Justia Class Action Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Arbitration & Mediation
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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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