Justia Class Action Opinion Summaries

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Plaintiffs filed a class action in state court against Massage Envy, alleging that the company violated the Missouri Merchandising Practices Act (MMPA) when advertisements for its one hour massage session failed to disclose that the session included ten minutes to undress, dress, and consult with the therapist. Massage Envy removed the case to district court under the Class Action Fairness Act. The Eighth Circuit held that the district court misapplied controlling Supreme Court and Eighth Circuit CAFA precedents. The court held that the district court erred when it evaluated the MMPA violations alleged in plaintiffs' second amended petition and remanded the class action to state court because "it is more likely that a reasonable fact finder would not award several million dollars in punitive damages." In this case, the district court's consideration went to the merits of plaintiffs' claims. The court held that plaintiffs' allegation that they were entitled to punitive damages in an unstated amount raised the amount in controversy to more than $5 million, whether or not they ultimately prove they were entitled to the punitive damages they claimed. Finally, the court also held that when Massage Envy investigated and filed a notice of removal based on the results of its own amount-in-controversy investigation, the notice was not untimely. Therefore, the court granted the petition for permission to appeal, reversed the July 2019 order of remand, denied plaintiffs' motion for remand, and remanded for further proceedings. View "Pirozzi v. Massage Envy Franchising" on Justia Law

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Three healthcare providers filed a class action against Progressive over a claims-handling process that was allegedly illegal under Florida law. The district court certified an injunction class under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(b)(2), but declined to certify a damages class under Rule 23(b)(3). The Eleventh Circuit held that the district court erred by certifying the injunction class, because the injunctive remedy the class sought -- in this case, damages -- was improper. Therefore, Rule 23(b)(3) is the proper mechanism for certifying a damages class. The court stated that, because plaintiffs' damages claims involved individualized issues that ruled out Rule 23(b)(3) certification, plaintiffs sought to recast their claims as one for injunctive relief under Rule 23(b)(2). View "AA Suncoast Chiropractic Clinic, P.A. v. Progressive American Insurance Co." on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs alleged pharmaceutical manufacturers stalled the release of clinical trial results for their blockbuster anti-cholesterol drugs, tried to change the study's endpoint to produce more favorable results, concealed their role in the change, and that the delay allowed one company to raise $4.08 billion through a public offering, which the company used to purchase another company to lessen its reliance on the drugs. Amid press reports and a congressional investigation, the companies released the clinical trial results, which allegedly caused their stock prices to plummet, amounting to about a $48 billion loss in market capitalization. Investors filed suit. The court denied defendants’ motions to dismiss under the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act’s heightened pleading standard, denied defendants’ motion for summary judgment, and granted class certification. Investors were provided with Rule 23(c)(2) notice of their right to opt-out: “you will not be bound by any judgment in this Action” and “will retain any right you have to individually pursue any legal rights.” After the opt-out period, the court approved settlements, offering opt-out investors 45 days to rejoin and share in the recovery, while stating that opt-outs “shall not be bound” to the settlement. Sixteen opt-out investors filed suits, tracking the class action claims, and adding a New Jersey common law fraud claim. After the Supreme Court held that American Pipe tolling does not extend to statutes of repose, plaintiffs were left with only their state-law claims. The court dismissed those as barred by the Securities Litigation Uniform Standards Act, 15 U.S.C. 10 78bb(f)(5)(B)(ii)(II). The Third Circuit reversed, finding that the class actions and the opt-out suits were not “joined, consolidated, or otherwise proceed[ing] as a single action for any purpose.” View "North Sound Capital LLC v. Merck & Co., Inc" on Justia Law

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The federal district court in Washington State certified a question of law to the Washington Supreme Court. Plaintiffs Valerie Sampson and David Raymond (collectively, Sampson) were Washington residents who worked as commercial truck drivers for defendants Knight Transportation Inc., Knight Refrigerated, LLC, and Knight Port Services LLC (collectively, Knight). Plaintiffs brought this putative class action on behalf of themselves and others similarly situated for several alleged violations of Washington wage and hour laws. At issue here was Sampson's claim that piece-rate drivers must receive separate hourly compensation for all time spent "on-duty not- driving." The question the federal court posed to the Supreme Court was whether the Washington Minimum Wage Act required non-agricultural employers to pay their piece-rate employees per hour for time spent performing activities outside of piece-rate work. The Supreme Court responded: no. "All workers must be compensated for all hours worked in a work week in accordance with the Minimum Wage Act (MWA). For nonagricultural workers, WAC 296-126-021 validly allows employers to demonstrate compliance with the MWA's guaranty that Washington workers receive a minimum wage for each hour worked by ensuring that the total wages for the week do not fall below the statutory minimum wage for each hour worked. Accordingly, the plaintiffs in this case fail to demonstrate as a matter of law that they were uncompensated for time spent "loading and unloading, pre-trip inspections, fueling, detention at a shipper or consignee, washing trucks, and other similar activities." View "Sampson v. Knight Transp., Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed a putative class action against Marriott in state court, alleging that Marriott failed to compensate its employees for wages and missed meal breaks and failed to issue accurate itemized wage statements. Marriott then removed to federal court under the Class Action Fairness Act (CAFA). The Ninth Circuit vacated the district court's sua sponte remand to state court, affirming three principles that apply in CAFA removal cases. First, a removing defendant's notice of removal need not contain evidentiary submissions but only plausible allegations of the jurisdictional elements. Second, when a defendant's allegations of removal jurisdiction are challenged, the defendant's showing on the amount in controversy may rely on reasonable assumptions. Third, when a statute or contract provides for the recovery of attorneys' fees, prospective attorneys' fees must be included in the assessment of the amount in controversy. Accordingly, the panel remanded for further proceedings in this case to allow the parties to present evidence and argument on the amount in controversy. View "Argelia Arias v. Residence Inn by Marriott" on Justia Law

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The DC Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of class certification in a putative class action of over 16,000 shippers allegedly harmed by a price-fixing conspiracy among the nation's largest freight railroads. The court held that the district court did not abuse its discretion by determining that plaintiffs' regression analysis—their evidence for proving causation, injury, and damages on a class-wide basis—measured negative damages for over 2,000 members of the proposed class. Therefore, common issues did not predominate where at least 2,037 individual determinations of injury and causation were needed. Furthermore, the district court did not abuse its discretion by holding that this analysis was essential to plaintiffs' case for certification. View "In re: Rail Freight Fuel Surcharge Antitrust Litigation" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed a class action in state court against Walgreens and others, claiming that the Walgreens Balance Rewards program violated Arkansas's statutory prohibition on price discrimination in the sale of manufactured products. After defendants removed to federal court under the Class Action Fairness Act of 2005 (CAFA), the district court denied remand and granted defendants' motion to dismiss. The Eighth Circuit affirmed, holding that the district court did not err by finding that the district managers were not significant defendants under CAFA, and in concluding that they had been fraudulently joined in an attempt to defeat diversity jurisdiction. In light of the court's determination that the district managers' conduct did not form a significant basis for plaintiff's claim, the court held that plaintiff failed to meet his burden of establishing that the local controversy exception to CAFA jurisdiction applies. The court rejected plaintiff's argument that the district court was without jurisdiction to decide the merits of his case because he did not have Article III standing. Finally, the court rejected plaintiff's claim that the district court erred in dismissing his complaint with prejudice. View "Atwood v. Peterson" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals holding that Ohio Rev. Code 1308.16(A) allows a purchaser of a bond to assert a breach-of-contract claim that accrued before the bondholder's purchase because the purchaser acquired the rights of one who held the bond when the breach allegedly occurred, holding that absent a valid assignment of a right to bring a cause of action, the sale of a municipal bond does not automatically vest in the purchaser. This breach-of-contract case came to the Supreme Court on appeal from a judgment finding that the court of common pleas erred by refusing to certify a class action on grounds that the class lacked commonality. Plaintiff asked the trial court to certify a class of bondholders. The trial court concluded that commonality had not been established because each class member would allege a different time and purchase price as the basis for a breach and thus would have different potential damages. The court of appeals reversed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that absent a valid assignment of claims, the sale of a municipal bond does not automatically vest in the buyer all claims and causes of action of the seller relating to the bond that arose before the transaction. View "Paul Cheatham I.R.A. v. Huntington National Bank" on Justia Law

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Objector was a member of a California class action against Monsanto that alleged that the company used misleading labeling on its Roundup concentrate herbicide. After certification of the class, class counsel filed this action on behalf of a putative class of consumers from the other 49 states. Objector objected to certification of the nationwide class and to the fairness of the settlement on several grounds. The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's overruling of the objection and grant of final approval. The court held that the class members were adequately represented and that the settlement was reasonable, fair, and adequate. View "Rawa v. Migliaccio" on Justia Law

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Current and former minor league baseball players brought claims under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and the wage-and-hour laws of California, Arizona, and Florida against MLB defendants, alleging that defendants did not pay the players at all during spring training, extended spring training, or the instructional leagues. On appeal, the players challenged the district court's denial of class certification for the Arizona, Florida, and Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(b)(2) classes, and defendants petitioned to appeal the certification of the California class. The Ninth Circuit held that the district court did not err in holding, under Sullivan v. Oracle Corp., that California law should apply to the 23(b)(3) California class. However, the district court erred in determining that choice-of-law considerations defeated predominance and adequacy for the proposed Arizona and Florida Rule 23(b)(3) classes. In this case, the district court fundamentally misunderstood the proper application of California's choice-of-law principles—which, when correctly applied, indicate that Arizona law should govern the Arizona class, and Florida law the Florida class. The panel also held that the district court erred in refusing to certify a Rule 23(b)(2) class for unpaid work at defendants' training facilities in Arizona and Florida on the sole basis that choice-of-law issues undermined "cohesiveness" and therefore made injunctive and declaratory relief inappropriate. Furthermore, the district court erred in imposing a "cohesiveness" requirement for the proposed Rule 23(b)(2) class. The panel held that the predominance requirement was met as to the Arizona and Florida classes, covering alleged minimum wage violations based on the lack of any pay for time spent participating in spring training, extended spring training, and instructional leagues. In regard to the California class -- covering overtime and minimum wage claims relating to work performed during the championship season -- the panel also held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in concluding that defendant's uniform pay policy, the team schedules, and representative evidence established predominance. The panel rejected defendants' contention that the district court was required to rigorously analyze the Main Survey. The panel affirmed the district court's certification of the FLSA collective action. Applying Campbell v. City of L.A., which postdated the district court's ruling, the panel held that the district court's use of the ad hoc approach was harmless error. The panel also affirmed the district court's certification of the FLSA collective as to plaintiffs' overtime claims. Accordingly, the panel affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded for further proceedings. View "Senne v. Kansas City Royals Baseball" on Justia Law