Justia Class Action Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Arbitration & Mediation
Barrera v. Apple American Group LLC
Barrera and Varguez sued Apple, a nationwide restaurant chain, to recover civil penalties under the Private Attorneys General Act of 2004 (PAGA) (Labor Code 2698) for Labor Code violations suffered by them and by other employees. Apple unsuccessfully moved to compel arbitration.The court of appeal reversed in part, first rejecting a claim that Apple waived the right to arbitrate by “litigating this case for over a year” before moving to compel arbitration. Citing the Supreme Court’s 2022 decision, "Viking River Cruises," and the Federal Arbitration Act (9 U.S.C. 1), the court concluded that the parties’ agreements require arbitration of the PAGA claims that seek to recover civil penalties for Labor Code violations committed against the plaintiffs. The PAGA claims seeking civil penalties for Labor Code violations committed against other employees may be pursued by the plaintiffs in the trial court. In defining the scope of arbitrable claims, the Agreements permissibly provide that only individual PAGA claims can be arbitrated. The plaintiffs’ individual claims can be arbitrated—unless the Agreements are unenforceable on some other ground; the plaintiffs did not meet their burden in establishing the Agreements are unconscionable. The court remanded for determination of whether a stay of the non-individual PAGA claims would be appropriate. View "Barrera v. Apple American Group LLC" on Justia Law
H&T Fair Hills, Ltd. v. Alliance Pipeline L.P.
Alliance Pipeline L.P. (“Alliance”) entered into contracts with four states (“State Agreements”) as well as contracts with individual landowners in order to build a natural gas pipeline. The contracts with landowners provide easements for the pipeline right-of-way. In 2018, some landowners on the pipeline right-of-way filed a class-action lawsuit against Alliance. After the class was certified, Alliance moved to compel arbitration for the approximately 73 percent of plaintiffs whose easements contain arbitration provisions. Alliance appealed, arguing the district court erred by not sending all issues to arbitration for the plaintiffs whose easements contain arbitration provisions. The Eighth Circuit affirmed in part and reversed in part. The court explained that the district court that the damages issues are subject to arbitration for the plaintiffs whose easements contain an arbitration provision. Plaintiffs make two arguments against sending any issues to arbitration: (1) Plaintiffs’ claims cannot be within the scope of the arbitration provisions because the claims allege lack of compensation for “ongoing yield losses,” not “damages to crops” and (2) Plaintiffs’ claims arise under the State Agreements, which do not have arbitration provisions. The court found the arbitration agreements to be enforceable and to cover all issues. The court held that as to the arbitration class members, the claims should be dismissed without prejudice. As to the members of the class without arbitration provisions, the court saw no reason why these class members cannot proceed with the lawsuit in the normal course at the district court. View "H&T Fair Hills, Ltd. v. Alliance Pipeline L.P." on Justia Law
JOHN BOSHEARS V. PEOPLECONNECT, INC.
Plaintiff sued Defendant PeopleConnect, Inc., alleging that it violated his right of publicity by using his photo on its website, Classmates.com. PeopleConnect responded by seeking two forms of relief. First, it sought to compel Plaintiff to arbitrate his claims under section 4 of the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA). Second, it sought to dismiss Plaintiff’s complaint, arguing in relevant part that it was entitled to section 230 immunity under the Communications Decency Act. In a 26-page document labeled a single “order,” the district court denied both requests for relief. PeopleConnect filed an interlocutory appeal, attempting to challenge both denials by relying on the FAA as the basis for interlocutory appellate jurisdiction. The Ninth Circuit dismissed in part, vacated in part, and remanded. The panel determined that it had jurisdiction to review the district court’s order denying the motion to compel arbitration. The panel held that two orders do not become one “order” for the purposes of § 16(a) solely by virtue of the fact that they appear in the same document. Notwithstanding its label as a single “order,” the document clearly contained multiple orders. Because Section 16(a) grants jurisdiction to review only an order denying a motion to compel arbitration, and because the district court’s denial of the motion to dismiss was not part of such an order, the panel lacked jurisdiction to review it. View "JOHN BOSHEARS V. PEOPLECONNECT, INC." on Justia Law
Scott Burnett v. HomeServices of America, Inc.
HomeServices of America, Inc.; BHH Affiliates, LLC; and HSF Affiliates, LLC (collectively, “HomeServices”) appealed from the district court’s denial of HomeServices’s motion to compel unnamed class members to arbitrate their claims against it. The Eighth Circuit affirmed. The court explained that here, HomeServices conceded before the district court that “neither the named plaintiffs nor any purported class member has any contract or direct relationship with HomeServices relevant to the claims asserted in this case.” Moreover, the Listing Agreements and their included Arbitration Agreements do not name HomeServices as a party or third-party beneficiary. The court explained that the district court correctly concluded this “narrow, party-specific language . . . does not clearly and unmistakably delegate to an arbitrator threshold issue of arbitrability between nonparties, including HomeServices.” Thus, the court held that the district court correctly concluded that “the court—not an arbitrator—must address whether HomeServices can enforce the Arbitration Agreements.” Moreover, the court held that the district court did not err in denying HomeServices’s motion to compel the unnamed class members to arbitrate their claims against it. View "Scott Burnett v. HomeServices of America, Inc." on Justia Law
EDMOND CARMONA, ET AL V. DOMINO’S PIZZA, LLC
This is a putative class action by three truck drivers against their employer, Domino’s Pizza. The court previously affirmed the district court’s denial of Domino’s motion to compel arbitration, holding that because the drivers were a “class of workers engaged in foreign or interstate commerce,” their claims were exempted from the Federal Arbitration Act (“FAA”) by 9 U.S.C. Section 1. The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court’s order denying Domino Pizza’s motion to compel arbitration in a putative class action brought by three Domino truck drivers, alleging violations of California labor law. The panel stated that its prior decision squarely rested upon its reading of Rittmann v. Amazon.com, Inc., 971 F.3d 904 (9th Cir. 2020), which concerned Amazon delivery drivers. The panel found no clear conflict between Rittmann and Saxon and nothing in Saxon that undermined the panel’s prior reasoning that because the plaintiff drivers in this case, like the Amazon package delivery drivers in Rittmann, transport interstate goods for the last leg to their final destinations, they are engaged in interstate commerce under Section 1. View "EDMOND CARMONA, ET AL V. DOMINO'S PIZZA, LLC" on Justia Law
Ford Motor Credit Co. v. Miller
The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the circuit court finding that Ford Motor Credit Company, LLC failed to meet its evidentiary burden to show the existence of an arbitration agreement in this case surrounding a dispute over the unpaid balance on an automobile loan, holding that the circuit court erred.Ford Credit sued Ronald Miller for the alleged balance due on a loan. Miller asserted a class action counterclaim for unlawful debt collection practices, in response to which Ford Credit filed a motion to compel arbitration. The circuit court denied the motion, concluding that Ford Credit failed to provide evidence that an arbitration agreement existed. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded the case, holding that the existence of an arbitration agreement between the parties had been established. View "Ford Motor Credit Co. v. Miller" on Justia Law
Kinder v. Capistrano Beach Care Center
Plaintiff was a resident at a residential skilled nursing facility when she sustained injuries in a fall. She sued the facility, Capistrano Beach Care Center, LLC dba Capistrano Beach Care Center (CBCC), and its operator, Cambridge Healthcare Services, LLC (collectively, Defendants). Defendants petitioned to compel arbitration, claiming Plaintiff was bound by arbitration agreements purportedly signed on her behalf by her adult children. The trial court denied the petition, concluding defendants had failed to prove Plaintiff’s adult children had actual or ostensible authority to execute the arbitration agreements on Plaintiff’s behalf. The Second Appellate District affirmed. The court explained that CBCC did not meet its initial burden to make a prima facie showing that Plaintiff agreed to arbitrate by submitting arbitration agreements signed by Plaintiff’s adult children. CBCC presented no evidence that the children had actual or ostensible authority to execute the arbitration agreement on Plaintiff’s behalf beyond their own representations in the agreements. The court wrote that a defendant cannot meet its burden to prove the signatory acted as the agent of a plaintiff by relying on representations of the purported agent alone. View "Kinder v. Capistrano Beach Care Center" on Justia Law
DRICKEY JACKSON V. AMZN
Plaintiff sought to represent a class of individuals, known as Amazon Flex drivers, claiming damages and injunctive relief for alleged privacy violations by Amazon.com, Inc. (“Amazon”). Plaintiff contended that Amazon monitored and wiretapped the drivers’ conversations when they communicated during off hours in closed Facebook groups. The district court denied Amazon’s motion to compel arbitration, holding that the dispute did not fall within the scope of the applicable arbitration clause in a 2016 Terms of Service Agreement (“2016 TOS”). Amazon appealed, arguing that the district court should have applied the broader arbitration clause in a 2019 Terms of Service Agreement (“2019 TOS”) and that even if the arbitration clause in the 2016 TOS applied, this dispute fell within its scope. The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court’s order denying Amazon’s motion to compel arbitration. Under California law and principles of contract law, the burden is on Amazon, as the party seeking arbitration, to show that it provided notice of a new TOS and that there was mutual assent to the contractual agreement to arbitrate. The panel held that there was no evidence that the email allegedly sent to drivers adequately notified drivers of the update. The district court, therefore, correctly held that the arbitration provision in the 2016 TOS still governed the parties’ relationship. The panel concluded that because Amazon’s alleged misconduct existed independently of the contract and therefore fell outside the scope of the arbitration provision in the 2016 TOS, the district court correctly denied Amazon’s motion to compel arbitration. View "DRICKEY JACKSON V. AMZN" on Justia Law
Seifu v. Lyft, Inc.
Plaintiff, a former driver for Defendant Lyft, Inc., filed suit against Lyft under the Private Attorneys General Act of 2004 (PAGA). He alleged that Lyft misclassified him and other drivers as independent contractors rather than employees, thereby violating multiple provisions of the Labor Code. Lyft moved to compel arbitration based on the arbitration provision in the “Terms of Service” (TOS) that it required its drivers to accept. The trial court denied the motion, finding the PAGA waiver in the arbitration provision unenforceable under then-controlling California law. Lyft appealed, and the Second Appellate District affirmed the denial of Lyft’s motion to compel arbitration. Lyft petitioned the United States Supreme Court for a writ of certiorari. The Court granted Lyft’s petition and remanded the case for further consideration in light of Viking River Cruises, Inc. v. Moriana (2022). The Second Appellate District reversed in part and affirmed in part the trial court’s order. The court remanded the matter to the trial court with directions to (1) enter an order compelling Plaintiff to arbitrate his individual PAGA claim and (2) conduct further proceedings regarding Plaintiff’s non-individual claims. The court explained that it is not bound by the analysis of PAGA standing set forth in Viking River. PAGA standing is a matter of state law that must be decided by California courts. The court explained that until it has guidance from the California Supreme Court, its review of PAGA and relevant state decisional authority leads the court to conclude that a plaintiff is not stripped of standing to pursue non-individual PAGA claims simply because their individual PAGA claim is compelled to arbitration. View "Seifu v. Lyft, Inc." on Justia Law
MITCH OBERSTEIN, ET AL V. LIVE NATION ENT’M’T, INC., ET AL