Justia Class Action Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Commercial Law
Rashaw v. United Consumers Credit Union
Four named plaintiffs filed three separate class action lawsuits in state court alleging, inter alia, that three Missouri credit unions, by participating in a subprime motor vehicle lending and investment program administered by now-bankrupt Centrix Financial, LLC, violated provisions of the Missouri Uniform Commercial Code (Mo UCC) and the Missouri Merchandising Practices Act (MMPA). Defendants removed under the Class Action Fairness Act and moved to dismiss the complaints. The district court issued three identical orders dismissing all the state law claims. The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals consolidated the three appeals and affirmed, holding that plaintiffs' Mo UCC claims were time-barred and that the MMPA expressly exempted Missouri credit unions. View "Rashaw v. United Consumers Credit Union" on Justia Law
Liu v. Amerco
A proposed consent order from an FTC investigation indicated that U-Haul attempted to implement a scheme to collude with competitors, Budget and Penske, to raise prices for truck rentals. The FTC concluded that U-Haul's conduct violated the Federal Trade Commission Act, 15 U.S.C. 45(a)(1). The proposed consent order was designed to prevent collusion. U-Haul consented to the relief, but did not admit the conduct or violation. A consumer filed a complaint charging U-Haul with violating Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 93A by engaging in an attempted price-fixing scheme and seeking damages on behalf of a large class. The suit, a follow-on action after a proposed government consent decree, is common in antitrust cases. Because the FTC Act contains no private right of action and the Sherman Act is of doubtful application to price-fixing, the suit rested chapter 93A, which prohibits "[u]nfair methods of competition and unfair or deceptive acts or practices," and permits consumer class actions. The complaint alleged that U-Haul's actions caused plaintiff to pay at least 10 percent more for truck rentals than she would have absent the unlawful action. The district court dismissed, stating that the complaint failed plausibly to allege injury. The First Circuit vacated, finding the claim plausible. View "Liu v. Amerco" on Justia Law
Glazer v. Whirlpool Corp.
The named plaintiffs are Ohio residents who purchased front-loading washing machines manufactured by defendant. Within months after their purchases, the plaintiffs noticed the smell of mold or mildew emanating from the machines and from laundry washed in the machines. One plaintiff found mold growing on the sides of the detergent dispenser, another saw mold growing on the rubber door seal, despite allowing the machine doors to stand open. They filed suit, alleging tortious breach of warranty, negligent design, and negligent failure to warn. The district court certified a class comprised of Ohio residents who purchased one of the specified machines in Ohio primarily for personal, family, or household purposes and not for resale (Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(a) and (b)(3)). The Sixth Circuit affirmed class certification, with proof of damages reserved for individual determination. Plaintiffs’ proof established numerosity, commonality, typicality, and adequate representation. Common questions predominate over individual ones and class action is a superior method to adjudicate the claims.View "Glazer v. Whirlpool Corp." on Justia Law
Salling v. Budget Rent A Car Sys., Inc.
Plaintiff rented a car, drove 64 miles in one day, refilled the fuel tank, and returned the car to the same location from which he rented the car. In addition to rental and other fees that he does not dispute, he was charged a $13.99 fuel service fee that he challenged by filing a putative class action, claiming breach of contract, fraud, and unjust enrichment. Defendant claimed that, because plaintiff drove fewer than 75 miles during the rental period, to avoid the charge he was required to return the car with a full fuel tank and to submit a receipt. The district court dismissed, finding that the contract was not ambiguous. The Sixth Circuit affirmed, citing the voluntary payment doctrine.View "Salling v. Budget Rent A Car Sys., Inc." on Justia Law
Drs. Pass and Bertherman, Inc. v. Neighborhood Health Plan of R.I.
When Neighborhood Health Plan of Rhode Island (NHP), a not-for-profit corporation that operated a licensed health maintenance organization that provided health insurance coverage to its enrollees, began reimbursing ophthalmologists at a higher rate than the rate paid to optometrists for performing the same services, two optometrists brought an action on behalf of all optometrists who had entered into participating provider agreements with NHP during the period that the differential reimbursement policy was in effect, contending that this differential reimbursement violated state law. The superior court granted summary judgment in favor of NHP, reasoning that the antidiscrimination provision in R.I. Gen. Laws 5-35-21.1(b) applied only to expenditures of public funds and that NHP did not violate the statute because NHP paid for the ophthalmologists' services using private money. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the statute at issue was not ambiguous; and (2) the motion justice did not err in concluding that NHP is not an agency or department of the state and cannot otherwise be considered a state actor. View "Drs. Pass and Bertherman, Inc. v. Neighborhood Health Plan of R.I." on Justia Law
Reilly v. Ceridian Corp.
Defendant is a payroll processing firm that collects information about its customers' employees, which may include names, addresses, social security numbers, dates of birth, and bank account information. In 2009, defendant suffered a security breach. It is not known whether the hacker read, copied, or understood the data. Defendant sent letters to the potential identity theft victims and arranged to provide the potentially affected individuals with one year of free credit monitoring and identity theft protection. Plaintiffs, employees of a former customer filed a class action, which was dismissed for lack of standing and failure to state a claim. The Third Circuit affirmed. Allegations of hypothetical, future injury do not establish standing under the "actual case of controversy" requirement of Article III. View "Reilly v. Ceridian Corp." on Justia Law
Russell v. United States
The Army and Air Force Exchange Service issues credit cards to military personnel to purchase uniforms and other merchandise from post-exchange stores on military bases. During the relevant period balances for uniforms were interest-free. Plaintiff opened an account in 1997 and became delinquent in 2000. In 2009 He filed suit claiming that the interest rate on delinquent debt exceed that specified in the agreement. The Exchange the conducted an audit and adjusted the accounts of 46,851 individuals, including plaintiff, who received a refund. A second audit resulted in adjustments to accounts of an additional 103,320 individuals. The district court dismissed plaintiff's claim as moot and denied class certification. The Federal Circuit vacated. While plaintiff's individual claim was moot, it is unclear whether the claims of all class members were satisfied. View "Russell v. United States" on Justia Law
Kreisler & Kreisler, LLC v. National City Bank, et al.
Plaintiff brought a class action against the Bank, alleging that the Bank breached its contract by charging interest in excess of the rate specified in the promissory note. The court affirmed the district court's grant of the Bank's motion to dismiss where the district court correctly concluded that the relevant provisions were clear, did not conflict with one another, and adequately disclosed the interest to be charged.
Metz v. Unizan Bank
In 1991, Carpenter pled guilty to aggravated theft and bank fraud. He served jail time and was disbarred. Between 1998 and 2000, he ran a Ponzi scheme, selling investments in sham companies, promising a guaranteed return. A class action resulted in a judgment of $15,644,384 against Carpenter. Plaintiffs then sued drawee banks, alleging that they violated the UCC "properly payable rule" by paying checks plaintiffs wrote to sham corporations, and depositary banks, alleging that they violated the UCC and committed fraud by depositing checks into accounts for fraudulent companies. The district court dismissed some claims as time-barred and some for failure to state a claim. After denying class certification, the court granted defendant summary judgment on the conspiracy claim, based on release of Carpenter in earlier litigation; a jury ruled in favor of defendant on aiding and abetting. The Sixth Circuit affirmed. Claims by makers of the checks are time-barred; the "discovery" rule does not apply and would not save the claims. Ohio "Blue Sky" laws provide the limitations period for fraud claims, but those claims would also be barred by the common law limitations period. The district court retained subject matter jurisdiction to rule on other claims, following denial of class certification under the Class Action Fairness Act, 28 U.S.C. 1332(d).
Huston, et al. v. Mercedes-Benz USA, L.L.C., et al.
Plaintiffs William and Connie Huston sought to enforce the terms of a global class action settlement agreement in the circuit court when defendants Mercedes-Benz and Smith Motor Cars allegedly refused to repair the plaintiffs' sports utility vehicle in accordance with the settlement agreement. The defendants moved to dismiss, claiming that the circuit court did not have jurisdiction to adjudicate the Hustons' claims. The circuit court certified to the Supreme Court the question of the circuit court's authority to adjudicate the plaintiffs' lawsuit against the defendants. The Supreme Court concluded that the circuit court did not have jurisdiction to consider the plaintiffs' lawsuit because continuing jurisdiction over the settlement agreement had been retained by the federal district court where the global class action settlement agreement was originally reached. As such, the plaintiffs could not properly maintain their suit against the defendants in the circuit court.