Articles Posted in Supreme Court of California

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A class action employment lawsuit filed against a staffing firm and related companies settled for $19 million. Under the settlement agreement it was agreed that class counsel would request attorney fees of not more than one-third of the gross settlement amount. In seeking the trial court’s approval of the settlement, class counsel sought the maximum fee amount. One class member objected to the proposed settlement, arguing that the projected attorney fee was excessive and class counsel had not provided enough information to evaluate it. The trial court approved the settlement and awarded counsel the requested fee. The Court of Appeal affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) a trial court is permitted to calculate an attorney fee award from a class action common fund as a percentage of the fund, and the trial court did not abuse its discretion using the percentage of fund method to approve the fee request in this class action; and (2) trial courts have discretion to conduct a lodestar cross-check on a percentage fee, as the court did in this case. View "Laffitte v. Robert Half Int’l, Inc." on Justia Law

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When Plaintiff was hired by Defendants, he signed multiple arbitration agreements as a condition of employment. Plaintiff later sued Defendant, alleging racial discrimination, harassment, and retaliation. The complaint sought to bring claims on behalf of a “class of current and former employees of color.” Defendants filed a motion to compel individual arbitration based on the arbitration agreements. The trial court granted the motion but struck the class allegations, concluding that the agreements did not permit class arbitration. The court of appeal reversed in part, ruling (1) the trial court erred in concluding that existing precedent compelled the court to determine whether class arbitration was available; and (2) the availability of class proceedings under an arbitration agreement is for an arbitrator to decide in the first instance. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) there is no universal rule allocating the decision of whether an arbitration agreement permits or prohibits classwide arbitration to a court or an arbitrator, but rather, who decides is in the first instance a matter of agreement with the parties’ agreement subject to interpretation under state contract law; and (2) under state law, the arbitration agreement in this case allocates the decision to the arbitrator. View "Sandquist v. Lebo Automotive, Inc." on Justia Law