including against platforms Apple Inc., Alphabet Inc.'s Google, and Meta Platforms Inc.'s Facebook over their alleged involvement playing the role of bookies in illegal gambling enterprises. The suits have since been consolidated in multidistrict litigation before the Northern District of California.

The pleadings involve over a dozen California state law claims, as well as claims under the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, commonly known as RICO.

Logan is on the executive committee for the MDL, serving as law and briefing counsel, with his colleague and Edelson’s managing partner, Rafey Balabanian, serving as lead counsel.

Logan also had a hand in the firm’s litigation before the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California and related bankruptcy proceedings against Pacific Gas and Electric Co. over the deadly Northern California wildfires, handling substantial motions practice and a key deposition.

The litigation eventually resulted in a $13.5 billion settlement fund, established as part of the company’s 2020 bankruptcy plan.

Working at Edelson during his summers as a Harvard Law School student, Logan joined the firm after he graduated in 2015, helping to open the firm’s San Francisco office.

He left for a year to clerk for Judge James Donato in the Northern District of California in 2016 and returned to Edelson in 2017. Four years later, he made partner.

Logan aspired to be a plaintiffs’ lawyer while watching his older brother, Tyson Logan, a partner at the Spence Law Firm, try cases when he was a kid. But later working and studying under professor William B. Rubenstein, a well-known class actions expert at Harvard, solidified his trajectory, he said.

“He sold me on the idea that you could work on high-stakes, impactful cases and do something you believe in at the same time,” Logan said of Rubenstein.

It’s the drive that prevented Logan from folding when lower court judges said the social casino cases were bad lawsuits, said the firm’s founder Jay Edelson.

Edelson likened Logan’s trial work process to his tennis game.

“Some people just play their own game and it doesn’t matter who they’re playing, they will play the same way, but Todd is the opposite,” Edelson said. “Backhands, drop shots, staying on the baseline, it doesn’t matter.

“It’s really impressive what he’s done.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Holly Barker in Washington at hbarker@bloombergindustry.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Kibkabe Araya at karaya@bloombergindustry.com; Carmen Castro-Pagán at ccastro-pagan@bloomberglaw.com; Lisa Helem at lhelem@bloombergindustry.com