Justia Class Action Opinion Summaries
Hamer v. LivaNova Deutschland GMBH
Hamer underwent open-heart surgery using LivaNova’s 3T Heater-Cooler System. He developed an infection in the incision, which his physicians suspected stemmed from a non-tuberculosis mycobacterium (NTM). The hospital had experienced an outbreak of NTM infections in other patients who had undergone surgery using the 3T System. Hamer’s treatment team never isolated NTM from any of the swabs or cultures. Hamer, alleging that his treatment caused him lasting injuries, filed suit under the Louisiana Products Liability Act (LPLA) for failure to warn and inadequate design.Hamer’s case was transferred to Multidistrict Litigation case 2816, along with other cases alleging damages from the NTM infection caused by the 3T System. Case Management Order 15 (CMO 15) required plaintiffs to show “proof of NTM infection” through “positive bacterial culture results.” Hamer did not comply but opposed dismissal, claiming he had stated a prima facie claim under Louisiana law and sought remand.The Third Circuit reversed the dismissal. The court could have dismissed Hamer’s claims without prejudice, could have suggested remand, or could have dismissed Hamer’s claims with prejudice, if it found that Hamer had not stated a prima facie case under Louisiana law. .Under the LPLA, Hamer’s facts might state a prima facie case for defective design. Hamer’s allegations may diverge from those of other cases in MDL 2816 in which an NTM infection was verified but stating alternative theories of liability cannot justify foreclosing his claims. View "Hamer v. LivaNova Deutschland GMBH" on Justia Law
Peviani v. Arbors at California Oaks Property Owner
In a fifth amended class action complaint, plaintiffs Kelly Peviani, Judy Rudolph, and Zachary Rudolph, on behalf of themselves and others similarly situated, sued defendants Arbors at California Oaks Property Owner, LLC and JRK Residential Group, Inc. Plaintiffs alleged “Defendants advertise with colorful brochures and promising language that the Property is a safe, habitable, and luxurious place to live, with numerous amenities including a playground, cabanas and lounges, tennis and basketball courts, a rock climbing wall, gym, and pools and heated spas. But the Property is nothing of the kind. Instead, the Property is littered with used condoms, drug use, broken security gates, violence, is devoid of security patrols, and police are called to the complex on a regular basis. The pools are dirty, and the fitness equipment is broken. The complex is unsafe for tenants, especially children, and does not deliver on its material promises.” The complaint included eight causes of action: (1) false advertising; (2) breach of the implied warranty of habitability; (3) nuisance; (4) breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing; (5) bad faith retention of security deposits; and (6) three causes of action for unfair competition. Plaintiffs moved for certification of two classes, but the trial court denied the motion. Plaintiffs contended on appeal the trial court erred by denying their class certification motion. In regard to the false advertising claim, the trial court denied class certification due to a lack of commonality that would, in turn, cause the class to be unmanageable. After review of the trial court record, the Court of Appeal determined the trial court's commonality finding was flawed, making its related conclusion pertaining to manageability unreliable. Judgment was reversed and the matter remanded for further proceedings. View "Peviani v. Arbors at California Oaks Property Owner" on Justia Law
Olean Wholesale Grocery Cooperative, Inc. v. Bumble Bee Foods
The Ninth Circuit vacated the district court's order certifying three classes in a multi-district antitrust case alleging a price-fixing conspiracy by StarKist and Tri-Union, producers of packaged tuna. Producers challenged the district court's determination that Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(b)(3)'s "predominance" requirement was satisfied by expert statistical evidence finding classwide impact based on averaging assumptions and pooled transaction data.Although the panel has not previously addressed the proper burden of proof at the class certification stage, the panel held that a district court must find by a preponderance of the evidence that the plaintiff has established predominance under Rule 23(b)(3). The panel ultimately concluded that this form of statistical or "representative" evidence can be used to establish predominance, but the district court abused its discretion by not resolving the factual disputes necessary to decide the requirement before certifying these classes. Therefore, the panel vacated the district court's order certifying the classes and remanded for the district court to determine the number of uninjured parties in the proposed class based on the dueling statistical evidence. View "Olean Wholesale Grocery Cooperative, Inc. v. Bumble Bee Foods" on Justia Law
Metcalfe v. Alaska
Members of the plaintiff class were former Alaska State employees. When they enrolled in the State employee retirement system, a statute provided that if they left eligible employment, withdrew their contributions to the system, and later returned to eligible employment, they could repay their withdrawn contributions, be reinstated to their original benefits level, and have their credited service time restored. The statute was later repealed. The superior court ruled on summary judgment that this repeal did not diminish or impair the former employees’ accrued benefits and was therefore constitutional. The Alaska Supreme Court concluded the statutory reinstatement right was an accrued benefit of the retirement system protected against diminishment or impairment by article XII, section 7 of the Alaska Constitution. The Court therefore reversed the superior court’s judgment and remanded the case for further proceedings. View "Metcalfe v. Alaska" on Justia Law
Betancourt v. Transportation Brokerage Specialists, Inc.
Plaintiff worked as a delivery driver for TBS, a “last-mile” delivery company whose primary client was Amazon.com. At the start of his employment, he signed an At-Will Employment, Non-Disclosure, Non-Solicitation, Class-Action Waiver and Arbitration Agreement. Plaintiff filed suit asserting violations of the Labor Code, California’s Unfair Competition Law, and the Private Attorneys General Act, unlawful retaliation, and wrongful termination. The trial court denied TBS’s motion to compel the plaintiff to arbitrate his individual claims and to dismiss his class claims. The court found that the plaintiff was exempt from Federal Arbitration Act (9 U.S.C. 1, FAA) coverage because he was a transportation worker engaged in interstate commerce and that the class action waiver was unenforceable, rendering the arbitration agreement unenforceable.The court of appeal affirmed that the plaintiff is exempt from FAA coverage and that the class action waiver is unenforceable under California law. The court reversed the order denying the motion to compel arbitration of the plaintiff’s individual claims; the trial court improperly found the arbitration agreement unenforceable in its entirety rather than severing the class action waiver provision from the remainder of the employment agreement and considering the validity of the arbitration provision with respect to the individual claims for unlawful retaliation and wrongful termination. View "Betancourt v. Transportation Brokerage Specialists, Inc." on Justia Law
Frank v. Crawley Petroleum Corp.
Rex Sharp, the attorney for Plaintiff Duncan Frank in a putative class-action against Crawley Petroleum Corporation, appealed a district-court order granting Plaintiff’s motion for voluntary dismissal of his claim with prejudice but placing three restrictions on Sharp’s bringing similar putative class-action claims against Crawley on behalf of other plaintiffs. Plaintiff owned a royalty interest in an oil and gas well operated by Crawley in Oklahoma. He alleged that Crawley had been underpaying the royalties owed on natural-gas production. Sharp claimed two of the three conditions were improperly imposed because the dismissal caused no legal prejudice to Crawley. Crawley moved to dismiss the appeal for lack of jurisdiction. The Tenth Circuit denied the motion to dismiss because Sharp was expressly referenced in the order and was directly bound by it. And although a nonparty, he was a proper appellant, he had standing to appeal, and the order was a final, appealable order. The Tenth Circuit also agreed with Sharp on the merits of his appeal: Crawley would not be better off in regard to class certification than it was with the dismissal with prejudice of Plaintiff’s complaint. The matter was remanded to the district court with instructions to grant Plaintiff’s requested dismissal without the challenged conditions. View "Frank v. Crawley Petroleum Corp." on Justia Law
Capriole v. Uber Technologies, Inc.
The First Circuit dismissed this appeal from the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts denying Appellant's first preliminary injunction motion, holding that this Court had no appellate jurisdiction.Appellant filed a class action complaint in the Massachusetts district court under the Class Action Fairness Act, 28 U.S.C. 1332(d)(2) alleging that Uber Technologies, Inc. misclassified him and other drivers as independent contractors instead of employees. Appellant filed a motion for a preliminary injunction requiring Uber to alter its classification. The district court denied the motion. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that, due to the procedural posture of this case, this Court did not have jurisdiction to hear the appeal. View "Capriole v. Uber Technologies, Inc." on Justia Law
Wilson v. The La Jolla Group
Plaintiffs Mosanthony Wilson and Nancy Urschel brought a putative wage-and-hour class action against defendant The La Jolla Group (LJG). Plaintiffs worked for LJG as signature gatherers on behalf of political campaigns and political action committees. LJG classified them as independent contractors and paid them per signature submitted. In the underlying lawsuit, plaintiffs alleged that LJG misclassified them and, as employees, they were entitled to a minimum wage, overtime pay, meal and rest breaks, expense reimbursement, timely final wage payment, and itemized wage statements. Plaintiffs moved for certification of a class of LJG signature gatherers, which the trial court denied. Plaintiffs appealed the order denying class certification, contending the trial court erred by finding common questions did not predominate and the class action procedure was not superior to individual actions. They also contended the court erred by not granting a related motion for reconsideration. After review, the Court of Appeal agreed that on the current record, the trial court erred by declining to certify a class for one cause of action, for failure to provide written and accurate itemized wage statements. The Court therefore reversed the order denying class certification in part, as to that cause of action only, and remand for reconsideration. Otherwise, the Court concluded the trial court did not err and affirmed. View "Wilson v. The La Jolla Group" on Justia Law
Smith v. Bokor
Three plaintiffs, seeking to represent a putative class of 3,000 nursing facility residents, filed a class action complaint against (MMI) and its president in Florida state court. After defendants removed to the district court, the district court removed back to state court under the Class Action Fairness Act (CAFA).The Eleventh Circuit reversed and remanded for further proceedings, concluding that the district court erred in finding that the evidence was sufficient to establish that two-thirds of the putative class were Florida citizens. The court explained that the studies, surveys, and census data that plaintiffs provided, which do not directly involve plaintiffs in this case, are not sufficient to establish that a certain percentage of the plaintiff class are citizens of Florida. The court agreed with the district court's conclusion that plaintiffs satisfied the "significant defendant" requirement in 28 U.S.C. 1332(d)(4)(A)(i)(II)(aa). Because the court found that plaintiffs failed to meet the local controversy exception's state citizenship requirement, however, the district court erred in remanding this matter to state court. Finally, to the extent that the remand order was based on the discretionary exception, the district court erred in failing to find that MMI is a primary defendant and not a Florida citizen. View "Smith v. Bokor" on Justia Law
DRASC, Inc. v. Navistar, Inc.
A class of owners accused Navistar of selling trucks with defective engines. The suit was settled for $135 million. The district court gave its preliminary approval. A court-approved Rule 23(e) notice was sent by first-class mail to all class members describing the settlement terms and the option to litigate independently. The notice's opt-out instructions included a link to a website with the full details and a phone number. The court held a fairness hearing then entered a final judgment implementing the settlement. Class member Drasc had sued Navistar in Ohio concerning the truck engines. The federal court declined to enjoin parallel state court suits, so the Ohio case proceeded while the federal action was pending. After the court approved the settlement, Navistar notified Drasc that its suit is barred by the release in the settlement. Drasc argued that it never received notice of the settlement and that its effort to continue litigating in Ohio should be deemed a “reasonable indication” of a desire to opt-out. The Seventh Circuit affirmed the rejection of Drasc’s arguments, noting findings that two first-class letters were sent to Drasc at its business addresses; Drasc had not provided an email address for notice; Drasc’s Ohio lawyers had actual notice of the settlement and must have known about the need to opt-out. Drasc had actual knowledge of the need to opt-out and could not show excusable neglect that would justify an extension of the opt-out deadline. View "DRASC, Inc. v. Navistar, Inc." on Justia Law