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This appeal arose from 532 product-liability claims filed against Hoffmann-La Roche Inc. and Roche Laboratories Inc. (collectively Roche), corporations with their principal places of business in New Jersey. Roche developed, manufactured, marketed, and labeled Accutane, a prescription medication for the treatment of severe and persistent cases of acne. Plaintiffs alleged Accutane caused them to contract inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and that Roche failed to give adequate label warnings to advise them of the known risks of the medication. At issue for the New Jersey Supreme Court was : (1) what law governed whether Roche’s label warnings were adequate (the law of each of the 45 jurisdictions in which plaintiffs were prescribed and took Accutane or the law of New Jersey where the 532 cases are consolidated); and (2) the adequacy of the label warnings for the period after April 2002. The Court found that because Roche’s warnings received the approval of the FDA, they enjoyed a “rebuttable presumption” of adequacy under New Jersey’s Products Liability Act (PLA). The Court reversed all cases in which the Appellate Division reinstated plaintiffs’ actions against Roche. "New Jersey has the most significant interests, given the consolidation of the 532 cases for MCL purposes. New Jersey’s interest in consistent, fair, and reliable outcomes cannot be achieved by applying a diverse quilt of laws to so many cases that share common issues of fact. Plaintiffs have not overcome the PLA’s presumption of adequacy for medication warnings approved by the FDA. As a matter of law, the warnings provided physicians with adequate information to warn their patients of the risks of IBD." As a result, the 532 failure-to-warn cases brought by plaintiffs against Roche were dismissed. View "Accutane Litigation" on Justia Law

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The appeal presented to the Court of Appeal here was one in a certified wage and hour class action following a judgment after a bench trial in favor of defendants Certified Tire and Services Centers, Inc. (Certified Tire) and Barrett Business Services. Inc. (collectively, defendants). Plaintiffs contended Certified Tire violated the applicable minimum wage and rest period requirements by implementing a compensation program, which guaranteed its automotive technicians a specific hourly wage above the minimum wage for all hours worked during each pay period but also gave them the possibility of earning a higher hourly wage for all hours worked during each pay period based on certain productivity measures. The Court of Appeal concluded plaintiffs' arguments lacked merit, and accordingly affirmed the judgment. View "Certified Tire and Service Centers Wage and Hour Cases" on Justia Law

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Objecting class members challenged the district court's approval of a class action settlement over claims alleging that defendants enrolled consumers in a membership rewards program without their consent and then mishandled their billing information. The Ninth Circuit vacated the fee award and held that the district court failed to treat credits as coupons under the Class Action Fairness Act when calculating the award. The panel held, however, that the district court did not abuse its discretion by approving the use of cy pres in this case or to approve the particular recipients. Finally, it was unnecessary to reverse the entire settlement approval in conjunction with the panel's vacatur of the fee award. The panel remanded the award of attorney's fees but otherwise affirmed the settlement. View "Romero v. Provide Commerce, Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs, home mortgage consultants, alleged they were misclassified as exempt employees by Wells Fargo. ILG, a law firm, represented approximately 600 Wells Fargo consultants alleging the same claim as the Lofton class in multiple lawsuits; the ILG suits were dismissed because the underlying claims were resolved in Lofton. In 2014, the court of appeal affirmed an order, requiring ILG to deposit into a court-supervised escrow account over $5 million of settlement proceeds ILG claimed as attorneys’ fees. ILG had concealed that settlement from the Lofton court and its class member clients. The TRO was predicated on an allegation that ILG’s clients were actually members of the class compensated by the $19 million “Lofton” settlement and that ILG was compensating itself out of the separate settlement without court approval. On remand, the trial court concluded ILG was not entitled to attorney’s fees. The monies on deposit with the court were directed to be paid to the class members who participated in the settlement. The court of appeal affirmed. Until the trial court did something about it, ILG had constructive possession of the entire $6 million settlement and control over its disbursement. ILG received due process. Nothing in this record demonstrates that ILG’s services in securing $750 for each of its 600 clients and facilitating their participation in Lofton were worth the $5.5 million it claimed in attorneys’ fees. View "Lofton v. Wells Fargo Home Mortgage" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court's order denying class certification in this putative class action alleging wage and hour violations against defendants. The court held that substantial evidence supported the trial court's conclusion that individual questions would predominate in determining which class members actually have a claim for missed rest breaks. The court also held that the trial court acted within its discretion in finding plaintiff was not an adequate class representative, and in denying leave to substitute another representative in light of the age of the case and the futility of doing so. View "Payton v. CSI Electrical Contractors" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs, current and former Uber drivers, filed putative class actions alleging that Uber violated various federal and state statutes by, among other things, misclassifying drivers as independent contractors rather than employees. The Ninth Circuit previously considered and reversed the district court's orders denying Uber's motions to compel arbitration in Mohamed v. Uber Technologies, Inc., 848 F.3d 1201, 1206 (9th Cir. 2016). In this case, the panel rejected plaintiffs' additional arguments as to why the arbitration agreements were unenforceable. Because the class certification by the district court was premised on the district court's determination that the arbitration agreements were unenforceable, the panel reversed class certification. The panel also held that the Rule 23(d) orders were based on the district court’s denial of the motions to compel arbitration and its granting of class certification. Because these decisions must be reversed, there was no longer a basis for the district court's restrictions on Uber's communication with class and putative class members. Therefore, these orders were moot and the panel reversed. View "O'Connor v. Uber" on Justia Law

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The Eleventh Circuit held that the district court correctly determined that the availability of class arbitration was a question of arbitrability, presumptively for the court to decide, because it was the kind of gateway question that determined the type of dispute that would be arbitrated. In this case, defendants sought to compel arbitration on a class basis with JPay, a Miami-based company that provides fee-for-service amenities in prisons in more than thirty states. The court held, however, that the language the parties used in their contract expressed their clear intent to overcome the default presumption and to arbitrate gateway questions of arbitrability, including the availability of class arbitration. Therefore, the court vacated the district court's grant of summary judgment to JPay, reversed the denial of defendants' motion to compel arbitration, and remanded for further proceedings. View "JPay, Inc. v. Kobel" on Justia Law

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GAC appealed the district court's remand of plaintiff's putative class action to Los Angeles Superior Court. The Ninth Circuit held that the district court erroneously found that more than two-thirds of the putative class members were citizens of California at the time of removal. Therefore, the panel vacated the district court's remand to state court and remanded to federal district court for further proceedings. In district court, plaintiff should be permitted to conduct jurisdictional discovery in this matter and to renew her motion to remand. View "King v. Great American Chicken Corp, Inc." on Justia Law

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In 2008, Standard sued, on behalf of itself and “all others similarly situated," alleging that was injured when it “purchased several items of steel tubing [at an inflated price] indirectly … for end use," claiming that eight U.S. steel producers colluded to slash output to drive up the price of steel so that plaintiffs overpaid for steel sheets, rods, and tubing. Eight years later, the plaintiffs amended their complaint, asserting that they overpaid for end-use consumer goods, including vehicles, washing machines, and refrigerators, that were manufactured by third parties using steel. The district court dismissed the suit as time-barred because it redefines “steel products” to give rise to an entirely different, and exponentially larger, universe of plaintiffs, and, in the alternative, for not plausibly pleading a causal connection between the alleged antitrust conspiracy and plaintiffs’ own injuries. The Seventh Circuit affirmed. No reasonable defendant, reading the original complaint, would have imagined that plaintiffs were actually suing over the thousands of end-use household and commercial goods manufactured by third parties—a reading so broad that it would make nearly every person in the country a potential class member. The court further noted that it was unclear how to trace the effect of an alleged overcharge on steel through the complex supply and production chains that gave rise to consumer products. View "Supreme Auto Transport, LLC v. Arcelor Mittal USA, Inc." on Justia Law

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This appeal involved the South Carolina Home Builders Self Insurers Fund (Fund), which was created by the Home Builders Association of South Carolina, Inc. "for the purpose of meeting and fulfilling an employer's obligations and liabilities under the South Carolina Workers' Compensation Act." The dispute arose after the Fund's Board of Trustees announced plans to wind down the Fund and use the Fund's remaining assets to finance a new mutual insurance company. Petitioners, who were members of the Fund, disagreed with that decision and challenged the Board's authority to use the Fund's assets in such a way. The trial court twice dismissed Petitioners' suit, first on the basis that it involved the internal affairs of a trust and therefore should have been filed in probate court, then in a subsequent proceeding, on the basis that the lawsuit was a shareholder derivative action and that the complaint failed to comply with the pleading requirements of Rule 23(b)(1), SCRCP. On appeal, the court of appeals affirmed the dismissal of Petitioners' complaint, finding the trial court properly concluded (1) the Fund was not a trust; (2) Petitioners' claims were derivative in nature; and (3) that Petitioners' complaint was properly dismissed as it did not properly allege a pre-suit demand as required by Rule 23(b)(1). The South Carolina Supreme Court reversed and remanded, finding Petitioners satisfied the pleading requirements of Rule 23(b)(1), irrespective of whether the Fund was properly characterized as a trust. View "Patterson v. Witter" on Justia Law