Justia Class Action Opinion Summaries

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A class of employees who participated in Banner Health, Inc.’s 401(k) defined contribution savings plan accused Banner and other plan fiduciaries of breaching duties owed under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). A district court agreed in part, concluding that Banner had breached its fiduciary duty to plan participants by failing to monitor its recordkeeping service agreement with Fidelity Management Trust Company: this failure to monitor resulted in years of overpayment to Fidelity and corresponding losses to plan participants. During the bench trial, the employees’ expert witness testified the plan participants had incurred over $19 million in losses stemming from the breach. But having determined the expert evidence on losses was not reliable, the court fashioned its own measure of damages for the breach. Also, despite finding that Banner breached its fiduciary duty, the district court entered judgment for Banner on several of the class’s other claims: the court found that Banner’s breach of duty did not warrant injunctive relief and that Banner had not engaged in a “prohibited transaction” with Fidelity as defined by ERISA. The class appealed, arguing the district court adopted an improper method for calculating damages and prejudgment interest, abused its discretion by denying injunctive relief, and erred in entering judgment for Banner on the prohibited transaction claim. Finding no abuse of discretion or other reversible error, the Tenth Circuit affirmed the district court in each instance. View "Ramos v. Banner Health" on Justia Law

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This appeal arose out of the 2017 data privacy breach of Equifax and its affiliates. Plaintiffs and Equifax eventually settled their dispute, the district court approved the settlement, certified the settlement class, awarded attorney's fees and expenses, and approved incentive awards for the class representatives. Several of the objectors appealed.After establishing jurisdiction, the Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court's rulings in full, with the exception of the incentive awards for the class representatives, which the court reversed and remanded. In this case, after awarding attorney's fees and expenses to plaintiffs' counsel, the district court approved incentive awards for the class representatives in order to compensate them for their services and the risks they incurred on behalf of the class. However, in Johnson v. NPAS Sols., LLC, 975 F.3d 1244, 1260 (11th Cir. 2020), a panel of this court held that incentive awards for class representatives are prohibited. On remand, the court instructed the district court to vacate the incentive award and to otherwise leave the settlement agreement intact. View "Shiyang Huang v. Equifax Inc." on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit reversed the district court's approval of a class action settlement in an appeal brought by a class member objector in a class action alleging that ConAgra used a misleading "100% Natural" label on Wesson Oil.The panel held that, under the newly revised Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(e)(2) standard, courts must scrutinize settlement agreements — including post-class certification settlements — for potentially unfair collusion in the distribution of funds between the class and their counsel. The panel explained that courts should apply the heightened scrutiny Bluetooth factors even for post-class certification settlements. In this case, the class action settlement had all the hallmarks of a potentially collusive settlement giving short shrift to the class. The panel stated that the class action settlement raises a squadron of red flags billowing in the wind and begging for further review. The panel also concluded that the district court erred by failing to approximate the value of the injunction. Furthermore, the Erie doctrine does not preclude the application of Rule 23(e)(2). Finally, the panel concluded that the district court did not err by determining that the objector failed to rebut the conclusion that the settlement satisfied Rule 23(e)(2). The panel remanded for further proceedings. View "Briseño v. Henderson" on Justia Law

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A class of end-payor purchasers sued (Clayton Act, 15 U.S.C. 26; Sherman Act, 15 U.S.C. 1) manufacturers and suppliers, alleging that they conspired to fix prices of automotive anti-vibration rubber parts. The district court certified a nationwide settlement class comprising persons and entities who indirectly purchased anti-vibration rubber parts that were manufactured or sold by the defendants, excluding persons or entities who purchased parts directly or for resale.Before the court entered final judgments approving the "indirect purchaser" settlement, Plaintiffs filed a separate suit against the same defendants, in the same court, seeking damages under the Clayton Act on behalf of a putative class of “direct purchasers” of anti-vibration rubber parts. They alleged that they purchased parts “from an entity (Firestone retail shop) of which one of the Defendants (Bridgestone) is the ultimate parent”; Firestone is not a defendant in either lawsuit. Bridgestone is a defendant in both. The court entered final judgments in the end-payor lawsuit, enjoining all settlement class members from “commencing, prosecuting, or continuing . . . any and all claims” arising out of or relating to the released claims.Defendants moved to enjoin Plaintiffs from litigating their direct-purchaser lawsuit. The district court denied the motion, citing “Illinois Brick.” Under federal antitrust law, a private plaintiff generally must be a “direct purchaser” to have suffered injury and have standing to sue a manufacturer or supplier. In Illinois Brick, the Supreme Court recognized an exception, holding that an “indirect purchaser” might have standing if it purchased from an intermediary that was “owned or controlled” by the ultimate seller.The Sixth Circuit reversed. Regardless of whether Illinois Brick applies to plaintiffs’ underlying claims, plaintiffs fit within the class definition under the plain meaning of the settlement agreements. Their suit is therefore barred. View "In re: Automotive Parts Antitrust Litigation" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court's denial of plaintiff's motion to certify a class of employees of See's. Plaintiff alleges that See's did not provide required second meal breaks to shop employees who worked shifts longer than 10 hours.The court concluded that the trial court properly exercised its discretion in denying class certification where substantial evidence supports the trial court's conclusion that individual issues would predominate at trial. The court explained that the trial court carefully analyzed the evidence that plaintiff presented in support of her claim that she could establish liability through common proof. In light of evidence including time records showing that 24 percent of shifts longer than 10 hours actually included a second meal period, the trial court reasonably determined that at least some class members were offered a second meal period in accordance with the law. Therefore, the court explained that individual testimony would be necessary to show that See's consistently applied an unlawful practice. The court also concluded that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in deciding that plaintiff's trial plan was inadequate to manage individual issues. View "Salazar v. See's Candy Shops, Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed a putative class action on behalf of themselves and “[a]ll consumers to whom [d]efendants, after November 17, 2013, provided an electronically printed receipt” listing the expiration date of the consumer’s credit or debit card in violation of the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act of 2003 (FACTA). Plaintiffs’ only alleged injury was exposure to an increased risk of identity theft and credit/debit card fraud. The complaint alleged that “there are, at a minimum, thousands (i.e., two thousand or more) of members that comprise the Class.” The trial court granted defendants’ motion to dismiss plaintiffs’ complaint based on its determination that plaintiffs could not satisfy Rule 4:32-1’s numerosity, predominance, or superiority requirements for class certification. The Appellate Division affirmed the dismissal as it pertained to the class action claims. The New Jersey Supreme Court reversed, finding plaintiffs sufficiently pled the class certification requirements to survive a motion to dismiss. The Supreme Court remanded the matter for class action discovery to be conducted pursuant to Rule 4:32-2(a), so that the trial court could determine whether to certify the class. View "Baskin v. P.C. Richard Son, LLC" on Justia Law

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Edward Wrenn ("Edward") and David Wrenn ("David") petitioned the Alabama Supreme Court for a writ of mandamus to direct a circuit court to vacate an order requiring Edward and David to disclose their personal income-tax returns to plaintiff Jeffrey Wright, and to enter a protective order shielding the tax returns from production. Wright alleged he contracted with A-1 Exterminating Company, Inc. ("A-1 Exterminating"), for periodic termite treatments of his house. Over the course of several decades of treatments, Wright says, A-1 Exterminating used a "watered-down pesticide so weak that it may only kill ants and 'maybe' spiders." A-1 Exterminating allegedly concealed this practice from him. As a result, Wright contended his house was infected with and damaged by termites. Wright sued Edward, David, A-1 Exterminating, A-1 Insulating Company, Inc., and Wrenn Enterprises, Inc., alleging breach of warranty, breach of contract, negligence and wantonness. Wright sought to represent a class consisting of himself and other A-1 Exterminating customers allegedly harmed by defendants' actions. In support of his request to certify a class, Wright alleged that a "limited fund" existed that would support a class action under Rule 23(b)(1)(B), Ala. R. Civ. P. The Supreme Court held that for tax returns to be discoverable, they must be highly relevant, the litigant seeking their disclosure must show a compelling need for them, and their disclosure must be clearly required in the interests of justice, and that those standards have not been met in this case. Accordingly, the Court granted the petition and issued the writ to direct the trial court vacate its order requiring disclosure of the tax records. View "Ex parte Edward Wrenn & David Wrenn." on Justia Law

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This case arose out of several days of street protests during the September 2017 riots that occurred following the acquittal of a former St. Louis police officer for the on-duty shooting of a black man. Plaintiffs are a protester who allegedly was maced, a person whose cell phone was seized and searched as he filmed arrests, and an observer who was allegedly exposed to chemical agents and arrested on September 17.The Amended Complaint alleged that the City (i) violated the First Amendment by retaliating against plaintiffs for engaging in protected expressive activity; (ii) violated the Fourth Amendment because its custom, practice, and failure to train and supervise caused unlawful seizures and the use of excessive force by police officers; and (iii) violated the Fourteenth Amendment when officers failed to warn before deploying chemical agents, failed to provide opportunities to disperse, and arbitrarily enforced two ordinances of the St. Louis Code. The City subsequently appealed the district court's order denying its motion to dissolve the preliminary injunction that included affirmative mandates pending a prompt trial on the merits of plaintiffs' claims for a permanent injunction, and the district court's order granting class certification.The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of the City's motion to dissolve the temporary injunction and remanded with directions to vacate and dissolve the injunction no later than October 31, 2021, if it has not been replaced with a final order either granting a permanent injunction or denying injunctive relief. The court explained that, given the rigorous 42 U.S.C. 1983 burdens of proof, the evidence at the preliminary injunction hearing relating to the events of September 2017, while relevant and sufficient to persuade the court to grant a preliminary injunction pendente lite, will not be sufficient to warrant permanent injunctive relief imposing the same levels of indefinite federal court control over the City's law enforcement responsibilities.The court vacated the class certification order without prejudice to plaintiffs renewing their request after a final order has been entered on their claim for permanent injunctive relief, at which point the district court can better assess whether a Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(b)(2) class is appropriate and necessary to afford proper equitable relief. The court explained that, given the individualized inquiries plaintiffs' disparate claims require, the massive class action certified neither promotes the efficiency and economy underlying class actions nor pays sufficient heed to the federalism and separation of powers principles in Supreme Court and Eighth Circuit precedent. View "Ahmad v. City of St. Louis" on Justia Law

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Guivini Gomez was a former employee of the Regents of the University of California (Regents) who sued the Regents, as the named plaintiff in a purported class action, claiming the Regents failed to pay her the required minimum wage for all hours she worked. However, she did not allege the Regents set her hourly wage below the minimum wage as established by California law. Instead, she contended the Regents’ time-keeping procedures of rounding hours and automatically deducting 30 minute meal breaks resulted in her not receiving the minimum wage for all hours she actually worked. In addition to claiming the Regents did not pay her the minimum wage, Gomez also sought penalties under the Private Attorneys General Act. The superior court sustained the Regents’ demurrer without leave to amend and entered judgment in their favor. Gomez appealed, but finding no reversible error in the trial court's decision, the Court of Appeal affirmed. View "Gomez v. Regents of the University of Cal." on Justia Law

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A TD Ameritrade customer filed suit against the company and two other defendants for securities fraud in the District of New Jersey. The lead plaintiff was appointed for a group of investors who purchased and sold securities through TD Ameritrade between 2011 and 2014. Plaintiff alleges that TD Ameritrade's order routing practices violate the company's "duty of best execution" by systematically sending customer orders to trading venues that pay the company the most money, rather than to venues that provide the best outcome for customers.The Eighth Circuit reversed and remanded the district court's certification of a class under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(b)(3), concluding that even with the proposed algorithm, determining economic loss in this case entails individualized inquiry inconsistent with the predominance requirement of Rule 23. Therefore, the prevalence of these individualized inquiries precludes class certification under Rule 23(b)(3). Furthermore, because economic loss cannot be presumed, ascertaining which class members have sustained injury means individual issues predominate over common ones. Finally, the court concluded that, by defining the class to include only those customers who were harmed by TD Ameritrade's alleged failure to seek best execution, the district court certified a class in which membership depends upon having a valid claim on the merits. Such a class is impermissible because it allows putative class members to seek a remedy but not be bound by an adverse judgment, and fail-safe classes are also unmanageable. View "Ford v. TD Ameritrade Holding Corp." on Justia Law