Justia Class Action Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Landlord - Tenant
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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court granting Plaintiffs' motion to certify three classes for a class action lawsuit, holding that the trial court did not abuse its discretion.Plaintiffs were former tenants of residential apartments owned and managed by Defendant. Plaintiffs brought a class action lawsuit alleging violations of the North Carolina Residential Rental Agreements Act and the North Carolina Debt Collection Act. Plaintiffs moved to certify three class of certain fellow tenants, and the trial court granted the motion as to all three classes. Defendant appealed, pointing to three alleged errors in the trial court's class certification order. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in certifying the three classes for a class action lawsuit. View "McMillan v. Blue Ridge Cos." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part the judgment of the district court dismissing Plaintiffs' request for class certification, holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion by holding that Plaintiffs' certification request did not meet the requirements of Mont. R. Civ. P. 23.Plaintiff lived in apartment complexes owned and operated by Defendants. Plaintiffs alleged that their leases contained multiple provisions violating Montana law. Plaintiffs sought certification as a class under Rule 23 to include other tenants who entered into similar lease agreements with Defendants. The district court dismissed most claims but denied the dismissal of two claims as to one plaintiff. The district court also denied Plaintiffs' request for class certification. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and remanded for further proceedings, holding that the district court did not err in dismissing Plaintiffs' request for class certification. View "Vulles v. Thies & Talle Management, Inc." on Justia Law

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In a fifth amended class action complaint, plaintiffs Kelly Peviani, Judy Rudolph, and Zachary Rudolph, on behalf of themselves and others similarly situated, sued defendants Arbors at California Oaks Property Owner, LLC and JRK Residential Group, Inc. Plaintiffs alleged “Defendants advertise with colorful brochures and promising language that the Property is a safe, habitable, and luxurious place to live, with numerous amenities including a playground, cabanas and lounges, tennis and basketball courts, a rock climbing wall, gym, and pools and heated spas. But the Property is nothing of the kind. Instead, the Property is littered with used condoms, drug use, broken security gates, violence, is devoid of security patrols, and police are called to the complex on a regular basis. The pools are dirty, and the fitness equipment is broken. The complex is unsafe for tenants, especially children, and does not deliver on its material promises.” The complaint included eight causes of action: (1) false advertising; (2) breach of the implied warranty of habitability; (3) nuisance; (4) breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing; (5) bad faith retention of security deposits; and (6) three causes of action for unfair competition. Plaintiffs moved for certification of two classes, but the trial court denied the motion. Plaintiffs contended on appeal the trial court erred by denying their class certification motion. In regard to the false advertising claim, the trial court denied class certification due to a lack of commonality that would, in turn, cause the class to be unmanageable. After review of the trial court record, the Court of Appeal determined the trial court's commonality finding was flawed, making its related conclusion pertaining to manageability unreliable. Judgment was reversed and the matter remanded for further proceedings. View "Peviani v. Arbors at California Oaks Property Owner" on Justia Law

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Brown, a tenant in low-income, rent-controlled housing owned and managed by Upside, filed suit on behalf of herself and other similarly situated persons, alleging violations of Hayward’s Residential Rent Stabilization and Tenant Protection Ordinance. According to Brown, Upside claimed an exemption to the ordinance based upon misleading information and thereafter imposed upon the often non-English-speaking tenants illegal rent increases, charged excessive late fees, and failed to pay required security deposit interest. Upside representatives approached the tenants individually with pre-written releases from the class action along with pre-written checks as “compensation.” The trial court invalidated those releases (signed by approximately 26 tenant putative class members) and required the parties to confer regarding a corrective notice for the putative class. The court found that the releases contained misleading and one-sided information regarding the underlying lawsuit. The court of appeal dismissed Upside’s appeal of the order as taken from a nonappealable order. The court rejected Upside’s argument that the order was appealable as an injunctive order within the meaning of Code of Civil Procedure section 904.1(a)(6) because it mandates certain actions on their part with respect to the putative class members. Section 904.1 provides no basis for appealing a standard interlocutory order. View "Brown v. Upside Gading, LP" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals affirmed the order of the Appellate Division modifying Supreme Court's dismissal of Plaintiffs' amended class action complaint by denying the part of the motion seeking dismissal of the class action claims against Defendants except to the extent those allegations addressed the cause of action for violation of N.Y. Gen. Bus. Law 349, holding that the claims for class relief should not have been dismissed without a judicial determination as to whether the prerequisites of N.Y. C.P.L.R. 902 had been satisfied.Plaintiffs, current and former tenants in buildings within multiple apartment buildings, alleged that individual corporate defendants that owned various buildings at issue were owned or controlled by a single holding company and that Defendants, in an effort to extract additional value from the properties, engaged in improper and illegal conduct" by, among other things, inflating rents above the amounts Defendant were legally permitted to charge. Before an answer was filed, Supreme Court dismissed the complaint, concluding that there was no basis for class relief. The Appellate Division modified Supreme Court's order, concluding that dismissal at this stage was premature. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that dismissal of class claims based on allegations of a methodical attempt to illegally inflate rents was premature. View "Maddicks v Big City Properties, LLC" on Justia Law

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Landlord brought this interlocutory appeal challenging a summary judgment in favor of Tenant and the district court’s order certifying a class of tenants. Tenant filed an action seeking a declaration that certain lease provisions violated the Iowa Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding (1) some, but not all, of the challenged lease provisions were prohibited under the Act; and (2) the certification of a class in this case was procedurally flawed. The court remanded the cause for the district court to make the findings required under Iowa R. Civ. P. 1.263(1). View "Walton v. Gaffey" on Justia Law

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After their leases expired, three tenants, on behalf of themselves and other similarly situated residential tenants, brought suit against their landlord. The district court granted summary judgment for the tenants, declaring that certain of the landlord's lease provisions violated the Iowa Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act. The court also certified a class of tenants. The landlord brought this interlocutory appeal. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding (1) some, but not all, of the challenged lease provisions were prohibited under the Act; and (2) the class certification was procedurally flawed in the absence of findings required under Iowa R. Civ. P. 1.263(1). The court remanded the cause for further proceedings. View "Kline v. Southgate Property Management, LLC" on Justia Law

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In these three putative class actions, Plaintiffs, current or former tenants of separate apartment buildings, sought damages for rent overcharges. All plaintiffs initially sought treble damages but then waived that demand. At issue was whether Plaintiffs’ claims could properly be brought as class actions. Defendants argued, among other things, that these actions were to “recover a penalty” because, even without trebling, the remedy provided by the Rent Stabilization Law (RSL) 26-516 is a penalty. In each case, the Appellate Division certified a question to the Court of Appeals. The Court answered (1) N.Y. C.P.L.R. 901(b), which prohibits any claim for penalties to be brought as a class action, permits otherwise qualified plaintiffs to utilize the class action mechanism to recover compensatory overcharges even though the RSL 26-516 does not specifically authorize class action recovery and imposes treble damages upon a finding of willful violation; and (2) maintaining these actions as class actions does not contravene the letter or the spirit of the C.P.L.R. or the RSL. View "Borden v. 400 E. 55th St. Assoc., L.P." on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed suit alleging that defendants had engaged in a conspiracy to fraudulently increase rents payable by tenants in over 400 buildings they owned in New York City, in violation of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), 18 U.S.C. 1961-1968, and the New York Consumer Protection Act (NYCPA), N.Y. Gen. Bus. Law 349(a). The parties subsequently agreed to a settlement. At issue on appeal was the fairness, adequacy, and reasonableness of the settlement. The court concluded that the district court's careful review of the settlement warranted the great deference the court normally accords to trial court findings with respect to the fairness of class action settlements. The court also concluded that a fundamental conflict did not exist between the members of the class, and that the Class Counsel's representation was adequate under Rule 12(a)(4). Therefore, it was not necessary to divide the class into subclasses with separate representation. To the extent that plaintiffs argued that the rejection of the settlement by all five remaining named class representatives requires its rejection, the court could not agree. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court. View "Charron v. Wiener" on Justia Law