Justia Class Action Opinion Summaries
State ex rel. Surnaik Holdings of West Virginia, LLC v. Honorable Thomas Bedell
The Supreme Court granted as moulded a petition for writ of prohibition sought by Respondent to prohibit the circuit court from conducting any further proceedings in this case until the circuit court vacated its class certification order, holding that the circuit court exceeded its jurisdiction by failing to conduct an appropriate and thorough analysis of the West Virginia Rules of Civil Procedure 23(a) and 23(b) class certification requirements.Respondent, the Honorable Thomas A. Bedell, sitting by assignment as a circuit court judge, certified a class action against Petitioner. Petitioner subsequently filed the instant petition seeking to prohibit enforcement of the class certification order, asserting that the circuit court clearly erred in several respects in certifying the class action. The Supreme Court agreed, holding that the circuit court exceeded its legitimate powers by certifying the class without undertaking a thorough analysis in its determination of whether the class certification requirements of W. Va. R. Civ. P. 23 were satisfied. View "State ex rel. Surnaik Holdings of West Virginia, LLC v. Honorable Thomas Bedell" on Justia Law
Castillo v. Bank of America, NA
The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of plaintiff's motion to certify a class in a dispute regarding the proper method of calculating overtime wages under California law. Plaintiff sought to represent a class of more than 5,000 hourly-paid, non-managerial call center workers in California for numerous wage and hour violations allegedly committed by BOA.The panel held that plaintiff has established commonality; plaintiff has established the typicality of her claim; but plaintiff has not established predominance, which was essential to her class action claim. In this case, the challenged BOA policy either did not apply or did not cause an injury to many employees. View "Castillo v. Bank of America, NA" on Justia Law
Harris v. KM Industrial, Inc.
The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's decision to remand the class action to state court because defendant based the claimed amount in controversy on unreasonable assumptions. Plaintiff filed a class action against his former employer, KMI, alleging that KMI violated several provisions of the California Labor Code.The panel held that KMI failed to sufficiently demonstrate that it met the Class Action Fairness Act's requirement that the amount in controversy exceed $5 million. The panel explained that, once plaintiff contested the reasonableness of KMI's assumptions, KMI had the burden of proving by a preponderance of the evidence that its assumptions were reasonable. The court concluded that KMI did not carry its burden because it relied on assumptions regarding the Meal Period and Rest Period subclasses that were unreasonable. In this case, KMI failed to provide any evidence to support its assumption that all 442 Hourly Employee Class members were the same as the members of the Meal Period Sub-Class or the Rest Period Sub-Class or that they all worked shifts long enough to qualify for meal or rest periods. Finally, a remand to the district court for further factfinding is not required. View "Harris v. KM Industrial, Inc." on Justia Law
Chambers v. Whirlpool Corp.
In a class action lawsuit regarding faulty Whirlpool dishwashers, the Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's approval of a class settlement, but vacated and remanded the $14.8 million attorney's fees award. The panel held that the Class Action Fairness Act's (CAFA) attorney's fee provisions apply to all federal class actions; the district court improperly used a lodestar-only method to calculate attorney's fees for the coupon portion of the settlement where that methodology potentially inflates the amount of attorney's fees in proportion to the results achieved for the class because the coupons may end up providing minimal benefit to the class; the district court erred in awarding a 1.68 lodestar multiplier; and the district court did not abuse its discretion in approving the settlement.On remand, the panel instructed the district court to apply a percentage-of-redemption value methodology for the coupon portion of a settlement, and use a lodestar method for the non-coupon part of the relief. In the alternative, the panel stated that the district court may use a lodestar-only methodology, but only if it does not consider the coupon relief or takes into account its redemption value. View "Chambers v. Whirlpool Corp." on Justia Law
Martinez-Cuevas v. DeRuyter Bros. Dairy, Inc.
This case concerned the constitutionality of RCW 49.46.130(2)(g), the provision exempting agricultural workers from the overtime pay requirement set out in the Washington Minimum Wage Act, ch. 49.46 RCW. Jose Martinez-Cuevas and Patricia Aguilar worked for DeRuyter Brothers Dairy as milkers. DeRuyter milkers used mechanized equipment to milk close to 3,000 cows per shift, 24 hours a day, three shifts a day, 7 days a week. In 2016, Martinez-Cuevas and Aguilar filed the present class action suit along with about 300 fellow DeRuyter dairy workers, claiming that DeRuyter failed to pay minimum wage to dairy workers, did not provide adequate rest and meal breaks, failed to compensate pre- and post-shift duties, and failed to pay overtime. The complaint also sought a judgment declaring RCW 49.46.130(2)(g) unconstitutional. The trial court granted partial summary judgment to the class, finding the exemption violated article I, section 12 of the Washington Constitution and the equal protection clause. After review, the Washington Supreme Court concurred with the trial court and affirmed that judgment. View "Martinez-Cuevas v. DeRuyter Bros. Dairy, Inc." on Justia Law
Binder v. Cuyahoga County
The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals affirming the trial court's class certification order and vacated the class certification order, holding that Ohio Rev. Code 124.34 does not authorize civil service employees to file a civil action in common pleas court to address an alleged reduction in pay in violation of section 124.34.Appellees and other named class representatives filed two consolidated class action lawsuits against Cuyahoga County seeking damages and a declaratory judgment that the county reduced their compensation, in violation of section 124.34. The trial court certified a class. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) section 124.34 does not authorize civil service employees to file a civil action in common pleas court for an alleged reduction in pay in violation of the statute; and (2) because Appellees' complaints did not state a cause of action for which relief may be granted, the trial court erred in certifying a class based on those claims. View "Binder v. Cuyahoga County" on Justia Law
Baker v. USD 229 Blue Valley
Plaintiff-appellant Terri Baker appealed the dismissal of this putative class action for lack of standing. She sued on behalf of herself and her son, S.F.B., to challenge Kansas laws and school district policies that: (1) required children to be vaccinated to attend school and participate in child care programs; and (2) provided a religious exemption from these requirements. She claimed these immunization laws and policies violated various federal and state constitutional provisions and statutes. Baker argued she and S.F.B. had standing because the immunization requirements and religious exemptions injured them in two ways: (1) the District misapplied Kansas law when it granted a religious exemption for S.F.B. to attend preschool despite being unvaccinated - her fear that the District would revoke S.F.B.'s religious exemption was an injury in fact that established standing; and (2) Baker "would like the option" of placing S.F.B. in a non-accredited private school (i.e., home school), school programs, or licensed child care - she contended Kansas law inhibited her from exercising these options and caused an injury in fact because she would be unable to secure a religious exemption for S.F.B. if she tried. Finding no reversible error in the district court's dismissal, the Tenth Circuit affirmed. View "Baker v. USD 229 Blue Valley" on Justia Law
Koppers, Inc. v. Trotter
The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the circuit court granting class certification of Plaintiffs' complaint, holding that the circuit court did not abuse its discretion in certifying the class.Plaintiffs were hourly employees of Koppers, Inc. Plaintiffs filed this action against Koppers alleging that Koppers did not pay them for working overtime in violation of the Arkansas Minimum Wage Act (AMWA), Ark. Code Ann. 11-4-211(a). Plaintiffs filed a motion to certify a class. The circuit court granted the motion. Koppers appealed, arguing that its liability could not be established on a classwide basis because whether a plaintiff could recover depended on individualized facts. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the circuit court's findings on commonality, predominance, and superiority were not in error. View "Koppers, Inc. v. Trotter" on Justia Law
Muransky v. Godiva Chocolatier, Inc.
Plaintiff filed suit alleging that Godiva chocolate stores had printed too many credit card digits on hundreds of thousands of receipts over the course of several years, and pointed out that those extra numbers were prohibited under a federal law aimed at preventing identity theft. After the parties agreed on a class settlement, the Supreme Court issued Spokeo, Inc. v. Robins, which held that a party does not have standing to sue when it pleads only the bare violation of a statute.The Eleventh Circuit held that plaintiff has no standing because he alleged only a statutory violation and not a concrete injury. In this case, plaintiff alleged that a cashier handed him a receipt containing some of his own credit card information printed on it. Although the receipt violated the law because it contained too many digits, the court explained that plaintiff has alleged no concrete harm or material risk of harm stemming from the violation. Therefore, this amounts to nothing more than a "bare procedural violation, divorced from concrete harm." Consequently, the court cannot evaluate the fairness of the parties' settlement and vacated the district court's order approving it. View "Muransky v. Godiva Chocolatier, Inc." on Justia Law
Chavez v. Occidental Chemical Corp
The Court of Appeals answered questions certified to it by the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit regarding whether New York recognizes so-called American Pipe tolling of the statute of limitations for absent class members of a putative class action filed in another jurisdiction.In 2012, Plaintiffs filed individual lawsuits alleging injuries based upon the manufacturing of a nematicide by Occidental Chemical Corporation. The cases were consolidated, and the action was transferred to the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. Occidental moved for judgment on the pleadings, arguing that Plaintiffs' claims were time-barred under New York law. Plaintiffs argued in response that a putative class action originally filed in Texas state court in 1993 had tolled the applicable three-year statute of limitations. The New York District Court Judge denied the motion and certified an interlocutory appeal to the Second Circuit, which, in turn, certified questions to the Court of Appeals. The Court of Appeals answered (1) New York recognizes American Pipe & Construction Co. v. Utah, 414 US 538 (1974), tolling for absent class members of putative class actions filed in other state and federal courts; and (2) a non-merits dismissal of class certification, as occurred here in 1995, extinguishes tolling. View "Chavez v. Occidental Chemical Corp" on Justia Law