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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

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Defendant Chaparral Energy, L.L.C. (Chaparral) operated approximately 2,500 oil and gas wells in Oklahoma. Plaintiffs Naylor Farms, Inc. and Harrel’s, L.L.C. (collectively, Naylor Farms) had royalty interests in some of those wells. According to Naylor Farms, Chaparral systematically underpaid Naylor Farms and other similarly situated royalty owners by improperly deducting from their royalty payments certain gas-treatment costs that Naylor Farms contended Chaparral was required to shoulder under Oklahoma law. Naylor Farms brought a putative class-action lawsuit against Chaparral and moved to certify the class under Rule 23 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. The district court granted Naylor Farms’ motion to certify, and Chaparral appealed the district court’s certification order. After review, the Tenth Circuit concluded Chaparral failed to demonstrate the district court’s decision to certify the class fell outside “the bounds of rationally available choices given the facts and law involved in the matter at hand.” View "Naylor Farms v. Chaparral Energy" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the court of appeals reversing the judgment of the trial court concluding that Petitioner, who represented a putative class of citizens seeking to strike down state statutes and a city's ordinance authorizing use of red-light cameras as a traffic-enforcement tool, was not required to seek an administrative remedy before filing his case in district court, holding that Petitioner lacked standing to bring one of his claims, that governmental immunity applied to another claim, and that Petitioner was required to seek administrative relief before filing a takings claim in district court. In reversing, the court of appeals concluded that the trial court had no jurisdiction over Petitioner's claims because Petitioner had failed to seek administrative relief. The Supreme Court affirmed but for different reasons, holding (1) Petitioner lacked standing to bring his prospective claims for declaratory and injunctive relief; (2) governmental immunity barred Petitioner's reimbursement claim; (3) Petitioner was required to exhaust his administrative remedies before bringing his constitutional takings claim in district court; and (4) an amended pleading would not cure the defects in Petitioner's claims. View "Garcia v. City of Willis" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs sought to represent a proposed class of 20,000 current and former Penn employees who participated in Penn's Retirement Plan since August 2010. The Plan is a defined contribution plan under 29 U.S.C. 1002(34), tax-qualified under 26 U.S.C. 403(b), offering mutual funds and annuities. The University matches employees’ contributions up to 5% of compensation. As of December 2014, the Plan offered 48 Vanguard mutual funds, and 30 TIAA-CREF mutual funds, fixed and variable annuities, and an insurance company separate account. In 2012, Penn organized its investment fund lineup into four tiers, ranging from lifecycle or target-date funds for the “Do-it-for-me” investor to the option of a brokerage account window for the “self-directed” investor looking for additional options. Plan participants could select a combination of funds from the investment tiers. TIAA-CREF and Vanguard charge investment and administrative fees. The district court dismissed plaintiffs’ suit for breach of fiduciary duty, prohibited transactions, and failure to monitor fiduciaries under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), 29 U.S.C. 1001-1461, which alleged that defendants failed to use prudent and loyal decision-making processes regarding investments and administration, overpaid certain fees by up to 600%, and failed to remove underperforming options from the Plan’s offerings. The Third Circuit reversed and remanded the dismissal of the breach of fiduciary duty claims. While the complaint may not have directly alleged how Penn mismanaged the Plan, there was substantial circumstantial evidence from which the court could “reasonably infer” that a breach had occurred. View "Sweda v. University of Pennsylvania" on Justia Law

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In this appeal from the circuit court's order certifying a class action lawsuit filed by Employees against Employer, the Supreme Court remanded the case with instructions to enter an order that complies with Ark. R. Civ. P. 23, holding that the order must reflect the circuit court's analysis to determine whether the Rule 23 requirements have been met. Employees filed this suit pursuant to the Arkansas Minimum Wage Act, Ark. Code Ann. 11-4-201 et seq., for unpaid overtime. After filing their complaint Employees moved to certify a class of individuals who were, are, or will be employed by Employer as hourly paid employees. The circuit court granted Employees' motion for class certification. The Supreme Court remanded the case with instructions, holding that, in conformity with Industrial Welding Supplies of Hattiesburg, LLC v. Pinson, 530 S.W.3d 854 (Ark. 2017), the class certification order was deficient. View "Koppers, Inc. v. Trotter" on Justia Law

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Wyndham has four Tennessee resorts, where front-line sales employees sell ownership interests (timeshares) to people who do not own Wyndham timeshares. In-house sales employees sell upgraded timeshares to existing owners. Discovery sales employees sell non-ownership trials. Wyndham’s sales people receive a minimum-wage draw based on the hours they record each week, which is deducted from their commissions. In 2009, Wyndham began paying overtime. Plaintiffs filed suit (Fair Labor Standards Act, 29 U.S.C. 207(a)(1)), alleging that Wyndham required sales employees to underreport their hours or altered their timesheets to avoid paying overtime. The district court certified 156 employees from all three positions as a collective action. After a bench trial, the court found that, on average, each employee had worked 52 hours per week during the recovery period and awarded $2,512,962.91 in overtime pay and an equal amount in liquidated damages. The Sixth Circuit affirmed in part. The court properly certified the collective action as to in-house and front-line salespeople. The discovery salespeople, however, had a different title and sold a different product. A common policy cannot overcome the factual differences between the groups (what they sold and when they started work), which goes to the heart of the claim (total hours worked each week). The evidence, “representative, direct, circumstantial, in-person, by deposition, or otherwise,” supports a finding that Wyndham violated the Act by failing to pay overtime. The court remanded the issue of damages. View "Pierce v. Wyndham Vacation Resorts, Inc." on Justia Law

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Ten children in the Arizona foster care system filed a class action against the directors of the Arizona Department of Child Safety and the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System, alleging that Arizona's state-wide policies and practices deprived them of required medical services, among other things, and thus subjected them to a substantial risk of harm. After the district court certified a class of all children who are or will be in the Department of Child Safety's custody, along with two subclasses, the agencies appealed. The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's certification of the General Class and held that the district court did not err or abuse its discretion in its rulings on standing, commonality, typicality, and uniform injunctive relief. The panel also affirmed the district court's certification of the Non-Kinship Subclass, but vacated the Medicaid Subclass. The panel held that the district court abused its discretion by certifying the Medicaid Subclass based on an apparent misconception of the legal framework for such a claim. Accordingly, the panel remanded for further proceedings. View "B.K. v. Snyder" on Justia Law

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Multidistrict litigation was formed to handle claims filed by former professional football players against the NFL based on concussion-related injuries. The district court (Judge Brody) approved a settlement agreement, effective January 2017. The Third Circuit affirmed; the Supreme Court denied certiorari. Under the agreement, approximately 200,000 class members surrendered their claims in exchange for proceeds from an uncapped settlement fund. Class members had to submit medical records reflecting a qualifying diagnosis. The Claims Administrator determines whether the applicant qualifies for an award. In March 2017, the claims submission process opened for class members who had been diagnosed with a qualifying illness before January 7, 2017. Other class members had to receive a diagnosis from a practitioner approved through the settlement Baseline Assessment Program (BAP). Class members could register for BAP appointments beginning in June 2017. While waiting to receive their awards, hundreds of class members entered into cash advance agreements with litigation funding companies, purporting to “assign” their rights to settlement proceeds in exchange for immediate cash. Class members did not assign their legal claims against the NFL. Judge Brody retained jurisdiction over the administration of the settlement agreement, which included an anti-assignment provision. Class counsel advised Judge Brody that he was concerned about predatory lending. Judge Brody ordered class members to inform the Claims Administrator of all assignment agreements, and purported to void all such agreements, directing a procedure under which funding companies could accept rescission and return of the principal amount they had advanced. The Third Circuit vacated. Despite having the authority to void prohibited assignments, the court went too far in voiding the cash advance agreements and voiding contractual provisions that went only to a lender’s right to receive funds after the player acquired them. View "In Re: National Football League Players Concussion Injury Litigation." on Justia Law

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In this defendant class action, the defendant class argued that the district court erred in certifying the class without simultaneously appointing counsel for the class and in failing to properly analyze the adequacy of class counsel. The Fourth Circuit agreed that the district court failed to follow Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23 on both of these issues, but nevertheless affirmed the district court's judgment in light of the unusual circumstances of this case. The court held that Class Members waived the arguments they now assert regarding the untimely appointment of class counsel and the failure of the court to consider the Rule 23(g) factors, and the litigation has progressed to an extent that it would be difficult if not impossible to remedy the errors Class Members now raise. View "Bell v. Brockett" on Justia Law