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Ashley R. Fickel has significant experience handling a variety of complex litigation from inception through trial. Mr. Fickel has significant trial experience, including experience in cases ranging from complex business disputes to catastrophic injuries. He has also served a meaningful role in the development of legal strategy for a number of national and international corporations. As a result of Mr. Fickel’s professional achievements, he has been recognized on several occasions as a California “Rising Star” by Law & Politics in the area of litigation.

The California Consumer Privacy Act (“CCPA”), Cal. Civ. Code 1798.100-199, presents some interesting questions for mobility businesses and service providers that handle data developed or transmitted by vehicles. Although the CCPA was passed with an effective date of January 1, 2020, the regulations implementing it are still in flux—and are on their second iteration. But whether final regulations are in place or not, enforcement by the California Attorney General’s office could start as early as July 1, 2020.  Because the CCPA provided only limited exemptions for information collected by the automotive industry—information collected under the Driver’s Privacy Protection Act of 1994 and certain information developed and exchanged by new auto dealers and vehicle manufacturers in connection with warranty work or vehicle/part recalls—significant questions remain as to how the CCPA will be applied to the mobility industry.

For the past hundred or so years, most vehicles did not have the electronic brains to require a CCPA “gut check.” When electronics made their debut in automobiles, tools like OBD allowed vehicles to store diagnostic codes, and eventually event recorders (now regulated by the Driver Privacy Act of 2015) recorded pre-accident conditions. Telematics began to change the picture in the late 1990s, with automobiles transmitting information to central locations using cellular (and now wireless) technology. Modern connected vehicles can collect vast amounts of data when driven—and they can pass large amounts of it to manufacturers and service providers. And even when they are not actively transmitting this information, such information can be extracted from vehicles by service personnel. SAE Level 4 and Level 5 autonomous vehicles will necessarily be more dependent on connectivity both to central data sources and to each other—and can be expected to drive an explosion in data transmitted and analyzed on a central basis. Some of this will be regulated by data privacy laws, such as the CCPA, despite the above noted exceptions for automotive information.
Continue Reading CCPA: Keeping the Wheels on the Road

With the growth of the automotive loan market, which just this month has been the subject of examination by national publications such as the Wall Street Journal, has come a corresponding rise in auto loan delinquencies.  For automotive finance companies, auto repossessions represent a risk for affirmative claims by consumers both on an individual and, more significantly, on a class basis.  Recently, there has been an uptick in class actions against automotive finance companies alleging technical violations of state and federal law governing repossessions. 

In theory, auto repossessions should be a fairly simple process.  In all states, repossessions of autos that were purchased by way of a Retail Sales Installment Contract are subject to Article 9 of the UCC governing secured transactions, and in every state except for Louisiana, leases are subject to Article 2A of the UCC governing leases of personal property. But some states have enacted additional requirements, which can be found in the states’ various retail installment sales acts, automotive financing acts, or other consumer protection statutes. As explained below, uniform disclosure requirements combined with varying state laws creates the potential for class litigation. 
Continue Reading Trend Analysis: Rise in Automotive Repossession Class Actions