Justia Class Action Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Education Law
Fowler v. Guerin
Washington public school teachers filed a class action to order the Director of DRS to return interest that was allegedly skimmed from their state-managed retirement accounts. The Ninth Circuit reversed the district court's denial of a stipulated motion to certify a class and dismissal of the action as prudentially unripe. The panel held that the district court erred in dismissing the teachers' takings claim as prudentially unripe because DRS's withholding of the interest accrued on the teachers' accounts constitutes a per se taking to which the prudential ripeness test in Williamson County Regional Planning Commission v. Hamilton Bank of Johnson City, 473 U.S. 172 (1985), did not apply.In regard to the Director's alternative grounds for summary judgment, the panel held that plaintiffs stated a takings claim for daily interest withheld by the Director; the panel clarified that the core property right recognized in Schneider v. California Department of Corrections, 151 F.3d 1194 (9th Cir. 1988), covered interest earned daily, even if payable less frequently; plaintiffs' takings claim was not barred by issue preclusion or by the Rooker-Feldman doctrine; and the takings claim was not foreclosed by the Eleventh Amendment. The panel also held that the district court erred in denying the motion for class certification. Accordingly, the panel remanded for further proceedings. View "Fowler v. Guerin" on Justia Law
Hollins v. Regency Corp.
Regency operated for‐profit cosmetology schools in 20 states. Each offered classroom instruction and practical instruction in a salon, where members of the public could receive cosmetology services at low prices. Hollins, formerly a Regency student, asserts that the work she performed was compensable under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), 29 U.S.C. 201, and that Regency violated state wage laws. She wanted to bring suit as an FLSA collective action and a state class action but the district court denied her motion to conditionally certify the FLSA action and never certified a class action under FRCP 23. The court addressed the individual merits of her case and granted summary judgment in Regency’s favor. Regency has since closed. The Seventh Circuit affirmed, first rejecting a claim that it lacked jurisdiction. There was a final judgment despite the unaccepted opt‐in notices that the court received. On the merits, the court noted that time on the Professional Floor was a state‐mandated requirement for professional licensure; Hollins was actually paying for supervised practical experience; Regency was in the educational business, not in the beauty salon business; and Hollins did not need to go out and find a place where she could serve her supervised practice. View "Hollins v. Regency Corp." on Justia Law
Harnish v. Widener Univ. Sch. of Law
Named plaintiffs, 2008-2011 graduates of the Widener School of Law, claim that Widener violated the New Jersey and Delaware Consumer Fraud Acts by intentionally publishing misleading statistics, reporting that in 2005-2011, 90-97% of graduates were employed. In reality, only 50-70% of Widener graduates secured full-time legal positions. The school included non-legal and part-time positions without reporting the breakdown. In 2011, Widener improved its reporting, but allegedly continued to gather unreliable information by crediting secondhand accounts of employment and avoiding responses from unemployed graduates. The plaintiffs claim that publishing misleading statistics enabled Widener to inflate tuition. The plaintiffs moved to certify a class of “persons who enrolled in Widener University School of Law and were charged full or part-time tuition within the statutory period.” The district court denied class certification, finding that the plaintiffs could not meet FRCP 23(b)(3)’s requirement that common questions “predominate” over individual questions because they had not shown that they could prove damages by common evidence. The court noted differences in class members’ employment outcomes and that New Jersey has rejected a “fraud-on-the-market” theory outside the securities fraud context. Plaintiffs could not meet Rule 23(a)(3)’s requirement that the named plaintiffs’ claims be “typical” of the claims of the proposed class; students who enrolled in 2012 and later, after Widener improved its reporting, might prefer not to have Widener’s reputation tarnished by the lawsuit. The Third Circuit affirmed. The plaintiffs’ theory was insufficiently supported by class-wide evidence. View "Harnish v. Widener Univ. Sch. of Law" on Justia Law
Chicago Teachers Union v. Bd. of Educ. of the City of Chicago
When the Chicago Board of Education deems a school to be deficient, it implements a reconstitution, replacing all administrators, faculty, and staff. A school may be subject to turnaround if it has been on probation for at least one year and has failed to make adequate progress . Under the collective bargaining agreement, tenured teachers are placed in a pool where they continue to receive a full salary and benefits for one school year. If a tenured teacher does not find a new position within that year, she is honorably terminated. Others are eligible for the cadre pool where they can receive substitute assignments, paid per assignment. From 2004-2011, the Board reconstituted 16 schools. In 2011, the Board identified 74 schools by removing schools that met the objective criteria related to standardized test scores and graduation rates. Brizard chose the final 10 schools. All were in areas where African Americans make up 40.9% of tenured teachers. No schools were selected from the north side, where only 6.5% of tenured teachers are African American. Of the teachers displaced, 51% were African American, despite comprising just 27% of the overall CPS teaching population. Teachers and the Union filed suit. The court declined to certify a class of: All African American persons … teacher or para-professional staff … subjected to reconstitution. The court found that the plaintiffs had not met established a common issue and had not adequately shown that common questions of law or fact predominated over individual claims. The Seventh Circuit reversed, finding that the class can be certified under both Rule 23(b)(2) and 23(b)(3). View "Chicago Teachers Union v. Bd. of Educ. of the City of Chicago" on Justia Law
Oliver v. Orleans Parish School Board
This class action arose out of the termination of approximately 7,600 former teachers and other permanent employees of the Orleans Parish School Board (OPSB) as a result of Hurricane Katrina and the State of Louisiana’s subsequent takeover of Orleans Parish schools. Although the district court denied defendants’ exceptions of res judicata, a five judge panel of the court of appeal unanimously found that res judicata ordinarily would apply to the facts of this case, but that exceptional circumstances barred its application. The Louisiana Supreme Court granted two writ applications to determine whether the doctrine of res judicata barred plaintiffs’ claims against the OPSB and/or the State defendants, and, if not, whether the OPSB and/or the State defendants violated the plaintiffs’ due process rights in relation to the plaintiffs’ terminations. The Supreme Court agreed with the court of appeal that res judicata applied but found no exceptional circumstances that would preclude its application. Furthermore, the Court found that, even if res judicata did not apply to certain parties’ claims, neither the OPSB nor the State defendants violated plaintiffs’ due process rights. View "Oliver v. Orleans Parish School Board" on Justia Law
Ferguson, et al. v. Corinthian Colleges, Inc., et al.
Plaintiffs filed a putative class action suit on behalf of current and former students, alleging that Corinthian engaged in a deceptive scheme to entice the enrollment of prospective students in violation of California law. Corinthian moved to compel arbitration pursuant to arbitration clauses in plaintiffs' enrollment agreements. The court concluded that the Broughton-Cruz rule, which exempted claims for "public injunctive relief" from arbitration, was preempted by the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA), 9 U.S.C. 2. In the alternative, the court concluded that plaintiffs' claims were within the scope of their arbitration agreements and plaintiffs were required to arbitrate their public injunction claims. Accordingly, the court reversed the district court's order denying Corinthian's motion to compel arbitration and remanded. View "Ferguson, et al. v. Corinthian Colleges, Inc., et al." on Justia Law
Spurlock v. Fox
The parents and the grandmother of two black children sued the Nashville Board of Public Education on behalf of their children and all black students in the District whose school assignments were adversely affected by the elimination of the mandatory noncontiguous transfer zones. They allege that the Rezoning Plan eliminated the desirable practice of being bused to a good, racially diverse school and replaced it with two inferior choices: staying in a bad, racially isolated neighborhood school or being bused to a bad, racially diverse school. They claim that has led to resegregation in violation of the students’ rights under the Equal Protection Clause. The district court ruled in favor of the Board. The Sixth Circuit affirmed, finding that the change serves legitimate state interests in school under-utilization. The Plan actually solved the problem that many schools were operating at levels below what their resources and infrastructure would permit, while other schools were overflowing. The court stopped short of endorsing the Plan, noting that certain students in poor neighborhoods had to share textbooks; that the racial achievement gap apparently exists much as before; and that Nashville public-school students as a whole continue to do poorly after the Plan. View "Spurlock v. Fox" on Justia Law
Reed v. Florida Metro University, Inc., et al.
This case arose when plaintiff filed a putative class action in Texas state court alleging that defendants had violated certain provisions of the Texas Education Code by soliciting students in Texas without the appropriate certifications. Defendants subsequently appealed the district court's confirmation of an arbitral award that required them to submit to class arbitration. They contended that the district court, not the arbitrator, should have decided whether the parties' agreement provided for class arbitration, and that the district court should have vacated the arbitrator's class arbitration award. Because the parties agreed that the arbitrator should decide the class arbitration issue, the court concluded that the district court correctly referred that issue to the arbitrator. The district court erred, however, in confirming the award because the arbitrator exceeded his powers. Therefore, the court reversed and remanded for further proceedings. View "Reed v. Florida Metro University, Inc., et al." on Justia Law
Perdue v. Green
In these consolidated appeals, Carol Perdue, individually and as next friend and guardian of her daughter, Anna; William D. Motlow, Jr.; and Shane Sears (hereinafter collectively referred to as "the objectors"), all of whom were objecting class members in class-action litigation related to the Alabama Prepaid Affordable College Tuition ("PACT") Trust Fund a/k/a The Wallace-Folsom Prepaid College Tuition Trust Fund, appealed the trial court's judgment that approved a class-action settlement concluding the litigation. The objectors largely complained that as contributors or beneficiaries of the PACT fund, it was being mismanaged and underfunded to their detriment. While the case was pending, the Alabama Legislature changed the laws directly impacting the management and funding of the PACT program. The PACT Board responded to the change in the law by moving to dismiss the objectors' suit as moot. The issues on appeal before the Supreme Court involved terms of the settlement agreement: the objectors contended that the trial court permitted language in the agreement that ran afoul of the changed laws and disregarded objections of the complaining members of the class. Upon review, the Supreme Court vacated the trial court's judgment and remanded the case: "[t]he scope of the objections in the trial court was not the narrow question whether the order should bind only the objectors, but, on the contrary, the issue presented [was] the broader question whether the trial court's judgment approving the settlement agreement [was] due to be affirmed. . . . the objectors are allowed to appeal that aspect of the trial court's order that affects them - 'the [circuit court's] decision to disregard [their] objections.' If the judgment [was] affirmed, the settlement agreement affects them in that it binds them, as members of the class, to terms of a settlement agreement inconsistent with 16-33C-19." View "Perdue v. Green" on Justia Law
Jamie S., v. Milwaukee Pub. Sch.
Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, 20 U.S.C. 1400, states receive federal funding for education of disabled children if local schools provide a "free appropriate public education" to all resident children with disabilities. Local districts must identify children with disabilities, determine whether they require special-education services, and develop individualized education programs (IEPs) tailored to each student's specific needs. In 2001, students with disabilities sued Milwaukee Public Schools and the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, alleging IDEA violations. The case became focused on "child find" requirements. DPI settled by agreeing to order MPS to meet compliance benchmarks. The district court approved the settlement over MPS's objection and ordered MPS to set up a court-monitored system to identify disabled children who were delayed or denied entry into the IEP process, implement hybrid IEP meetings, and craft compensatory-education remedies. The Seventh Circuit vacated the class-certification order and liability and remedial orders. IDEA claims are highly individualized, making the case unsuitable for class-action treatment. The claims lack commonality required by Rule 23(a)(2). DPI's settlement was vacated as requiring more of MPS than DPI had the statutory authority to demand. View "Jamie S., v. Milwaukee Pub. Sch." on Justia Law