by
This appeal arose out of the district court's approval of a zero-dollar class action settlement and award of attorneys' fees in a consolidated lawsuit stemming from a merger between Midstream and Equity. The Fifth Circuit dismissed a class member's objection to the settlement based on lack of appellate jurisdiction. In this case, the class member was a nonparty, non-intervenor, who waived his right to appeal by filing an untimely, procedurally deficient objection. Furthermore, he failed to qualify for an exception pursuant to Devlin v. Scardelletti, 536 U.S. 1, 3–4, 6–7 (2002). View "Aron v. Crestwood Midstream Partners" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court granted reviewing this PAGA action to consider the scope of discovery available in PAGA actions. The court held that, in non-PAGA class actions, the contact information of those a plaintiff purports to represent is routinely discoverable without any requirement that the plaintiff first show good cause, and nothing in the characteristics of a PAGA suit affords a basis for restricting discovery more narrowly. The court thus reversed the trial court’s discovery order denying Plaintiff’s motion seeking contact information for fellow California employees in other state Marshalls of CA, LLC stores in this representative action seeking civil penalties on behalf of the State and aggrieved employees statewide for alleged wage and hour violations. The court held that Marshalls did not meet its burden of establishing cause to refuse Plaintiff an answer to his interrogatory seeking the identity and contact information of his fellow Marshalls employees. View "Williams v. Superior Court of Los Angeles County" on Justia Law

by
Plaintiffs filed a putative class action against Kolbe & Kolbe Millwork, alleging that Kolbe sold them defective windows that leak and rot. Plaintiffs brought common-law and statutory claims for breach of express and implied warranties, negligent design and manufacturing of the windows, negligent or fraudulent misrepresentations as to the condition of the windows, and unjust enrichment. The district court granted partial summary judgment in Kolbe’s favor on a number of claims, excluded plaintiffs’ experts, denied class certification, and found that plaintiffs’ individual claims could not survive without expert support. The Seventh Circuit affirmed. Plaintiffs forfeited their arguments with respect to their experts’ qualifications under “Daubert.” Individual plaintiffs failed to establish that Kolbe’s alleged misrepresentation somehow caused them loss, given that their builders only used Kolbe windows. Though internal emails, service-request forms, and photos of rotting or leaking windows may suggest problems with Kolbe windows, that evidence did not link the problems to an underlying design defect, as opposed to other, external factors such as construction flaws or climate issues. View "Haley v. Kolbe & Kolbe Millwork Co.," on Justia Law

by
In 2010, Besse, a pharmaceutical distributor, sent a one-page fax advertising the drug Prolia to 53,502 physicians. Only 40,343 of these faxes were successfully transmitted. Sandusky, a chiropractic clinic that employed one of the physicians, claims to have received this “junk fax,” and, three years later, filed a lawsuit under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, 47 U.S.C. 227. The district court denied Sandusky’s motion for class certification. It held that Sandusky’s proposed class failed to satisfy Rule 23(b)(3) because two individualized issues—class member identity and consent—were central to the lawsuit and thus prevented “questions of law or fact common to class members [from] predominat[ing].” In the absence of fax logs, no classwide means existed by which to identify the 75% of individuals who received the Prolia fax; “each potential class member would have to submit an affidavit certifying receipt of the Prolia fax.” The Sixth Circuit affirmed, noting that Besse presented actual evidence of consent to the district court, which required the need for individualized inquiries in order to distinguish between solicited and unsolicited Prolia faxes. The court stated that it was unaware of any court that ever mandated certification of a TCPA class where fax logs did not exist. View "Sandusky Wellness Center, LLC v. ASD Specialty Healthcare, Inc." on Justia Law

by
Defendant The Copley Press, Inc., owner of the San Diego Union-Tribune newspaper (collectively UT), appealed a trial court’s judgment finding plaintiffs (or carriers) were employees of UT in this class action suit. UT argued on appeal: (1) the class representatives were inadequate; (2) the court committed reversible error by not limiting the trial to certified issues and by granting plaintiffs' motion to amend their second amended complaint according to proof; (3) the court did not and could not manage individualized issues; (4) the court's order bifurcating plaintiffs' cause of action under Business and Professions Code section 172001 to be tried first deprived UT of its right to a jury trial; (5) the class award should have been reversed because UT paid carriers enhanced compensation that reimbursed them for expenses the court awarded; (6) the amounts the court awarded were not restitution; (7) the court erred in awarding plaintiffs prejudgment interest; (8) substantial evidence does not support the court's determination that the carriers were employees rather than independent contractors; (9) the court erred in awarding plaintiffs attorney fees under Code of Civil Procedure section 1021.5;2 (10) even if attorney fees could be awarded, the court erred by not substantially reducing them for limited success; and (11) the court erred by adopting plaintiffs' lodestar amount in awarding attorney fees. Plaintiffs appealed the award of attorney fees, arguing: (1) the court abused its discretion in not awarding an enhancement of the lodestar amount of their fees; and (2) the court erred in ruling they abandoned their cause of action for damages under Labor Code section 28023 and therefore could not recover attorney fees under that statute. The Court of Appeals affirmed in part and reversed in part the judgment, and remanded with directions to redetermine the class award, attorney fees, and prejudgment interest. In all other respects, the trial court was affirmed. View "Espejo v. The Copley Press" on Justia Law

by
Plaintiffs, holders of Petrobras equity, filed a class action against various defendants after the multinational oil and gas company was involved in money-laundering and kickback schemes. The district court certified two classes: the first asserting claims under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, 15 U.S.C. 78a et seq.; and the second asserting claims under the Securities Act of 1933,15 U.S.C. 77a et seq. The Second Circuit clarified the scope of the contested ascertainability doctrine and held that a class is ascertainable if it is defined using objective criteria that establish a membership with definite boundaries. That threshold requirement was met in this case. The court held that the district court committed legal error by finding that Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(b)(3)'s predominance requirement was satisfied without considering the need for individual Morrison v. National Australia Bank Ltd., 561 U.S. 247 (2010), inquiries regarding domestic transactions. Therefore, the court vacated this portion of the Certification Order. The court also held that the district court did not abuse its discretion by determining that the Exchange Act class met their burden under Basic Inc. v. Levinson, 485 U.S. 224 (1988), with a combination of direct and indirect evidence of market efficiency.  Accordingly, the court affirmed as to this issue. View "In re Petrobras Securities" on Justia Law

by
Defendants created a publicly searchable “Inmate Lookup Tool” into which they uploaded information about thousands of people who had been held or incarcerated at the Bucks County Correctional Facility since 1938. Taha filed suit, alleging that the County and Correctional Facility had publicly disseminated information on the internet in violation of the Pennsylvania Criminal History Record Information Act, 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. 9102, about his expunged 1998 arrest and incarceration. The district court granted Taha partial summary judgment on liability before certifying a punitive damages class of individuals about whom incarceration information had been disseminated online. The court then found that the only remaining question of fact was whether defendants had acted willfully in disseminating the information. After the court certified the class, the defendants filed an interlocutory appeal. The Third Circuit affirmed the class certification order, rejecting an argument that the district court erred in granting Taha partial summary judgment on liability before ruling on class certification. The court upheld conclusions that punitive damages can be imposed in a case in which the plaintiff does not recover compensatory damages, that punitive damages can be imposed on government agencies, and that the predominance requirement under FRCP 23(b)(3) was met so that a class could be certified. View "Taha v. County of Bucks" on Justia Law

by
The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's order approving a class action settlement and awarding attorneys' fees. Plaintiffs filed suit against Blue Buffalo, alleging that the pet food company broke its "True Blue Promise" that its products contained no chicken or poultry by-product meals. The court held that, in light of the Van Horn factors, the settlement was fair, reasonable, and adequate; it was not an abuse of discretion to find that a settlement providing such benefits was fair to all class members, including those who may have had additional state-law claims; and the attorneys' fees and costs were reasonable. View "Keil v. Lopez" on Justia Law

by
After settlement of a class action for royalties from gas wells, the federal district court for the Western District of Oklahoma awarded attorney fees to class counsel and an incentive award to the lead plaintiff to be paid out of the common fund shared by class members. The court rejected claims by two objectors, and they appealed. Finding the district court failed to compute attorney fees under the lodestar method, as required by Oklahoma law in this diversity case, and the incentive award was unsupported by the record, the Tenth Circuit reversed and remanded. View "Chieftain Royalty v. Enervest Energy" on Justia Law

by
Genova manufactures vinyl pipes and rain gutters. It operated a plant in Hazleton, Pennsylvania. Former employees of that plant filed a putative class action, seeking medical monitoring for their alleged exposure to toxic substances. Genova ceased operations at its Hazleton facility in 2012, more than two years before the suit was filed. Plaintiffs claimed to have discovered previously unavailable Material Safety and Data Sheets (MSDSs), revealing that, while working for Genova, they were exposed to carcinogens and other toxic chemicals linked to various diseases or conditions and that Genova violated the Occupational Safety and Health Administration Hazard Communication Standard, 29 C.F.R. 1910.1200, by failing to inform them about the chemicals to which they were exposed and by failing to provide the requisite protective equipment. No members of the putative class have suffered an injury or illness linked to the substances used at Genova’s plant. The Third Circuit affirmed the dismissal of the suit as barred by the two-year limitations period. Reasonable minds would not differ in finding that the plaintiffs did not exercise the reasonable diligence required for the discovery rule to toll the statute of limitations. Information concerning the dangers of the chemicals to which they were exposed was widely available for decades before they filed their complaint. View "Blanyar v. Genova Products Inc" on Justia Law