Justia Class Action Opinion Summaries
Ford Motor Credit Co. v. Miller
The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the circuit court finding that Ford Motor Credit Company, LLC failed to meet its evidentiary burden to show the existence of an arbitration agreement in this case surrounding a dispute over the unpaid balance on an automobile loan, holding that the circuit court erred.Ford Credit sued Ronald Miller for the alleged balance due on a loan. Miller asserted a class action counterclaim for unlawful debt collection practices, in response to which Ford Credit filed a motion to compel arbitration. The circuit court denied the motion, concluding that Ford Credit failed to provide evidence that an arbitration agreement existed. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded the case, holding that the existence of an arbitration agreement between the parties had been established. View "Ford Motor Credit Co. v. Miller" on Justia Law
Barajas v. Satvia L.A. County Water Dist.
The Sativa Water District was created in 1938 under the County Water District Law to provide potable drinking water to the residents living in a neighborhood in the unincorporated community of Willowbrook and parts of the City of Compton within Los Angeles County. On July 9, 2018, four named individuals— (collectively, Plaintiffs)—filed a putative class action lawsuit against the Sativa Water District. The Sativa Water District moved to dismiss Plaintiffs’ entire lawsuit. Following a briefing, a hearing, and supplemental briefing, the trial court granted the motion. Plaintiffs asserted that the trial court erred in (1) granting the Sativa Water District’s motion for judgment on the pleadings, (2) denying Plaintiffs’ motion to vacate the order dismissing the County as a defendant, and (3) decertifying their class as to the nuisance claim. The Second Appellate District affirmed. The court explained that the Reorganization Act grants a LAFCO discretion whether to permit a district to wind up its own affairs or whether instead to appoint a successor agency responsible for doing so. Because the LAFCO, in this case, took the latter route, Plaintiffs’ class action lawsuit against the dissolved district must be dismissed. The court further concluded that the trial court’s dismissal of the successor agency was proper because Legislature expressly granted civil immunity to that agency. View "Barajas v. Satvia L.A. County Water Dist." on Justia Law
Nicholas Brunts v. Walmart, Inc.
Plaintiff filed a class action lawsuit against Walmart in the Circuit Court for St. Louis County, Missouri. Plaintiff alleged Walmart engaged in misleading and deceptive marketing practices by selling cough suppressants with dextromethorphan hydrobromide (“DXM”) and a “non-drowsy” label. Walmart removed the case to the Eastern District of Missouri, and Plaintiff moved to have the case remanded to state court. The district court remanded, finding Walmart had not met the Class Action Fairness Act’s jurisdictional requirement of showing the amount in controversy exceeds $5 million. The Eighth Circuit reversed, finding that Walmart has shown the amount in controversy exceeds $5 million. The court concluded that Walmart’s declaration was sufficient to support a finding that sales exceeded $5 million. The total amount of sales can be a measure of the amount in controversy. The court explained that the declaration was sufficient, particularly when it is very plausible that a company the size of Walmart would have sold more than $5 million in cough suppressants in the state of Missouri over a period of five years. View "Nicholas Brunts v. Walmart, Inc." on Justia Law
Erie Insurance Exchange v. Erie Indemnity Co
Exchange, an unincorporated association, is a reciprocal insurance exchange under Pennsylvania law, owned by its members, who are subscribers to Erie's insurance plans. Exchange has no independent officers nor a governing body. Indemnity, a Pennsylvania corporation, is the managing agent and attorney-in-fact for Exchange and receives a management fee from Exchange’s funds.Erie subscribers (Stephenson Plaintiffs) sued Indemnity in state court, claiming that Indemnity breached its fiduciary duty by charging an excessive management fee. They brought the case as a class action under Pennsylvania law on behalf of themselves and other “Pennsylvania residents” who subscribed to Erie policies. Invoking federal jurisdiction under the Class Action Fairness Act, 119 Stat. 4 (CAFA), Indemnity removed the case to federal court. The Stephenson Plaintiffs voluntarily dismissed the case. A month later, Exchange filed another case in state court, alleging that Indemnity breached its fiduciary duty by charging an excessive management fee; the case is not pled as a class action but is pled in Exchange’s name “by” “Individual Plaintiffs,” on behalf of Exchange, “to benefit all members of Exchange.”Indemnity removed the case, again citing CAFA. The district court remanded the case to state court. The Third Circuit affirmed, rejecting arguments that the district court had jurisdiction because the case is a “class action” for purposes of CAFA or that federal jurisdiction exists because this case is a continuation of a previous federal class action against Indemnity involving similar parties and claims. View "Erie Insurance Exchange v. Erie Indemnity Co" on Justia Law
North American Title Company v. Super. Ct.
In this labor dispute, Petitioner, the employer, filed a statement of disqualification seeking to remove the trial judge based on comments made during oral argument. However, Petitioner waited one year after the judge's comments to file the statement. The trial court determined that Petitioner waived the right to file a statement of disqualification.Finding the order striking Petitioner's statement of disqualification was flawed in several respects, the Fifth Appellate District vacated the trial court's order and provided the judge three days from the date the statement of disqualification is reinstated to respond before being deemed to have consented to disqualification by operation of time. View "North American Title Company v. Super. Ct." on Justia Law
Clark v. A&L Homecare & Training Center, LLC
The named plaintiffs, former home-health aides, sued A&L under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), claiming that A&L had paid them less than the correct overtime rate and under-reimbursed their expenses. Plaintiffs may bring such claims on behalf of other “similarly situated” employees. 29 U.S.C. 216(b). The plaintiffs sought to facilitate notice of their action to three groups of other employees who had worked for A&L. The court adopted a two-step procedure under which it would facilitate such notice following “conditional certification,” which required a “modest factual showing” that the other employees are “similarly situated” to the original plaintiffs. When merits discovery is complete, the court must grant “final certification” for the case to proceed as a collective action. The court applied that “fairly lenient” standard, and “conditionally certified” two groups for receiving notice. The court declined to facilitate notice to employees who had left A&L more than two years before or who had signed a “valid arbitration agreement” with A&L.On interlocutory appeal, the Sixth Circuit rejected the lenient standard, vacated the notice determination, and remanded for redetermination of that issue under the strong-likelihood standard. The court noted that the decision to send notice of an FLSA suit to other employees is often dispositive, in the sense of forcing a settlement. As a practical matter, it is not possible to conclusively make “similarly situated” determinations as to employees who are not present in the case. View "Clark v. A&L Homecare & Training Center, LLC" on Justia Law
Bakov v. Consolidated World Travel, Inc.
Plaintiffs asserted that CWT violated the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) by calling class members using prerecorded messages. Plaintiffs moved to certify a nationwide class of people who had received VVT’s calls. The district court certified a class of Illinois residents, believing that Supreme Court precedent required a finding of no personal jurisdiction over CWT for purposes of the claims of the proposed nonresident class members. Plaintiffs used third-party service providers to identify and send notices to the 28,239 Illinois class members.The district court granted the class summary judgment on the TCPA claim, finding that CWT’s TCPA violations were committed willfully or knowingly. A subsequent Seventh Circuit decision undercut the reason behind limiting the class to Illinois. The court re-opened that question, certified a nationwide class. and granted that class summary judgment, holding that the new class members were entitled to notice and an opportunity to opt-out. The district court ordered CWT to bear the costs of providing notice to the nationwide class, reasoning that CWT’s liability already had been established. The Seventh Circuit affirmed. While it would be unfair to shift costs to a defendant based solely on “[a] bare allegation of wrongdoing,” in these unusual circumstances, the court had the authority to assign costs to CWT. View "Bakov v. Consolidated World Travel, Inc." on Justia Law
Kinder v. Capistrano Beach Care Center
Plaintiff was a resident at a residential skilled nursing facility when she sustained injuries in a fall. She sued the facility, Capistrano Beach Care Center, LLC dba Capistrano Beach Care Center (CBCC), and its operator, Cambridge Healthcare Services, LLC (collectively, Defendants). Defendants petitioned to compel arbitration, claiming Plaintiff was bound by arbitration agreements purportedly signed on her behalf by her adult children. The trial court denied the petition, concluding defendants had failed to prove Plaintiff’s adult children had actual or ostensible authority to execute the arbitration agreements on Plaintiff’s behalf. The Second Appellate District affirmed. The court explained that CBCC did not meet its initial burden to make a prima facie showing that Plaintiff agreed to arbitrate by submitting arbitration agreements signed by Plaintiff’s adult children. CBCC presented no evidence that the children had actual or ostensible authority to execute the arbitration agreement on Plaintiff’s behalf beyond their own representations in the agreements. The court wrote that a defendant cannot meet its burden to prove the signatory acted as the agent of a plaintiff by relying on representations of the purported agent alone. View "Kinder v. Capistrano Beach Care Center" on Justia Law
LULAC Texas v. Hughes
After the Texas Legislature amended the Election Code in 2021, the United States and others sued, alleging the changes were racially discriminatory. When Plaintiffs sought discovery from individual, nonparty state legislators, those legislators withheld some documents, citing legislative privilege. The district court largely rejected the legislators’ privilege claims, and they filed this interlocutory appeal. The Fifth Circuit reversed. The court explained that for their part, the legislators rely on the privilege for each of the disputed documents. Plaintiffs, too, do not argue that the documents are non-legislative. Instead, they argue only that the privilege either “was waived” or “must yield.” The court wrote that the legislators did not waive the legislative privilege when they “communicated with parties outside the legislature, such as party leaders and lobbyists.” The district court’s contrary holding flouts the rule that the privilege covers “legislators’ actions in the proposal, formulation, and passage of legislation.” Finally, the court reasoned that Plaintiffs’ reliance on Jefferson Community Health Care Centers, Inc. v. Jefferson Parish Government is misplaced. That decision stated that “while the common-law legislative immunity for state legislators is absolute, the legislative privilege for state lawmakers is, at best, one which is qualified.” But that case provides no support for the idea that state legislators can be compelled to produce documents concerning the legislative process and a legislator’s subjective thoughts and motives. View "LULAC Texas v. Hughes" on Justia Law
Roberts v. Genting
On January 6, 2014, Defendant Genting New York LLC, d/b/a Resorts World Casino New York City ("Genting"), closed the Aqueduct Buffet (the "Buffet"), a restaurant located inside the Resorts World Casino (the "Casino") where Plaintiffs worked. Genting gave Plaintiffs no notice of the closure, which took effect the same day and resulted in 177 employees being laid off. The next week, Plaintiffs filed a putative class action against Genting, alleging that its failure to provide notice violated the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (the "WARN Act"), and New York Labor Law Section 860 et seq. (the "New York WARN Act"). On cross-motions for summary judgment, the district court denied Plaintiffs' motion and granted Genting's. On appeal, Plaintiffs argue that the district court erred in granting summary judgment for Genting because, they claim, a reasonable jury could only conclude that the Buffet was either an operating unit or a single site of employment under the WARN Acts. The Second Circuit affirmed in part and vacated in part. The court explained that Genting is not entitled to summary judgment because a reasonable finder of fact could conclude that the Buffet was an operating unit. Likewise, there is also evidence in the record to support the conclusion that the Buffet was not an operating unit. It will be for the finder of fact at trial to weigh the evidence comprising the "somewhat mixed" record in this case to answer the question. The court concluded that the district court erred in granting summary judgment for Genting and in dismissing Plaintiffs' claims under the WARN Acts. View "Roberts v. Genting" on Justia Law