Justia Class Action Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Injury Law
In re: G-I Holdings, Inc.
Facing asbestos-related personal injury lawsuits filed in the 1980s, a group of producers of asbestos and asbestos-containing products formed the Center for Claims Resolution to administer such claims on behalf of its Members. About 20 Members negotiated and signed the Producer Agreement, which established and set forth the mechanics of the Center and the obligations of the Members. After G-I failed to pay its contractually-calculated share of personal injury settlements and Center expenses, U.S. Gypsum and Quigley were obligated to pay additional sums to cover G-I’s payment obligations. G-I filed for bankruptcy and the Center, U.S. Gypsum, and Quigley each filed a proof of claim, seeking to recover for G-I’s nonpayment under the Producer Agreement. The Center settled its claim with G-I. The Bankruptcy Court granted summary judgment in G-I’s favor. The district court affirmed. The Third Circuit vacated, holding that the Producer Agreement permits the Former Members to pursue a breach of contract action against G-I for its failure to pay contractually-obligated sums due to the Center, in light of their payment of G-I’s share. View "In re: G-I Holdings, Inc." on Justia Law
Genereux v. Raytheon Co.
Plaintiffs filed a putative class action in the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts, invoking federal diversity jurisdiction, alleging that Defendant, Raytheon Company, negligently exposed Plaintiffs and others similarly situated to beryllium. Plaintiffs’ principal theory of liability was that the beryllium exposure caused subcellular change. Plaintiffs alternatively argued that a cause of action for medical monitoring under Massachusetts law does not require a showing of subcellular or other physiological change. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of Defendant. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) because no named Plaintiff or any class member had as yet contracted beryllium sensitization, the first manifestation of subcellular change resulting from beryllium exposure, Plaintiffs’ first claim failed; and (2) Plaintiffs did not preserve a claim under their alternative theory. View "Genereux v. Raytheon Co." on Justia Law
Grandalski v. Quest Diagnostics Inc.
Quest provides diagnostic and clinical testing. In general, it tests a patient’s specimens upon the request of a referring physician. Once Quest bills a patient’s insurance provider, the provider reviews the claim and sends Quest an Explanation of Benefits (EOB) or an Electronic Remittance Advice (ERA), which informs Quest of the amount, if any, that the patient is responsible for paying. Quest then sends the patient a bill, and, if no response is received, it may turn the bill over to a collection agency. Plaintiffs in a putative class action claimed that Quest billed patients in excess of the amount stated on the EOB or ERA. The district court denied certification as to all four proposed classes and granted summary judgment against an individual plaintiff, as to her state law claims of consumer fraud and unjust enrichment. The Third Circuit affirmed. The court properly found that individual inquiries would be required to determine whether an alleged overbilling constituted unjust enrichment for each class member. View "Grandalski v. Quest Diagnostics Inc." on Justia Law
In Re: Deepwater Horizon
This case stemmed from the Deepwater Horizon drilling platform oil spill. On appeal, BP challenged the district court's decision upholding the Claims Administrator's interpretation of the settlement agreement between it and the class of parties injured in the oil spill and the district court's dismissal of its action for breach of contract against the Administrator and denial of its motion for a preliminary injunction. The court concluded that the balance of equities favored a tailored stay where those who experienced actual injury traceable to loss from the Deepwater Horizon accident continued to receive recovery but those who did not receive their payments until this case was fully heard and decided through the judicial process weighed in favor of BP. Accordingly, the court reversed the denial of the preliminary injunction and instructed the district court to expeditiously craft a narrowly-tailored injunction that allowed the time necessary for deliberate reconsideration of significant issues on remand. The court affirmed the district court's dismissal of BP's suit against the Claim Administrator. View "In Re: Deepwater Horizon" on Justia Law
Walker, et al. v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co.
R.J. Reynolds appealed money judgments in favor of the survivors of two smokers. At issue was whether a decision of the Supreme Court of Florida in an earlier class action was entitled to full faith and credit in federal court. The court affirmed the judgments in favor of the survivors because R.J. Reynolds had a full and fair opportunity to be heard in the Florida class action and the application of res judicata under Florida law did not cause an arbitrary deprivation of property. View "Walker, et al. v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co." on Justia Law
In re: W.R. Grace & Co.
Grace has manufactured and sold specialty chemicals and construction materials for more than 100 years. The company began facing asbestos-related lawsuits in the 1970s, based on several products and activities, including operation of a Montana vermiculite mine that released asbestos-containing dust into the atmosphere and sale of Zonolite Attic Insulation (ZAI). Montana and the Crown (Canada) have been sued for alleged failure to warn citizens of the risks posed by Grace’s products and activities. Montana settled its cases for $43 million in 2011. The Crown is a defendant in lawsuits arising from the use of ZAI. Montana and the Crown sought indemnification from Grace. Grace sought protection under the Bankruptcy Code, 11 U.S.C. 524(g), which allows a company to establish a trust to handle such liabilities. Montana and the Crown objected to confirmation of a Plan of Reorganization that will send all asbestos claims to two trusts, allowing protected parties to be “unconditionally, irrevocably and fully released.” The personal injury trust is funded by $ 1.5 billion from settlements with Grace’s insurers and former affiliates, an initial payment from Grace of $ 450 million, a warrant to acquire 10 million shares of Grace common stock at $ 17 per share, and annual cash payments from Grace of $100-110 million through 2033. The property damage trust is funded by an initial payment of 180 million dollars, and a subsequent payment of 30 million dollars. The two trusts have separate mechanisms for resolving claims. The bankruptcy court, the district court, and the Third Circuit confirmed the plan. View "In re: W.R. Grace & Co." on Justia Law
Balintulo v. Daimler AG
Plaintiffs filed putative class-action suits over ten years ago under the Alien Tort Statute (ATS), 28 U.S.C. 1350, on behalf of those harmed by the South African legal regime known as "apartheid." Plaintiffs asserted that defendants aided and abetted violations of customary international law committed by the South African government by selling cars and computers to the South African government. Defendants petitioned for mandamus relief. The court concluded that, in light of the Supreme Court's decision in Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum Co., issuance of the writ was unnecessary in this case because defendants have an adequate means of relief through a motion for judgment on the pleadings; plaintiffs' arguments that Kiobel did not apply where defendants were American citizens, or where the case involved American interests, were without merit; and, because the Kiobel decision plainly foreclosed plaintiffs' claims as a matter of law, the court need not consider whether defendants have asserted a valid basis for "collateral order" jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. 1291. Accordingly, the court denied the petition for mandamus relief and vacated the stay placed by the court on proceedings in the district court. View "Balintulo v. Daimler AG" on Justia Law
Brown v. United Airlines, Inc.
These consolidated appeals comprised two putative class actions brought by skycaps affiliated with two major airlines. After Defendants, the airlines, each introduced a $2 per bag fee for curbside service for departing passengers at airports that did not inure to the benefit of the skycaps, Plaintiffs sued the airlines for unjust enrichment and tortious interference, among other claims. The district court dismissed the unjust enrichment and tortious interference claims as preempted by the Airline Deregulation Act (ADA). Plaintiffs appealed, contending that the ADA does not preempt common-law claims. The First Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed after an analysis of statutory language, congressional intent, and case law, holding that the ADA preempted Plaintiffs' common-law claims. View "Brown v. United Airlines, Inc." on Justia Law
Scimone, et al. v. Carnival Corp., et al.
After Carnival's cruise ship, the Costa Concordia, ran aground off the coast of Italy, two separate actions were filed by groups of 56 and 48 plaintiffs in the Circuit Court of the Eleventh Judicial Circuit of Florida. Carnival removed both actions to district court, claiming that the district court had subject-matter jurisdiction under the mass-action provision of the Class Action Fairness Act of 2005 (CAFA), Pub. L. 109-2, 119 Stat. 4. Plaintiffs moved for remand to state court on the ground that the district court lacked jurisdiction and the district court granted the motion. The court affirmed, concluding that the cases were improvidently removed and should have been remanded where, under the plain language of CAFA and 28 U.S.C. 1332(d)(11), the district court lacked subject-matter jurisdiction over plaintiffs' two separate actions unless they proposed to try 100 or more persons' claims jointly. View "Scimone, et al. v. Carnival Corp., et al." on Justia Law
In re: Asbestos Prod Liab. Litig.
The 12 plaintiffs are represented by CVLO, which serves as counsel in approximately 2000 cases pending in multidistrict asbestos litigation. The CVLO cases represent the second largest land-based group of cases to remain in the litigation. The district court dismissed the plaintiffs’ cases, for failure to comply with orders requiring submission of medical reports and histories of exposure to asbestos in compliance with “generally accepted medical standards [that] call for information regarding duration, intensity, time of onset, and setting of exposure to asbestos.” The Third Circuit affirmed, characterizing the court orders as “typical … in the context of the management of multidistrict litigation.” In dismissing plaintiffs’ cases, the court considered and weighed the relevant factors, viewing the dilatory and prejudicial aspects as outweighing all others. The flaw in the submissions went to the very heart of the “meritorious” aspect, making the weighing of that factor impossible. View "In re: Asbestos Prod Liab. Litig." on Justia Law