Justia Class Action Opinion Summaries
City of Fort Smith v. Merriott
The Supreme Court reversed the order of the circuit court denying the City of Fort Smith's motion to compel class notice on Plaintiff's claims alleging illegal exaction and unjust enrichment against on the ground that the City waived notice by moving for summary judgment prior to class certification and notice, holding that the circuit court erroneously interpreted National Enterprises, Inc. v. Kessler, 213 S.W.3d 597 (Ark. 2005). Plaintiff alleged that the City misused public funds from the City's curbside residential recycling program. Twelve days after her complaint was filed Plaintiff moved for class certification. The City responded to the class certification motion and, separately, moved for summary judgment. The circuit court then certified the same class for both claims and, three months later, denied the City's motion for summary judgment. The City later filed its motion to compel class notice. The circuit court held that, under Kessler, the timing of the City's motion for summary judgment waived notice even though the motion was ultimately successful. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the circuit court's decision was premised on an erroneous interpretation of the Supreme Court's decision in Kessler. View "City of Fort Smith v. Merriott" on Justia Law
Joiner v. SVM Management, LLC
Plaintiffs rented an apartment in a large residential complex from the defendant with a lease term beginning on October 1, 2014, with a security deposit of $1290. The plaintiffs moved out on September 30, 2016. In October 2016, the defendant returned the full security deposit but did not pay security interest on that deposit at any time, as required by the Security Deposit Interest Act, 765 ILCS 715/0.01. Plaintiffs brought two class-action claims and an individual claim but did not file a class-certification motion. Defendant responded by tendering plaintiffs’ requested damages and attorney fees on one count and later moving to dismiss the other two. Plaintiffs refused that tender, and the defendant later argued that its tender made that cause of action moot. The Illinois Supreme Court affirmed the dismissal of the case. Reaffirming its own precedent, the court held that an effective tender made before a named plaintiff purporting to represent a class files a class certification motion satisfies the named plaintiff’s individual claim and moots her interest in the litigation. The court distinguished U.S. Supreme Court and Seventh Circuit decisions that dealt with an offer of judgment under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, which are an offer of settlement, as opposed to a tender that completely satisfies a plaintiff’s demand. On remand, the defendant is to deposit the tender with the circuit court, which is to determine the plaintiffs’ costs and reasonable attorney fees before dismissing contingent upon payment of those costs and fees. View "Joiner v. SVM Management, LLC" on Justia Law
Frlekin v. Apple Inc.
The Supreme Court granted the request of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit to decide a question of California law regarding Industrial Welfare Commission wage order No. 7-2001 (Wage Order 7), which requires employers to pay their employees a minimum wage for all "hours worked," concluding that time spent on the employer's premises waiting for, and undergoing, mandatory exit searches of bags, packages, or personal technology devices voluntarily brought to work purely for personal convenience by employees is compensable as "hours worked" within the meaning of Wage Order 7. Employees filed a class action complaint against Employer, Apple Inc., alleging that Employer failed to pay them minimum and overtime wages for time spent waiting for and undergoing Employer's exit searches in violation of California law. A federal district court granted summary judgment for Employer. On appeal, the Ninth Circuit asked the Supreme Court to address the state law issue. The Supreme Court concluded that, in the instant case, Employees' time spent on Employer's premises waiting for, and undergoing, required exit searches of packages, bags, or personal technology devices, such as iPhones, brought to work purely for personal convenience, is compensable as "hours worked" within the meaning of Wage Order 7. View "Frlekin v. Apple Inc." on Justia Law
Aiken v. So. Carolina Dept. of Rev.
Respondents, individually and as members of a putative class, brought a declaratory judgment action against the South Carolina Department of Revenue seeking refunds of amounts garnished from their wages by the Department to satisfy delinquent debts they allegedly owed to other governmental entities. The sole issue on appeal centered on the circuit court's grant of Respondents' motion to strike one defense from the Department's answer to Respondents' second amended complaint: that South Carolina Revenue Procedures Act (RPA) subsection 12-60-80(C) prohibited this action from proceeding as a class action against the Department. The Department appealed the circuit court's order to the court of appeals, and the Supreme Court certified the Department's appeal pursuant to Rule 204(b) of the South Carolina Appellate Court Rules. After review, the Supreme Court reversed the circuit court and held this case could not proceed as a class action against the Department. View "Aiken v. So. Carolina Dept. of Rev." on Justia Law
Grande v. Eisenhower Medical Center
Temporary staffing agency FlexCare, LLC assigned Lynn Grande to work as a nurse at Eisenhower Medical Center (Eisenhower). According to Grande, during her employment at Eisenhower, FlexCare and Eisenhower failed to ensure she received her required meal and rest breaks, wages for certain periods she worked, and overtime wages. Grande was a named plaintiff in a class action lawsuit against FlexCare brought on behalf of FlexCare employees assigned to hospitals throughout California. Her own claims were based solely on her work on assignment at Eisenhower. FlexCare settled with the class, including Grande, and Grande received $162.13 for her injuries, plus a class representative incentive bonus of $20,000. Grande executed a release of claims, and the trial court entered a judgment incorporating the settlement agreement. About a year later, Grande brought a second class action alleging the same labor law violations, this time against Eisenhower, who was not a party to the previous lawsuit. FlexCare intervened in the action asserting Grande could not bring the separate lawsuit against Eisenhower because she had settled her claims against them in the prior class action. The trial court held a trial narrowed to questions as to the propriety of the lawsuit, and ruled Eisenhower was not a released party under the settlement agreement and could not avail itself of the doctrine of res judicata because the hospital was neither a party to the prior litigation nor in privity with FlexCare. Eisenhower petitioned for a petition for a writ of mandate and FlexCare appealed the trial court’s interlocutory order. The Court of appeal concurred with the trial court on grounds that Eisenhower and FlexCare were not in privity, preventing Eisenhower from blocking Grande’s claims under the doctrine of res judicata, and Eisenhower was not a released party under the settlement agreement. Therefore the appellate court denied mandamus relief. View "Grande v. Eisenhower Medical Center" on Justia Law
Downey v. Public Storage, Inc.
The Court of Appeal held that where, as here, a proposed class action lawsuit seeks restitution for violations of the Unfair Competition Law and false advertising law based on a series of allegedly deceptive advertisements offering a special promotional rate but defines the class as everyone who received the special promotional rate, the plaintiffs must establish that the following "elements" are "susceptible of common proof"—namely, (1) that the class members were exposed to the advertisements, and (2) that the various permutations of the advertisements were deceptive. The court held that the language in In re Tobacco II Cases (2009) 46 Cal.4th 298, is not to the contrary. The court also held that the trial court's finding that the issues of exposure and deceptiveness were not susceptible of common proof was supported by substantial evidence. View "Downey v. Public Storage, Inc." on Justia Law
McClain v. Hanna
McClain sued Hanna and Hanna’s two law firms under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, 15 U.S.C. 1692, and an analogous Michigan statute, Mich. Comp. Laws 445.251, asserting both individual and class claims. Within a week, Hanna offered McClain a settlement under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 68. That settlement allowed judgment to be entered in McClain’s favor “as to all counts” of his complaint and gave McClain his full damages (both actual and statutory) plus his litigation costs and reasonable attorney’s fees. Four days later, McClain accepted the settlement offer but simultaneously filed a “placeholder” motion for class certification, apparently to preempt a mootness ruling. Even so, the district court found the class claims to be moot and dismissed both the individual and class claims. McClain noted that the settlement called for judgment in his favor; the court entered an amended judgment “for Plaintiff Theodore McClain as to all counts in Plaintiff’s complaint[.]” The Sixth Circuit affirmed, declining to address mootness because the judgment did not declare any of the claims moot. Parties may not challenge a judgment to which they have consented. McClain waived his right to pursue the class claims. View "McClain v. Hanna" on Justia Law
Burkhart v. Genworth Financial, Inc.
In this class action complaint brought under the Delaware Uniform Fraudulent Transfer Act (DUFTA) alleging that Genworth Life Insurance Company (GLIC) engaged in both actual and constructive fraudulent transfers the Court of Chancery granted in part and denied in part GLIC's motion to dismiss, holding that Plaintiffs' attempts to reverse some of GLIC's dividends were time barred. Plaintiffs, a class of insureds who held long-term care insurance policies and insurance agents who alleged that they were entitled to commission payments for selling such payments, alleged that on the brink of its failure, GLIC's owners engaged in an intentional plan to syphon off GLIC's assets. In their class action complaint Plaintiffs asked the Court of Chancery to restore to GLIC the value of the assets that were syphoned away from 2012 to 2014. In response, Defendants filed a motion to dismiss. The Court of Chancery granted the motion in part and denied it in part, holding (1) any challenge to the $395 million in dividends GLIC paid from 2012 to 2014 was untimely under 6 Del. C. 1309; and (2) Plaintiffs had standing to bring this lawsuit. View "Burkhart v. Genworth Financial, Inc." on Justia Law
Agents Mutual Insurance Co. v. Benham
On interlocutory appeal, the Supreme Court remanded this matter involving the circuit court's grant of Plaintiff's motion for class certification and denying, in part, Defendant's objections and motion for protective order, holding that the circuit court's order granting class certification failed to comply with the mandatory requirements contained in Ark. R. Civ. P. 23(b). The Supreme Court remanded the matter without addressing the merits of the class certification and, further, did not address Defendant's claim regarding the protective order. Specifically, the Court held (1) the circuit court's order did not comply with Rule 23(b)'s requirements to define the "class claims, issues or defenses"; and (2) because the order granting class certification failed to comply with Rule 23(b), the order was not a final, appealable order. The Court then remanded the matter with instructions to enter an order that complied with Rule 23. View "Agents Mutual Insurance Co. v. Benham" on Justia Law
Crooks v. Dept. of Natural Res.
In 1962, the United States began constructing various structures in and around the Catahoula Basin pursuant to a congressionally-approved navigation project under the River and Harbor Act of 1960 to promote navigation on the Ouachita and Black Rivers. In conjunction with that project, the State of Louisiana signed an “Act of Assurances,” which obligated the State to provide the federal government with all lands and property interests necessary to the project free of charge, and to indemnify the federal government from any damages resulting from the project. In 2006, plaintiffs Steve Crooks and Era Lea Crooks filed a “Class Action Petition to Fix Boundary, For Damages and For Declaration [sic] Judgment.” The Crookses alleged they represented a class of landowners in the Catahoula Basin whose property was affected by increased water levels from the project. Ultimately, the trial court certified the plaintiffs as one class, but subdivided that class into two groups – the “Lake Plaintiffs” and the “Swamp Plaintiffs” – depending on the location of the properties affected. The Louisiana Supreme Court granted certiorari in this case to determine whether the plaintiffs’ inverse condemnation claims for compensation against the State were prescribed under La. R.S. 13:5111 and/or 28 U.S.C. 2501. The lower courts relied on the decision in Cooper v. Louisiana Department of Public Works, 870 So. 2d 315 (2004), to conclude the one-year prescriptive period for damage to immovable property found in La. C.C. art. 3493 governed, and the continuing tort doctrine applied to prevent the running of prescription on the plaintiffs’ claims. The Supreme Court found the lower courts erred in relying on Cooper and held that the three-year prescriptive period for actions for compensation for property taken by the state set forth in La. R. S. 13:5111 governed and the plaintiffs’ inverse condemnation claims were prescribed. View "Crooks v. Dept. of Natural Res." on Justia Law