Justia Class Action Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Consumer Law
LUCINE TRIM V. REWARD ZONE USA LLC, ET AL
Plaintiff appealed from the district court’s partial judgment granting a motion to dismiss in favor of Defendant, Reward Zone USA, LLC (Reward Zone), in a putative class action lawsuit brought under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). In Plaintiff’s second cause of action, which is the subject of this opinion, Plaintiff alleged a violation of the TCPA because she received at least three mass marketing text messages from Reward Zone which utilized “prerecorded voices.” The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court’s dismissal. The court held the text messages did not use prerecorded voices under the Act because they did not include audible components. The panel relied on the statutory context of the Act and the ordinary meaning of voice, which showed that Congress used the word voice to include only an audible sound, and not a more symbolic definition such as an instrument or medium of expression. The panel addressed Plaintiff’s appeal of the district court’s dismissal of another cause of action under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act in a simultaneously-filed memorandum disposition. View "LUCINE TRIM V. REWARD ZONE USA LLC, ET AL" on Justia Law
Moran v. Prime Healthcare Management, Inc.
Plaintiff Gene Moran, who was a patient at Huntington Beach Hospital (the Hospital) three times in 2013, sued defendants Prime Healthcare Management, Inc., Prime Healthcare Huntington Beach, LLC, Prime Healthcare Services, Inc., and Prime Healthcare Foundation, Inc. (collectively defendants) under various theories in 2013. In a prior opinion, the Court of Appeal found that while most of Moran’s claims lacked merit, he had sufficiently alleged facts supporting standing to claim the amount that self-pay patients were charged was unconscionable, and reversed the trial court’s dismissal of the case. Moran’s sixth amended complaint included both the allegations regarding unconscionability and a new theory of the case: defendants had violated the Unfair Competition Law (UCL), and the Consumer Legal Remedies Act (CLRA) by failing to disclose Evaluation and Management (EMS) fees charged in the emergency room through signage or other methods. The complaint sought relief under both the old and new theories for violations of the UCL, CLRA, and for declaratory relief. Defendants moved to strike the allegations regarding EMS fees, arguing their disclosure obligations were defined by statute. The trial court agreed and struck the allegations from the sixth amended complaint. Finding no reversible error in that decision, the Court of Appeal affirmed. View "Moran v. Prime Healthcare Management, Inc." on Justia Law
Susan Drazen, et al v. Mr. Juan Pinto
In August 2019, Plaintiff filed a class action against GoDaddy. The putative class alleged that the web-hosting company embarked on an unlawful telemarketing campaign. Objector-Appellant then filed an objection and moved to reconsider the fee award. He made two arguments. First, he objected that the district court awarded fees to class counsel twenty days before the court’s purported objection deadline. Second, he claimed that the parties’ settlement was a “coupon settlement” under 28 U.S.C. Section 1712(e) of the Class Action Fairness Act because GoDaddy class members could select GoDaddy vouchers as their recompense. The question at the core of this appeal is whether the plaintiffs who received a single unwanted, illegal telemarketing text message suffered a concrete injury. The Eleventh Circuit remanded this appeal to the panel to consider the CAFA issues raised in Appellant’s appeal. The court held that the receipt of an unwanted text message causes a concrete injury. The court explained that while an unwanted text message is insufficiently offensive to satisfy the common law’s elements, Congress has used its lawmaking powers to recognize a lower quantum of injury necessary to bring a claim under the TCPA. As a result, the plaintiffs’ harm “is smaller in degree rather than entirely absent.” View "Susan Drazen, et al v. Mr. Juan Pinto" on Justia Law
Hoosier Contractors, LLC v. Gardner
The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the judgment of the trial court denying Hoosier Contractors, LLC's motion for summary judgment, denying Sean Gardner's motion for partial summary judgment, and denying Hoosier's motion to decertify a class of Hoosier's similarly situated customers, holding that Gardner, on behalf of himself and as class representative, lacked standing to bring his counterclaim against Hoosier.When Gardner asked Hoosier to inspect the roof of his home Hoosier made Gardner sign a contract for Hoosier to perform any needed work. When Gardner refused to let Hoosier repair his roof Hoosier brought this action for breach of contract. Gardner filed a counterclaim, on behalf of himself and a class of similarly situated customers, alleging that the contract violated the Indiana Home Improvement Contractors Act and that the violations were deceptive acts under the Indiana Deceptive Consumer Sales Act. The Supreme Court held (1) Gardner lacked standing to bring his counterclaim against Hoosier, and this disposition mooted the class-action issues; and (2) the court of appeals properly affirmed the denial of Gardner's motion for partial summary judgment as to Hoosier's breach of contract claim. View "Hoosier Contractors, LLC v. Gardner" on Justia Law
Eric Steinmetz, et al v. Brinker International, Inc.
Brinker International, Inc. (“Brinker”), the owner of Chili’s restaurants, faced a cyber-attack in which customers’ credit and debit cards were compromised. Chili’s customers have brought a class action because their information was accessed (and in some cases used) and disseminated by cyber criminals. The district court certified the class, and Brinker appealed that decision. On appeal, Brinker mounted three arguments: 1) the District Court’s class certification order violates our precedent on Article III standing for class actions; 2) the district court improvidently granted certification because the class will eventually require individualized mini-trials on class members’ injuries; and 3) the district court erred by finding that a common damages methodology existed for the class. The Eleventh Circuit vacated in part and remanded. The court explained that although all three plaintiffs adequately allege a concrete injury sufficient for Article III standing, two of the plaintiffs' allegations face a fatal causation issue. The court explained that while the district court’s interpretation of the class definitions surely meets the standing analysis, the court has outlined for one of the named plaintiffs, the court noted that the phrase in the class definitions “accessed by cybercriminals” is broader than the two delineated categories the district court gave, which were limited to cases of fraudulent charges or posting of credit card information on the dark web. Therefore, the court remanded this case to give the district court the opportunity to clarify its predominance finding. View "Eric Steinmetz, et al v. Brinker International, Inc." on Justia Law
George Tershakovec, et al v. Ford Motor Company, Inc.
Ford Motor Company advertised its Shelby GT350 Mustang as “track ready.” But some Shelby models weren’t equipped for long track runs, and when the cars overheated, they would rapidly decelerate. A group of Shelby owners sued Ford on various state-law fraud theories and sought class certification, which the district court granted in substantial part. Ford challenged class certification on the ground that proving each plaintiff’s reliance on the alleged misinformation requires individualized proof and, therefore, that common questions don’t “predominate” within the meaning of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(b)(3). The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court’s certification of the statutory classes in Florida, New York, Missouri, and Washington. The court reversed the certification of the Texas statutory consumer-fraud claim and the Tennessee, New York, and Washington common-law fraud claims. And the court remanded for the district court to consider whether the facts, in this case, support a presumption of reliance for the California statutory and common-law fraud claims and whether California- and Texas-based breach-of-implied-warranty claims satisfy state-law requirements. Finally, the court instructed the district court on remand to reconsider the manageability issue. View "George Tershakovec, et al v. Ford Motor Company, Inc." on Justia Law
Powers v. Receivables Performance Management, LLC
The First Circuit dismissed the appeal in the underlying putative action removed from Massachusetts state court to the federal district court concerning a motion to compel arbitration, holding that the order was not a final decision and not within an exception that would permit interlocutory review.Plaintiff brought this putative class action alleging that Defendant, a debt collector, alleging violations of Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 93A and 940 Mass. Code Regs. 7.01-.10. Defendant moved to compel arbitration in the state court, relying on an arbitration provision in the service contract between Plaintiff and the holder of the alleged debt Defendant was attempting to collect. The state court denied the motion, after which Defendant removed the case to federal court, where it filed another motion to compel arbitration. The district court treated the motion as a motion for reconsideration of the state court order denying the arbitration and then denied it. The First Circuit dismissed Defendant's appeal, holding that this was an improper interlocutory appeal. View "Powers v. Receivables Performance Management, LLC" on Justia Law
Andrez Marquez, et al v. Amazon.com, Inc.
At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Amazon.com, Inc. (“Amazon”) stopped providing “Rapid Delivery”1 to Amazon Prime (“Prime”) subscribers. Because Prime subscribers were not notified of the suspension and continued to pay full price for their memberships, Plaintiff and others brought a putative class action against Amazon alleging breach of contract, breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing, violation of the Washington Consumer Protection Act (“WCPA”), and unjust enrichment. The district court granted Amazon’s motion to dismiss the First Amended Complaint for failure to state a claim with prejudice because it found that Amazon did not have a duty to provide unqualified Rapid Delivery to Prime subscribers. The Eleventh Circuit affirmed. The court first wrote that it is allowed to use its “experience and common sense” to acknowledge the COVID-19 pandemic even though it was not included as a factual allegation in the First Amended Complaint. The court dispensed with this argument because Amazon’s prioritization of essential goods during the COVID-19 pandemic obviously did not harm the public interest. Further, the court explained that Plaintiffs specifically incorporated the terms of their contract with Amazon as part of their unjust enrichment count. So, while Plaintiffs may plead breach of contract and unjust enrichment in the alternative, they have not done so. Instead, Plaintiffs pleaded a contractual relationship as part of their unjust enrichment claim, and that contractual relationship defeats their unjust enrichment claim under Washington law. View "Andrez Marquez, et al v. Amazon.com, Inc." on Justia Law
State ex rel. West Virginia-American Water Co. v. Honorable Webster
In a putative class action involving a water main break the Supreme Court denied a requested writ of prohibition sought by West Virginia-American Water Company (WVAWC) to preclude enforcement of the circuit court's order certifying an "issues" class pursuant to W. Va. R. Civ. P. 23(c)(4), holding that WVAWC failed to demonstrate that the circuit court's class certification was clearly erroneous.The water break in this case and its ensuing repair resulted in water service interruptions that caused outages, inadequate water pressure, and boil water advisories affecting 25,000 WVAWC customers. Respondents filed this putative class complaint on behalf of the putative class asserting breach of contract and other claims. The circuit court certified the "issues" class to determine "the overarching common issues" as to WVAWC's liability, resulting in WVAWC bringing this action. The Supreme Court denied the requested writ of prohibition, holding that WVAWC failed to demonstrate that the circuit court's class certification was clearly erroneous. View "State ex rel. West Virginia-American Water Co. v. Honorable Webster" 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