Justia Class Action Opinion Summaries
Mandala v. NTT Data, Inc.
In a class action suit brought by George Mandala and Charles Barnett against NTT Data, Inc., the plaintiffs argued that NTT's policy of not hiring individuals with a felony conviction disproportionately impacted Black applicants, constituting disparate impact discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The United States District Court for the Western District of New York dismissed the plaintiffs' complaint, and that decision was affirmed by the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. The plaintiffs then filed a motion to vacate the dismissal judgment and sought leave to file a first amended complaint, which the district court denied as untimely under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b)(1).On appeal, the Second Circuit reversed the district court's decision, holding that the plaintiffs' motion should have been evaluated under Rule 60(b)(6) rather than Rule 60(b)(1). Rule 60(b)(6) allows for relief from a judgment under "extraordinary circumstances," which the court found to be present in this case. The court reasoned that the plaintiffs had not previously had a chance to amend their complaint, and that their decision to stand by their initial complaint was not unreasonable given that its sufficiency had been a point of dispute. Additionally, the court found that the proposed amendments to the complaint were not futile. Consequently, the Second Circuit ordered the case to be remanded to the district court for further proceedings consistent with its opinion. View "Mandala v. NTT Data, Inc." on Justia Law
DOMINGUEZ V. BETTER MORTGAGE CORPORATION
In this case, the plaintiff, Lorenzo Dominguez, who was a former employee of Better Mortgage Corporation, alleged that the company violated federal and state wage-and-hour laws, primarily by failing to pay overtime to him and other mortgage underwriters. Upon being sued, Better Mortgage attempted to reduce the size of the potential class and collective action by persuading employees to agree not to join any collective or class action and to settle their claims individually. The district court found that Better Mortgage's communications were misleading and coercive. As such, the court nullified the new employment agreements, release agreements, and ordered the company to communicate with current and former employees about wage-and-hour issues only in writing and with prior approval.The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court’s order imposing a communication restriction on Better Mortgage, considering the company's appeal timely due to a motion to reconsider the restriction, thus tolling the time to file the notice of appeal. The appellate court held that it had jurisdiction to review the communication restriction and found it both justified and tailored to the situation created by the employer’s misleading and coercive communications. However, the appellate court dismissed for lack of jurisdiction the employer’s appeal from the district court’s order nullifying agreements between the employer and current and former employees. The appellate court found that it lacked jurisdiction to consider the merits of the nullification order because the issue was raised in an interlocutory appeal and did not fit any exception that would allow for review. View "DOMINGUEZ V. BETTER MORTGAGE CORPORATION" on Justia Law
Tyngsboro Sports II Solar, LLC v. National Grid USA Service Co., Inc.
In this dispute, two renewable-energy generating companies, Tyngsboro Sports II Solar, LLC and 201 Oak Pembroke Solar LLC, appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit after their class-action lawsuit was dismissed by the District Court for the District of Massachusetts due to lack of subject-matter jurisdiction. The plaintiffs had a longstanding disagreement with defendants, utility companies National Grid USA Service Company, Inc. and Massachusetts Electric Company, over certain tax-related fees charged to them. The plaintiffs sought redress in federal court after unsuccessful petitions to state authorities.The plaintiffs argued that the district court had jurisdiction due to the case's connection to federal tax law, however, the appellate court disagreed, stating that the plaintiffs' complaint did not bring any claim that arose under federal law. The plaintiffs had brought forth four claims against National Grid, including a request for declaratory relief, a state-law claim for a breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing, a state-law claim for restitution and unjust enrichment, and a state-law claim for violating a statutory requirement that public utilities assess only just and reasonable charges.The appellate court affirmed the district court's dismissal of the case, finding that the plaintiffs could not establish federal-question jurisdiction simply by asserting a state-law claim to which there was a federal defense. The court noted that the state-law claims did not necessarily raise a federal issue, and to the extent that one did, the issue was not substantial. As such, the court concluded that the district court lacked jurisdiction over the claims. View "Tyngsboro Sports II Solar, LLC v. National Grid USA Service Co., Inc." on Justia Law
KIM V. TINDER, INC.
The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a district court's approval of a class action settlement between Tinder and Lisa Kim, a user of the dating app, ruling that Kim was not an adequate class representative. This class action lawsuit against Tinder was over its former age-based pricing model. Kim had agreed to arbitration, unlike over 7,000 potential members of the class, creating a fundamental conflict of interest that violated Rule 23(a)(4). The court found that Kim had a strong interest in settling her claim as she had no chance of going to trial, unlike the other members. The court also noted that Kim failed to vigorously litigate the case on behalf of the class, with her approach to opposing Tinder’s motion to compel arbitration not suggesting vigor. The court remanded the case for consideration of Kim's individual action against Tinder. View "KIM V. TINDER, INC." on Justia Law
Villarroel v. Recology
This case revolves around the filed rate doctrine and its applicability in instances where rates approved by a municipal board are questioned. The plaintiffs, a group of customers, sued Recology, a waste management company, alleging that the company violated the Unfair Competition Law and other laws by bribing a city official to facilitate the approval of Recology’s application for increased refuse collection rates. The trial court ruled in favor of Recology, holding that the claims were barred by the filed rate doctrine. The Court of Appeal of the State of California First Appellate District Division Three reversed the decision, stating that the California version of the filed rate doctrine does not bar this action because the purposes underlying the doctrine – “nondiscrimination” and “nonjusticiability” strands – are not implicated by plaintiffs’ claims. The court also concluded that the judgment in the prior law enforcement action does not pose a res judicata bar to this putative class action. The court remanded the case for the trial court’s consideration of Recology’s remaining challenges in the first instance. View "Villarroel v. Recology" on Justia Law
Pinkston v. City of Chicago
The Municipal Code of Chicago included provisions concerning public parking, including parking meters. The fine for exceeding the time purchased at a parking meter differs depending on whether the violation occurs in the “central business district” or the “non-central business district.” At the time of the alleged violation, failure to comply with the parking meter regulations in the central business district resulted in a $65 fine. A $50 fine applied to similar violations outside the central business district.Pinkston filed a class-action, alleging that Chicago had engaged in the routine practice of improperly issuing central business district tickets for parking meter violations. The circuit court dismissed for failure to exhaust administrative remedies before the Chicago Department of Administrative Hearings and voluntarily paying his fine. The appellate court reversed. The Illinois Supreme Court reinstated the dismissal. The underlying issue—whether Pinkston received an improper parking ticket—is routinely handled at the administrative level; an aggrieved party cannot circumvent administrative remedies “by a class action for declaratory judgment, injunction or other relief.” View "Pinkston v. City of Chicago" on Justia Law
BRANDON BRISKIN V. SHOPIFY, INC., ET AL
Plaintiff is a resident of California. While present in California, Plaintiff used his iPhone’s Safari browser to navigate to the website of California-based retailer IABMFG to purchase fitness apparel. Although Plaintiff claims he did not know it at the time, IABMFG’s website used software and code from Shopify, Inc. to process customer orders and payments. Shopify, Inc. is a Canadian corporation with its headquarters in Ottawa, Canada. Plaintiff filed a putative class action lawsuit in California alleging that Shopify violated various California privacy and unfair competition laws because it deliberately concealed its involvement in consumer transactions. The district court agreed, dismissing the second amended complaint without leave to amend. Plaintiff timely appealed. The Ninth Circuit affirmed. For specific jurisdiction to exist over Shopify, Plaintiff’s claim must arise out of or relate to Shopify’s forum-related activities. The panel held that there was no causal relationship between Shopify’s broader business contacts in California and Plaintiff’s claims because these contacts did not cause Plaintiff’s harm. Nor did Plaintiff’s claims “relate to” Shopify’s broader business activities in California outside of its extraction and retention of plaintiff’s data. Because there was an insufficient relationship between plaintiff's claims and Shopify’s broader business contacts in California, the activities relevant to the specific jurisdiction analysis were those that caused Plaintiff’s injuries: Shopify’s collection, retention, and use of consumer data obtained from persons who made online purchases while in California. The panel held that Shopify, which provides nationwide web-based payment processing services to online merchants, did not expressly aim its conduct toward California. View "BRANDON BRISKIN V. SHOPIFY, INC., ET AL" on Justia Law
Robert Ponzio, et al v. Emily Pinon, et al v.
Mercedes-Benz USA and Daimler AG have sold and leased a number of different Mercedes-Benz vehicles painted in a color called 590 Mars Red. Either due to a defect in the paint or some other reasons the paint on some of these vehicles has deteriorated. Emily Pinon is the owner/lessee of a Mercedes-Benz vehicle painted in Mars Red. Ms. Pinon asserted numerous claims under federal and state law. The third amended class action complaint, the operative pleading, named six other individuals as plaintiffs: (collectively the “Pinon plaintiffs”). The Pinon plaintiffs submitted a motion for preliminary approval of the proposed class action settlement agreement and preliminary certification of the nationwide settlement. Collaboration between the Pinon plaintiffs and the plaintiffs in the District of New Jersey action (collectively the “Ponzio objectors”) failed. The district court rejected the contention of the Ponzio objectors that the settlement agreement failed to provide benefits to the great majority of the class members. The Eleventh Circuit affirmed. The court held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in approving the class action settlement. The court explained that it rejects the Ponzio objectors’ argument that “the economic interests of substantial portions of the [c]lass [m]embers are in substantial conflict” and the “interests of the [Pinon] class representatives are not aligned with, and are actually antagonistic to, the interests of a majority of [c]lass [m]embers. The court explained that it was satisfied that the district court took the objections of the Ponzio objectors seriously and, after rejecting those objections, acted within its discretion in approving the settlement agreement. View "Robert Ponzio, et al v. Emily Pinon, et al v." on Justia Law
Hardwick v. 3M Co.
Hardwick alleged that his bloodstream contains trace quantities of five chemicals (PFAS)—which are part of a family of thousands of chemicals used in medical devices, automotive interiors, waterproof clothing, food packaging, firefighting foam, non-stick cookware, ski and car waxes, batteries, semiconductors, aviation and aerospace construction, paints and varnishes, and building materials. Hardwick, who was exposed to firefighting foam, does not know what companies manufactured the particular chemicals in his bloodstream; nor does he know whether those chemicals might someday make him sick. Of the thousands of companies that have manufactured PFAS since the 1950s, Hardwick sued 10 defendants and sought to represent a class comprising nearly every person “residing in the United States.” The district court certified a class comprising every person residing in Ohio with trace amounts of certain PFAS in their blood.The Sixth Circuit remanded with instructions to dismiss the case. Even at the pleadings stage, the factual allegations, taken as true, “must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level.” The element of traceability requires a showing that the plaintiff’s “injury was likely caused by the defendant.” The district court treated the defendants as a collective, but “standing is not dispensed in gross.” Even if Hardwick met the actual-injury requirement he must tie his injury to each defendant.” Hardwick’s conclusory allegations do not support a plausible inference that any of the defendants bear responsibility for the PFAS in Hardwick’s blood. View "Hardwick v. 3M Co." on Justia Law
James v. Hegar
Plaintiffs are three Texas residents whose assets escheated to the State under Texas’s Unclaimed Property Act. Plaintiffs brought a class action lawsuit against the Texas Comptroller and a director in the Comptroller’s office, alleging that the State is abusing the Unclaimed Property Act to seize purportedly abandoned property without providing proper notice. The district court dismissed most of Plaintiffs’ claims. Defendants contend that Plaintiffs cannot invoke Ex parte Young because they lack standing to seek prospective relief and have not alleged an ongoing violation of federal law. The Fifth Circuit agreed with Defendants and reversed the district court’s denial of Eleventh Amendment sovereign immunity, and remanded with instructions to dismiss Plaintiffs’ remaining claims for prospective relief without prejudice. The court explained that Plaintiffs have failed to allege facts indicating that Texas’s alleged abuse of the UPA is ongoing or will continue in the future. As there is no ongoing violation of federal law sufficiently pleaded in the complaint, Plaintiffs have failed to satisfy the Ex parte Young requirements, and their claims for prospective relief are barred by sovereign immunity. View "James v. Hegar" on Justia Law