Justia Class Action Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Arbitration & Mediation
Land v. IU Credit Union
The Indiana Supreme Court heard a case involving a dispute between Tonia Land and the IU Credit Union (IUCU). When Land became a customer at the credit union, she was given an account agreement that could be modified at any time. Later, when she registered for online banking, she accepted another agreement that allowed the IUCU to modify the terms and conditions of the services. In 2019, the IUCU proposed changes to these agreements, which would require disputes to be resolved through arbitration and prevent Land from initiating or participating in a class-action lawsuit. Land did not opt out of these changes within thirty days as required, which, according to the IUCU, made the terms binding. However, Land later filed a class-action lawsuit against the credit union, which attempted to compel arbitration based on the addendum.The court held that while the IUCU did provide Land with reasonable notice of its offer to amend the original agreements, Land's subsequent silence and inaction did not result in her assent to that offer, according to Section 69 of the Restatement (Second) of Contracts. The credit union petitioned for rehearing, claiming that the court failed to address certain legal authorities and arguments raised on appeal and in the transfer proceedings.Upon rehearing, the court affirmed its original decision, rejecting the credit union's arguments. However, the court also expressed a willingness to consider a different standard governing the offer and acceptance of unilateral contracts between businesses and consumers in future cases. The court found no merit in the credit union's arguments on rehearing and affirmed its original opinion in full. View "Land v. IU Credit Union" on Justia Law
DeMarinis v. Heritage Bank of Commerce
In this class action case, Nicole DeMarinis and Kelly Patire, current and former employees of Heritage Bank of Commerce, brought a case under the California Private Attorneys General Act of 2004 (PAGA) against Heritage Bank for wage and hour and other Labor Code violations. The Court of Appeal of the State of California First Appellate District Division Three affirmed the trial court’s decision, rejecting Heritage Bank’s argument to compel arbitration of plaintiffs’ individual PAGA claims based on a waiver in their arbitration agreement.In the agreement, the plaintiffs had waived their right to bring any claims against each other in any class or representative proceeding. The bank argued that the denial of arbitration was erroneous because the waiver provision was enforceable, pertaining only to plaintiffs’ nonindividual PAGA claims. The court, however, found that the provision violated public policy as it required plaintiffs to completely abandon their right to bring both individual and nonindividual PAGA claims in any forum.The court also found that the waiver provision's nonseverability clause and a "poison pill" provision, which stated that if the waiver provision is found unenforceable, then the entire arbitration agreement is null and void, precluded severance of the unenforceable nonindividual PAGA claims waiver. Consequently, the court concluded that the unenforceability of the waiver provision rendered the entire arbitration agreement null and void, thereby affirming the trial court's decision denying the motion to compel arbitration. View "DeMarinis v. Heritage Bank of Commerce" on Justia Law
KIM V. TINDER, INC.
The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a district court's approval of a class action settlement between Tinder and Lisa Kim, a user of the dating app, ruling that Kim was not an adequate class representative. This class action lawsuit against Tinder was over its former age-based pricing model. Kim had agreed to arbitration, unlike over 7,000 potential members of the class, creating a fundamental conflict of interest that violated Rule 23(a)(4). The court found that Kim had a strong interest in settling her claim as she had no chance of going to trial, unlike the other members. The court also noted that Kim failed to vigorously litigate the case on behalf of the class, with her approach to opposing Tinder’s motion to compel arbitration not suggesting vigor. The court remanded the case for consideration of Kim's individual action against Tinder. View "KIM V. TINDER, INC." on Justia Law
Reliance Health Care, Inc. v. Mitchell
The Supreme Court dismissed this interlocutory appeal of a vacated class certification order and directed the circuit court to remand the case to address motions to compel arbitration, holding that this appeal was moot.Plaintiffs, who represented the estates of former residents of fourteen different nursing homes, alleged breach of contract and unjust enrichment claims against the nursing homes, in violation of the Arkansas Civil Rights act and the Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act. The nursing homes moved to compel arbitration for all but two of the named plaintiffs, after which the plaintiffs moved for class certification. The circuit court granted Plaintiffs' motion for class certification without ruling on the motions to compel arbitration. The nursing homes brought an interlocutory appeal of the class-certification order and petitioned for writ of prohibition, mandamus, and certiorari. The Supreme Court granted the writ petition, vacating the order granting class certification, and ordered the circuit court to rule on the motions to compel before ruling on class certification, holding that the interlocutory appeal of the vacated class-certification order was moot. View "Reliance Health Care, Inc. v. Mitchell" on Justia Law
Najah Edmundson v. Klarna Inc.
Defendant Klarna, Inc. ("Klarna") provides a "buy now, pay later" service that allows shoppers to buy a product and pay for it in four equal installments over time without incurring any interest or fees. Plaintiff paid for two online purchases using Klarna. Plaintiff incurred $70 in overdraft fees. Plaintiff brought this action on behalf of herself and a class of similarly situated consumers, alleging that Klarna misrepresents and conceals the risk of bank-overdraft fees that consumers face when using its pay-over-time service and asserting claims for common-law fraud and violations of the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practice Act ("CUTPA"). Klarna moved to compel arbitration. The district court denied Klarna's motion. The Second Circuit reversed he district court's order and remanded with instructions to grant Klarna's motion to compel arbitration. The court explained that when Plaintiff arrived at the Klarna Widget, she knew well that purchasing the GameStop item with Klarna meant that she was entering into a continuing relationship with Klarna, one that would endure at least until she repaid all four installments. The Klarna Widget provided clear notice that there were terms that would govern this continuing relationship. A reasonable internet user, therefore, would understand that finalizing the GameStop transaction, entering into a forward-looking relationship with Klarna, and receiving the benefit of Klarna's service would constitute assent to those terms. The court explained that Plaintiff was on inquiry notice that her "agreement to the payment terms," necessarily encompassed more than the information provided on the Klarna Widget, and the burden was then on her to find out to what terms she was accepting. View "Najah Edmundson v. Klarna Inc." on Justia Law
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