Justia Class Action Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Government Law
Michigan ex rel Gurganus v. CVS Caremark Corp.
Before the Supreme Court, three actions: two class actions and a qui tam action brought in the name of the state of Michigan involving allegations that multiple pharmacies systematically violated MCL 333.17755(2) by improperly retaining savings that should have been passed on to customers when dispensing generic drugs in the place of their brand-name equivalents. Furthermore, plaintiffs argued that violations of section 17755(2) necessarily resulted in violations of the Health Care False Claim Act (HCFCA) and the Medicaid False Claim Act (MFCA) when pharmacists submitted reimbursement claims to the state for Medicaid payments that they were not entitled to receive. "The inferences and assumptions required to implicate defendants [were] simply too tenuous for plaintiffs' claims to survive summary judgment. Moreover, plaintiffs' overbroad approach of identifying all transactions in which a generic drug was dispensed fail[ed] to hone in on the only relevant transactions - those in which a generic drug was dispensed in place of a brand-name drug." The Supreme Court reversed the Court of Appeals’ construction of MCL 333.17755(2) and its holding that plaintiffs' pleadings were sufficient to survive summary judgment, vacated the remainder of the Court of Appeals' judgment, and reinstated the trial court's grant of summary judgment to defendants. View "Michigan ex rel Gurganus v. CVS Caremark Corp." on Justia Law
Rekhter v. Dep’t of Soc. & Health Servs.
In this class action case, a jury found that the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) violated the implied duty of good faith and fair dealing in its contracts with individual providers who live with the DSHS clients for whom they provide care. The jury found that the providers incurred over $57 million in damages, and the judge awarded an additional $38 million in interest. The DSHS clients who lived with their providers also filed a class action suit, but the judge did not allow them to recover any damages. Upon review of the matter, the Supreme Court upheld the jury's verdict for the providers, the judge's decision to disallow the clients from recovering damages, and the dismissal of the providers' wage claims, because all complied with Washington law. However, the Court reversed the judge's award of prejudgment interest because the damages could not be determined with certainty. View "Rekhter v. Dep't of Soc. & Health Servs." on Justia Law
Thomas v. Merritt
In consolidated appeals, defendants the Alabama Department of Corrections, various department officials, and Governor Robert Bentley, appealed in case no. 1111588, the trial court's determination limiting certain deductions from work-release earnings for inmates. In case no. 1120264, Jerry Mack Merritt (as sole representative of the plaintiff class) cross-appealed, raising numerous challenges to the trial court's final judgment. After its review, the Supreme Court dismissed the appeal in case no. 1120264 as untimely filed; in case no. 1111588, the Court reversed and remanded. The Court found that the department's interpretation of section 14-8-6 as permitting its collection of charges, which were not incident to the inmate's confinement, in excess of a 40% withholding cap established by that statute was both reasonable and consistent with the statutory language. View "Thomas v. Merritt" on Justia Law
Roethlein v. Portnoff Law Assoc.
In November 2002, Appellee Beverly Roethlein, an Allentown taxpayer, filed a class action complaint against Portnoff Law Associates, Ltd., and Michelle Portnoff, Esquire (the firm's sole shareholder) seeking recovery for unjust enrichment and violations of Section 502 of Act 6, Pennsylvania’s Loan Interest and Protection Law. Portnoff serves as a private tax collector for various municipalities and school districts, and had contracts with 22 municipalities to represent them in the collection of delinquent real estate taxes. Taxpayers would be charged $150 for the opening of a file and preparation of a demand letter; $150 for the filing of a lien and preparation of a second letter; and $150 for preparation and filing of a writ of scire facias. The contracts required the municipalities to enact an ordinance or resolution authorizing Portnoff to impose legal fees upon the delinquent taxpayer. From the time a file was sent to her for collection, Portnoff began charging 10% interest on the principal. The issue before the Supreme Court in this case was whether the Loan Interest and Protection Law provided taxpayers with a cause of action to challenge costs imposed for the collection of delinquent taxes or to seek damages and attorneys’ fees for improperly-imposed costs. Furthermore, at issue was whether Section 7103 of the Municipal Claims and Tax Liens Act authorized a municipality to recover the administrative costs it incurs in collecting delinquent taxes. After review, the Court concluded that Act 6 does not provide a cause of action for claims which do not involve the loan or use of money. Furthermore, the Court concluded Section 7103 of the MCTLA allows a municipality to recover fees it pays to a third-party tax collector for the purpose of collecting delinquent taxes. In light of these conclusions, the Court reversed the decision of the Commonwealth Court, and remanded the case to the Commonwealth Court for further proceedings. View "Roethlein v. Portnoff Law Assoc." on Justia Law
Weimer v. Sanders
Petitioners in these combined cases were former public employees who filed actions in the circuit court alleging violations of the West Virginia Human Rights Act (WVHRA). The circuit courts dismissed the complaints for Petitioners' failures to exhaust their administrative remedies, concluding that the exhaustion of administrative remedies available pursuant to the West Virginia Public Employees Grievance Procedure was a necessary precondition to the filing of a circuit court action. The Supreme Court reversed the rulings of the circuit courts, holding (1) a public employee, whose employment confers grievance rights before the West Virginia Public Employees Grievance Board, is not required to exhaust the administrative Grievance Procedure before initiating a complaint in the circuit court alleging violations of the WVHRA; and (2) the commencement of the Grievance Procedure does not preclude the institution of a circuit court action prior to exhaustion of the Grievance Procedure. Remanded.View "Weimer v. Sanders" on Justia Law
Alabama Mutual Insurance Corporation v. City of Vernon et al.
Alabama Mutual Insurance Corporation ("AMIC"), the defendant in an action pending at the Lamar Circuit Court filed by the City of Vernon on behalf of itself and other similarly situated entities, appealed the court's order that certified a class in that action. Vernon stated that it had reached an agreement with AMIC regarding individual claims and therefore no longer wished to pursue them. AMIC filed a response to Vernon's motion in which it argued that the Supreme Court should remand the case to the trial court with instructions to dismiss it because now the case was missing its named representative, and therefore the requirements for a class action could not be met. Vernon argued it had the right to withdraw from the pending litigation, but because the trial court certified the class, the litigation remains viable. Vernon requested time in which to allow the class to name a new representative. The Supreme Court agreed with Vernon that the trial court should have the opportunity to determine whether a new named plaintiff should be certified. "The trial court is the proper entity to decide whether to allow the class members to amend their complaint to substitute a new named plaintiff and to determine whether that plaintiff meets the adequacy requirements in Rule 23(a), Ala. R. Civ. P., so as to represent the class." As such, AMIC's appeal was dismissed, and the case remanded to the trial court for further proceedings. View "Alabama Mutual Insurance Corporation v. City of Vernon et al. " on Justia Law
Small v. Fed. Nat’l Mortg. Ass’n
The Clerk of the Circuit Court of the City of Fredericksburg, filed a putative class action in the federal district court against the Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae), and the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (Freddie Mac), alleging that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac had failed to pay recordation taxes imposed by Code §§ 58.1-801 and -802. The federal court certified to the Virginia Supreme Court two questions: Under Virginia law, does a clerk of court possess statutory standing to initiate a lawsuit, in his official capacity, to enforce the real estate transfer tax; If a clerk of court does possess such authority, does Virginia law authorize him to do so as a class representative on behalf of all clerks of court throughout the Commonwealth? The court answered the first question “no” and did not address the second. The court characterized the clerk’s duties as ministerial and noted the statutory scheme for enforcement of the transfer tax.View "Small v. Fed. Nat'l Mortg. Ass'n" on Justia Law
Wilson v. Thomas
The Alabama Department of Corrections ("ADOC"), the Alabama Corrections Institution Finance Authority ("ACIFA"), and Kim Thomas, in his official capacities as the commissioner of ADOC and as ex officio vice president of ACIFA, petitioned the Supreme Court for a writ of mandamus to direct the Montgomery Circuit Court to vacate its May 2012 order denying their motion seeking a partial summary judgment and requested the court enter a new order granting their motion. In 2010, Albert Wilson, Rufus Barnes, Joseph Danzey, Bryan Gavins, and Donald Simmons, all of whom were employed by ADOC as correctional officers, sued ADOC and its then commissioner Richard Allen alleging that ADOC was violating its own regulations and state law in the manner in which it: (1) compensated correctional officers for overtime; (2) restricted the way correctional officers were allowed to use earned leave; and (3) paid correctional officers the daily subsistence allowance provided by law. The plaintiffs also sought class certification on behalf of all other similarly situated correctional officers employed by ADOC and requested injunctive relief, as well as money damages, to include backpay with interest, punitive damages, and litigation costs and expenses, including attorney fees. Because ADOC and Thomas, in his official capacity as commissioner of ADOC, were entitled to State immunity on those claims, the Court granted the petition as to ADOC and Thomas, in his capacity as commissioner of ADOC, and issued the writ. However, ACIFA and Thomas, in his official capacity as vice president of ACIFA, did not argue that they were entitled to State immunity on the claims asserted against them; rather, they argued that those claims lacked merit. That argument presented an insufficient basis upon which to issue a writ of mandamus, and the Supreme Court therefore denied the petition with regard to the those claims because ACIFA and Thomas had an adequate remedy on appeal. View "Wilson v. Thomas " on Justia Law
Bond v. Martineau
Plaintiffs Kenneth Bond and Deborah Thibault, on behalf of themselves and a class of others similarly situated, appealed a superior court order granting summary judgment to the defendants, the City of Manchester and Paul Martineau in his official capacity as Commissioner of the Manchester Welfare Department (collectively, the City). In January 2010, the plaintiffs applied for general assistance from the City pursuant to RSA chapter 165. See RSA 165:1, I (2002). On February 24, 2010, the City approved $140.00 per week in rental assistance. On March 18, 2010, the City suspended this assistance for seven days because of the plaintiffs' failure to provide certain documentation, including that which related to $30 the plaintiffs used to buy gas for a vehicle. The City lifted this suspension on March 25, 2010, noting that the plaintiffs were "unable to show compliance with the $30 purchase of vehicle gas that [they] stated [they] had previously purchased through an alternate financial resource." On April 9, 2010, the City revoked an April 8 voucher and denied the plaintiffs all assistance for six months because they had misrepresented information related to their vehicle. The plaintiffs petitioned the superior court to enjoin the City from suspending their assistance. Because the Supreme Court held that RSA 165:1-b and the Guidelines pertaining to rental assistance actually conflict, the Court reversed the trial court's grant of summary judgment in favor of the City and remanded the case for further proceedings.View "Bond v. Martineau" on Justia Law
Perez-Farias v. Global Horizons, Inc.
Three certified questions came before the court from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals concerning application of the farm labor contractors act (FLCA), chapter 19.30 RCW. The primary question asked whether a trial court, if awarding statutory damages under the civil remedies provision of the FLCA must award $500 per plaintiff per violation. Upon review, the Washington Supreme Court answered in the affirmative. The second question asked whether requiring a trial court to award $500 per plaintiff per violation violated due process or public policy; the Court answered in the negative, expressly limiting its analysis and holding on this question to state due process principles and statutes. The third question asked whether the FLCA provided for awarding statutory damages to persons who have not been shown to have been aggrieved by a particular violation. "Because our standing jurisprudence tracks that of the United States Supreme Court, we leave to the Ninth Circuit to answer this question based on its standing jurisprudence and the standing jurisprudence of the Supreme Court." View "Perez-Farias v. Global Horizons, Inc." on Justia Law