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Plaintiffs, former Safeway employees, appealed the trial court's judgment against them on two causes of action under the unfair competition law (UCL) and the Labor Code Private Attorneys General Act of 2004 (PAGA). The Court of Appeal affirmed and held that the trial court properly granted Safeway summary adjudication on the UCL claim because plaintiffs failed to submit evidence raising a triable issue of material fact regarding whether Safeway's no-premium-wages policy harmed the class members in a manner entitling them to the only UCL remedy plaintiff's sought, viz., restitution. Furthermore, even assuming plaintiffs raised a triable issue regarding whether Safeway took from the class members the value of the statutory guarantee, they failed to raise a triable issue regarding their ability to measure that value. The court also held that the trial court properly struck the PAGA claim because it was untimely. View "Esparza v. Safeway, Inc." on Justia Law

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The en banc court reviewed five consolidated appeals from the district court's orders and judgment certifying a nationwide settlement class, approving a settlement, and awarding attorney's fees in a multidistrict litigation brought against automakers regarding alleged misrepresentations about their vehicles' fuel economy. After class counsel and the settling parties negotiated a settlement that the district court approved, objectors challenged the certification order and fee awards. The en banc court affirmed and held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in finding that common issues predominated where the inclusion of used car purchasers in the class did not defeat predominance and variations in state law did not defeat predominance. The en banc court rejected challenges to the adequacy of the class and held that the notice to class members provided sufficient information; the claim forms were not overly burdensome; and there was no evidence of collusion between class counsel and the automakers. Finally, the en banc court held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying fees. View "Ahearn v. Hyundai Motor America" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court vacated the order of the circuit court denying two hospitals' motion to decertify the class after the court initially certified a class action against the hospitals, holding that the circuit court exceeded its jurisdiction by failing to conduct a sufficiently thorough analysis of whether the commonality required for class certification under W. Va. R. Civ. P. 23 was present. Respondent Phillip Gaujot, a judge of the circuit court, certified the class action against West Virginia University Hospitals, Inc. and West Virginia United Health System, Inc. The hospitals moved to decertify the class, but the Judge Gaujot denied the motion. The hospitals then filed a petition for a writ of prohibition asking the Supreme Court to prohibit Judge Gaujot from conducting any further proceedings until he vacated his order denying their motion to decertify the class. The Supreme Court granted the writ of prohibition as moulded, holding that the circuit court exceeded its legitimate powers by certifying the class while failing to conduct a sufficiently thorough analysis of the case to determine whether the commonality required for class certification under Rule 23 was present. View "State ex rel. West Virginia University Hospitals, Inc. v. Honorable Phillip D. Gaujot" on Justia Law

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A class must be decertified when the class representatives are found to lack standing as to their individual claims. The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's order decertifying a class of persons alleging that Hanson violated California Penal Code 632, which prohibits the unauthorized connection to or recording of confidential communications. The panel held that NEI, as the class representative, lacked standing to bring its claim against Hanson. Furthermore, because NEI failed to challenge the district court's standing determination, it waived its right to challenge that determination. Finally, neither mootness exception raised by NEI stands for the proposition that a class can be certified if the class representative lacked standing as to its individual claim. View "NEI Contracting and Engineering, Inc. v. Hanson Aggregates Pacific Southwest, Inc." on Justia Law

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A class of 28,177 exotic dancers alleged that dance clubs violated the Fair Labor Standards Act and state wage-and-hour laws by “intentionally misclassif[ying] class members as independent contractors, refus[ing] to pay minimum wage, unlawfully requir[ing] employees to split gratuities, and unlawfully deduct[ing] employee wages through rents, fines, and penalties.” The Agreement required that every club provide its dancers with an assessment to determine whether they should be classified as employees or an Independent Professional Entertainers and limited the control that the clubs may exercise over the Independent Entertainers. The Agreement also addresses tip-pooling, commissions, reimbursement for license and permit fees required to perform at the club, and provision of logo costumes; it divides a total award of $6.55 million into a Net Cash Payment Settlement Fund, Secondary Pool Remuneration, and attorneys’ fees. The district court approved a settlement over the objections of four class members. The Sixth Circuit affirmed, considering: the “high risk of continued litigation and the uncertain likelihood of success on the merits” and that the Agreement “offers value to the class in the form of cash, rent-credit or dance-fee payments, and long-term structural changes to Defendants’ business practices, all of which directly benefit class members.” The court rejected an argument that the settlement violated the procedural requirements of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23 because the class release was impermissibly broad and the class notice failed to adequately apprise the class members of their rights. View "Doe v. Deja Vu Consulting, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the district court denying Appellant's motion for postconviction relief following an evidentiary hearing, holding that the district court did not err in denying Appellant's motion for postconviction relief. Appellant pled no contest to first degree assault and tampering with a witness and was sentenced to fifty to fifty years' imprisonment. Following the denial of his direct appeal, Petitioner initiated this postconviction proceeding, alleging that he received ineffective assistance of counsel at both the trial and appellate levels. The district court denied relief. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Appellant's claims were either without merit or that Appellant failed to establish prejudice. View "State v. Beehn" on Justia Law

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Timlick filed a class action complaint, alleging that after defaulting on a loan, Timlick received a collection letter from a third-party debt collector (NES) that did not comply with section 1812.701(b) of the Consumer Collection Notice law because certain statutorily-required language was not in a type-size that was at least the same as used to inform Timlick of the debt, or 12-point type. NES moved for summary judgment on the basis that it cured the alleged violation within the 15-day period prescribed by section 1788.30(d) and sent a letter to Timlick’s attorney, enclosing a revised collection letter. Timlick did not dispute NES’s facts but argued section 1788.30(d) should not apply. The trial court granted NES summary judgment. The court of appeal reversed. A debt collector that violates the minimum type-size requirement for consumer collection letters can utilize the procedure for curing violations under the Rosenthal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, but the trial court erred by dismissing the entire putative class action, as this allowed the debt collector to unilaterally “pick off” the named plaintiff and avoid class action litigation. View "Timlick v. National Enterprise Systems, Inc." on Justia Law

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The trust appealed the district court's grant of the law firm's request for a percentage fee awarded from the common settlement fund. The fee award was compensation for the law firm's representation of a class of plaintiffs that settled securities law claims against BioScript. The trust was a member of the class and objected to the fee award. The Second Circuit affirmed and held that, regardless of whether the claims settled here were initiated under fee‐shifting statutes, the common‐fund doctrine properly controls the district court's allocation of attorneys' fees from a common settlement fund. The court explained that class plaintiffs have received the benefit of counsel's representation and assumption of the risk that the lawsuit will not render a recovery, and thus the class may be fairly charged for counsel's assumption of contingent risk. Therefore, the court held that the district court was entitled to exercise its discretion in awarding either a percentage‐of‐the‐fund fee or a lodestar fee to class counsel. View "Fresno County Employees' Retirement Assoc. v. Isaacson/Weaver Family Trust" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit vacated the district court's denial of prison officials' motion for summary judgment on Plaintiff's lawsuit alleging the use of excessive force in violation of the Eighth Amendment, holding that the district court failed to fulfill its obligation to follow the law as set forth in controlling precedent. The prison officials moved for summary judgment arguing that they were entitled to qualified immunity. The district court denied the motion. The record contained two versions of the relevant interaction between Plaintiff and prison officials. Under Scott v. Harris, 550 U.S. 372, 377 (2007), the district court's job was to decide whether the prison officials' evidence blatantly contradicted Plaintiff's version of events. The district court, however, rejected the teaching of Scott and denied the qualified immunity defense. The First Circuit held that the court's denial of qualified immunity was predicated on its error of law and remand to another district court judge for further proceedings consistent with the law was required. View "Underwood v. Barrett" on Justia Law

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The settlement agreement—and in particular, the intent of the settling parties—determines the preclusive effect of the previous action. The settlement agreement in this case released plaintiff's and the class's claims against various parties, but it explicitly did not release any claims against Kohlberg. The Ninth Circuit held that, because the settlement specifically did not release plaintiff's and the class's claims against Kohlberg, claim preclusion did not bar plaintiff's current claim. Therefore, the district court erred by dismissing the action on claim preclusion grounds. The panel reversed and remanded for further proceedings. View "Wojciechowski v. Kohlberg Ventures, LLC" on Justia Law