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A California nonprofit mutual benefit corporation, Abella, sought relief from the enforcement of a final class action judgment against MI Windows entered in this multidistrict litigation. The district court rejected Abella's arguments that the district court lacked authority to enjoin its prosecution of the state action against MI Windows and that Abella should not be bound by the class action judgment because of the excusable neglect of its counsel in overlooking the opt-out deadline. The Fourth Circuit affirmed and held that the district court's injunction was justified by the "relitigation exception" of the Anti-Injunction Act, 28 U.S.C. 2283, and that the district court did not abuse its discretion in concluding that the neglect of Abella's counsel was not excusable. View "Abella Owners’ Ass'n v. MI Windows & Doors, Inc." on Justia Law

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Fulton received an unsolicited fax from Bisco and sued for damages under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, 47 U.S.C. 227. Before Fulton moved for class certification, Bisco tried to moot its claim by tendering an offer ($3,005 plus costs) under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 68 that, Bisco claimed, gave Fulton all possible individual relief. Two days after Bisco’s offer, the Supreme Court held that “an unaccepted settlement offer or offer of judgment does not moot a plaintiff’s case.” Fulton rejected the offer. Bisco then moved to deposit $3,600 with the court under Rule 67. The court dismissed the suit, concluding that Bisco’s maneuver mooted Fulton’s individual claim and disqualified it from serving as a class representative. The Seventh Circuit remanded, finding dismissal premature. Bisco’s payment did not moot the case; the court’s registry does not function as plaintiff’s account. An unaccepted offer to settle a case, accompanied by a payment intended to provide full compensation into the registry of the court under Rule 67, is no different in principle from an offer of settlement made under Rule 68. It is not clear, as a matter of law, that the unaccepted offer was sufficient to compensate Fulton for its loss of the opportunity to represent the putative class. View "Fulton Dental, LLC v. Bisco, Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs, most of whom are not California residents, sued BMS in California state court, alleging that the pharmaceutical company’s drug Plavix had damaged their health. BMS is incorporated in Delaware and headquartered in New York; it maintains substantial operations in New York and New Jersey. BMS engages in business activities in California and sells Plavix there, but did not develop, create a marketing strategy for, manufacture, label, package, or work on the regulatory approval for Plavix in California. The nonresident plaintiffs did not allege that they obtained Plavix from a California source, that they were injured in California, or that they were treated for their injuries in California. The California Superior Court found that it had general jurisdiction. The state supreme court found that BMS’s “wide-ranging” contacts with the state supported a finding of specific jurisdiction over the nonresident plaintiffs’ claims. The Supreme Court reversed. For general jurisdiction, the “paradigm forum” is an “individual’s domicile,” or, for corporations, “an equivalent place, one in which the corporation is fairly regarded as at home.” Specific jurisdiction requires the suit to “aris[e] out of or relat[e] to the defendant’s contacts with the forum.” The primary concern is the burden on the defendant. The California Supreme Court found specific jurisdiction without identifying any adequate link between the state and the nonresidents’ claims. It is not relevant that BMS conducted research in California on matters unrelated to Plavix. BMS’s decision to contract with a California company to distribute Plavix nationally does not provide a sufficient basis for personal jurisdiction. View "Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. v. Superior Court of California" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs brought a class action under 42 U.S.C. 1983, alleging that the practices of the Marion County Sheriff’s Department and the Consolidated City of Indianapolis and Marion County caused them to be detained in jail awaiting release for an unreasonably long period of time, in violation of the Fourth Amendment. The district court granted certification for two proposed subclasses but denied it as to three. Plaintiffs appealed, under FRCP 23(f), the denial of certification of classes consisting of individuals who, from December 2012 to the present, were held in confinement after legal authority for those detentions ceased, due to the Sheriff’s practices of operating under a standard of allowing up to 72 hours to release prisoners who are ordered released and of employing a computer system inadequate for the purposes intended with respect to timely release of prisoners. The Seventh Circuit allowed the interlocutory appeal and reversed. The district court believed that detentions of less than 48 hours would be presumptively reasonable, and those that extended beyond 48 hours would be presumptively unreasonable, subjecting class members to different burdens of proof. The court erred in applying the 48-hour presumption in the context of a class composed of persons for whom legal authority for detention has ceased, whether by acquittal, release on bond, completion of the sentence, or otherwise. View "Driver v. Marion County Sheriff's Department" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed a class action in state court claiming that the City of Montgomery's red-light program and fines violated state law. City and Traffic Solutions removed to federal court under the Class Action Fairness Act, 28 U.S.C. 1332(d), but the district court remanded to state court. After determining that it had jurisdiction over the appeal, the Eleventh Circuit held that the home state exception to CAFA jurisdiction was applicable in this case where the only primary defendant was a citizen of the state in which the action was originally filed and other requirements under the statute were met. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Hunter v. City of Montgomery, Alabama" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs and appellants Eugene G. Plantier, as Trustee of the Plantier Family Trust (Plantier); Progressive Properties Incorporated (Progressive); and Premium Development LLC (Premium), on behalf of themselves and all others similarly situated (collectively plaintiffs), appeal the judgment in favor of defendant and respondent Ramona Municipal Water District (District or RMWD). On appeal, plaintiffs contend the trial court erred when it found there was a mandatory exhaustion requirement in section 6 of article XIII D. Plaintiffs further contended they satisfied the administrative remedy in the Ramona Municipal Water District Legislative Code, and that, in any event, the exhaustion doctrine in section 6 should not have been applied to them because the remedy therein was inadequate and because it was "futile" to purse any administrative remedy under this constitutional provision. The Court of Appeal concluded plaintiffs' class action was not barred by their failure to exhaust the administrative remedies set forth in section 6 because plaintiffs' substantive challenge involving the method used by District to calculate its wastewater service fees or charges was outside the scope of the administrative remedies, and because, under the facts of this case, those remedies were, in any event, inadequate. View "Plantier v. Ramona Municipal Water Dist." on Justia Law

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The owners of Microsoft’s videogame console, Xbox 360, filed a putative class action alleging a design defect. The district court struck class allegations from the complaint. The Ninth Circuit denied permission to appeal that order under FRCP 23(f), which authorizes permissive interlocutory appeal of class certification orders. Instead of pursuing their individual claims, plaintiffs stipulated to a voluntary dismissal, then appealed, challenging only the interlocutory order striking their class allegations. The Ninth Circuit held it had jurisdiction to entertain the appeal under 28 U.S.C. 1291, applicable to “final decisions of the district courts,” and that the rationale for striking the class allegations was impermissible. The Supreme Court reversed. Federal courts of appeals lack jurisdiction under section 1291 to review an order denying class certification (or an order striking class allegations) after the named plaintiffs have voluntarily dismissed their claims with prejudice. Section 1291’s final-judgment rule preserves the proper balance between trial and appellate courts, minimizes the harassment and delay that would result from repeated interlocutory appeals, and promotes the efficient administration of justice. Under plaintiffs’ theory, plaintiffs alone could determine whether and when to appeal an adverse certification ruling, allowing indiscriminate appellate review of interlocutory orders. Plaintiffs in putative class actions cannot transform interlocutory orders into section 1291 final judgments simply by dismissing their claims with prejudice. Finality “is not a technical concept of temporal or physical termination.” View "Microsoft Corp. v. Baker" on Justia Law

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In consolidated class actions, plaintiffs claimed the brokers who represented them in the sale of their homes and a group of companies that provided services in connection with those sales violated their fiduciary duties by failing to disclose alleged kickbacks paid by the service providers to the brokers in connection with the sales. Defendants filed motions to compel arbitration on the basis of three separate agreements, at least one of which was executed by each plaintiff. The trial court found the arbitration clauses in two of the agreements inapplicable, but compelled the signatories of the third agreement to arbitrate with their brokers. Invoking the doctrine of equitable estoppel, the court also required the signatories of the third agreement to arbitrate their claims against the service providers, who were not parties to the arbitration agreements. The court of appeals reversed with respect to the two arbitration clauses the lower court found inapplicable. Each of the plaintiffs executed one or the other of these two agreements. The court dismissed the cross-appeal of the plaintiffs who were required to arbitrate because an order compelling arbitration is not appealable. View "Laymon v. J. Rockcliff, Inc." on Justia Law

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The National Labor Relations Board sought enforcement of its Order finding that AEI violated the National Labor Relations Act by barring employees from pursuing class-action litigation or collective arbitration of work-related claims and by forbidding an AEI technician from discussing a proposed compensation change with his coworkers and by firing that technician for discussing the proposed change and complaining to management about it. AEI employees sign an agreement that “Disputes … relating to your employment” must, at the election of the employee or the company, be resolved “exclusively through binding arbitration” and that “you and AEI also agree that a claim may not be arbitrated as a class action, also called ‘representative’ or ‘collective’ actions, and that a claim may not otherwise be consolidated or joined with the claims of others.” AEI’s employee handbook prohibits “[u]nauthorized disclosure of business secrets or confidential business or customer information, including any compensation or employee salary information.” The Sixth Circuit enforced the order. An arbitration provision requiring employees covered by the Act individually to arbitrate all employment-related claims is not enforceable. The evidence was adequate to support the ALJ’s factual findings and conclusion that DeCommer was fired for engaging in protected, concerted activity View "National Labor Relations Board v. Alternative Entertainment, Inc." on Justia Law

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AMR provides ambulance services in more than 15 California counties, employing dispatchers, call takers, drivers, emergency medical technicians (EMT’s), paramedics and nurses. Plaintiffs, four current or former employees, claimed that AMR failed to provide the meal and rest periods to which they were entitled under Labor Code sections 226.7 and 512 and the applicable wage orders issued by the California Industrial Welfare Commission. They alleged a class claim under the Labor Code; a class claim under Business and Professions Code section 17200, the Unfair Competition Law; and a claim for civil penalties under the Private Attorneys General Act of 2004 (PAGA), a representative action not subject to class action requirements. The court of appeal reversed the trial court’s denial of class certification as based on an incorrect legal assumption about the nature of rest periods: that a rest period during which an employee remains on call may be considered an off-duty rest period. The court acknowledged that there may be other bases on which the trial court may conclude on remand that plaintiffs have not shown the predominance of common issues required for class certification of their overarching rest period claim. View "Bartoni v. American Medical Response West" on Justia Law