Justia Class Action Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals
Ackal, et al v. Centennial Beauregard Cellular, et al
This case involved an interlocutory appeal from an order granting plaintiffs' motion for class certification where the certified class putatively consisted of various governmental entities within the State of Louisiana whose representatives entered into contracts with defendants for cellular telephone service. Plaintiffs alleged that defendants engaged in deceptive billing practices that constituted a breach of contract and violated the state's unfair trade and consumer protection laws. The court agreed with defendants that the district court abused its discretion when it certified plaintiffs' class because, in doing so, it effectively certified an "opt in" class, which was impermissible under Rule 23. Accordingly, the court reversed and vacated, remanding for further proceedings. View "Ackal, et al v. Centennial Beauregard Cellular, et al" on Justia Law
Rodriguez, et al v. Countrywide Home Loans, Inc.
Countrywide appealed a class certification order of the bankruptcy court. Plaintiffs are former chapter 13 debtors with mortgages serviced by Countrywide. Plaintiffs claimed, among other things, that the fees Countrywide charged while plaintiffs' bankruptcy cases were still pending were unreasonable, unapproved, and undisclosed under Federal Rule of Bankruptcy Procedure 2016(a). Because the bankruptcy court's decision was not an abuse of discretion, the court affirmed its grant of class certification for plaintiff's injunctive relief claim. Because the court's precedence rejected the fail-safe class prohibition, the court concluded that the bankruptcy court did not abuse its discretion when it defined the class in the present case. Because the court concluded that Countrywide's Rule 59(e) motion for reconsideration was not based on newly discovered evidence, the court did not revisit the bankruptcy court's separate merits denial of the motion. View "Rodriguez, et al v. Countrywide Home Loans, Inc." on Justia Law
Funeral Consumers Alliance Inc, et al v. Service Corp. Intl, et al
Plaintiffs brought a class action suit under section 4 of the Clayton Act, 15 U.S.C. 15, against the largest United States casket manufacturer, Batesville; and against the three largest United States funeral home chains and distributors of Batesville caskets. Plaintiffs alleged that defendants conspired to foreclose competition from independent casket discounters (ICDs) who sold caskets directly to consumers at discount prices and maintained artificially high consumer casket prices in violation of sections 1 and 2 of the Sherman Act, 15 U.S.C. 1, 2, by engaging in a group boycott to prevent ICDs from selling Batesville caskets and dissuading consumers from purchasing caskets from ICDs. Plaintiffs also alleged that defendants used concerted efforts to restrict casket price competition, including coordinating prices, limiting the advertisement of pricing, and engaging in sham discounting. The court reversed and remanded the district court's dismissal for lack of subject matter jurisdiction of the claim for attorneys' fees and costs; affirmed the district court's dismissal of Consumer Appellants' and FCA's injunctive relief claims for lack of subject matter jurisdiction; and affirmed the district court's denial of class certification. View "Funeral Consumers Alliance Inc, et al v. Service Corp. Intl, et al" on Justia Law
Ahmad v. Old Republic Nat’l Title Ins. Co.
This was an interlocutory appeal from the district court's grant of class certification in a case involving allegations that the defendant title insurance company charged premiums for title policies that exceeded the refinance rates set by the Texas Department of Insurance in Tex. Ins. Code Rate Rule R-8. The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the district court's grant of class certification and remanded for further proceedings, holding that the district court abused its discretion in finding that the requirements of Fed. R. Civ. P. 23(a)(2) were satisfied, as none of the four questions identified by the district court was actually common to the class and common questions would not predominate at trial. View "Ahmad v. Old Republic Nat'l Title Ins. Co." 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
M.D., et al. v. Rick Perry, et al.
Plaintiffs, nine children in the custody of PMC, filed suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983 against three Texas officials, in their official capacities, seeking to represent a class of all children who were now, and all those who will be, in the State's long-term foster care. The gravaman of plaintiffs' complaint is that various system-wide problems in Texas's administration of its PMC subjected all of the children in PMC to a variety of harms. Applying the standards announced in the Supreme Court's recent opinion, Wal-mart Stores, Inc. v. Dukes, the court held that the district court failed to conduct the "rigorous" analysis required by Rule 23 in deciding to certify the proposed class. The court also held that the district court abused its discretion by certifying a class that lacked cohesiveness under Rule 23(b)(2). Accordingly, the court vacated the district court's class certification order and remanded for further proceedings. View "M.D., et al. v. Rick Perry, et al." on Justia Law
Roland, et al. v. Green, et al.; Troice, et al. v. Proskauer Rose, LLP, et al.; Troice, et al. v. Willis of Colorado Inc., et al.
This consolidated appeal arose out of an alleged multi-billion dollar Ponzi scheme perpetrated by R. Allen Stanford through his various corporate entities. These three cases dealt with the scope of the preclusion provision of the Securities Litigation Uniform Standards Act (SLUSA), 15 U.S.C. 78bb(f)(1)(A). All three cases sought to use state class-action devices to attempt to recover damages for losses resulting from the Ponzi scheme. Because the court found that the purchase or sale of securities (or representations about the purchase or sale of securities), was only tangentially related to the fraudulent scheme alleged by appellants, the court held that SLUSA did not preclude appellants from using state class actions to pursue their recovery and reversed the judgment. View "Roland, et al. v. Green, et al.; Troice, et al. v. Proskauer Rose, LLP, et al.; Troice, et al. v. Willis of Colorado Inc., et al." on Justia Law
In Re: Dell Inc, et al.
Plaintiffs, and other owners of Dell Inc. common stock, alleged that defendants violated the securities laws between by fraudulently inflating reported revenues, engaging in erroneous accounting, and disseminating false information to the public. The district court granted defendant's motion to dismiss with prejudice and plaintiffs appealed. While the appeal was pending, plaintiffs moved in the district court for class certification and approval of a proposed settlement agreement. The district court certified a class and approved the class-action settlement. Two groups of objectors to the settlement subsequently appealed, claiming numerous deficiencies in the proceedings. The court held that appellants have demonstrated their membership in a class and have standing to bring their objections; the district court did not abuse its discretion when it systematically analyzed the proposed settlement under each of the Reed factors and found that none counseled against approving the settlement; the district court did not abuse its discretion in certifying the class as defined; the district court did not abuse its discretion in approving the settlement's claims-making process; the district court did not abuse its discretion in approving the elimination of the de minimus provision in the original plan of allocation; the district court's decision not to reissue notice or reopen the filing period was not an abuse of discretion; objectors presented no reason to conclude that the judgment was an abuse of discretion; and there was no basis for concluding that the district court abused its discretion in setting the amount of attorney's fees and in awarding interest in the fee award. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court. View "In Re: Dell Inc, et al." on Justia Law
Carey v. 24 Hour Fitness USA, Inc.
In 2005, during plaintiff's employment, defendant issued an employee handbook, including a provision that all employment-related disputes, whether initiated by an employee or by defendant, would be "resolved only by an arbitrator through final and binding arbitration," that disputes under the Fair Labor Standards Act were among those subject to the arbitration policy, that disputes cannot be brought as class actions or in representative capacities, and that the Federal Arbitration Act was its governing authority. Plaintiff signed a receipt that reiterated the arbitration policy. After his employment ended, plaintiff filed a class action, alleging violation of the FLSA by failing to adequately compensate him and other similarly-situated employees for overtime work. The district court denied a motion to stay proceedings and compel arbitration, finding that the provision was illusory because the employer retained the right to terminate or modify the provision at any time. The Fifth Circuit affirmed, noting that under the provision the company could make amendments almost instantaneously. View "Carey v. 24 Hour Fitness USA, Inc." on Justia Law
Brown, et al. v. Offshore Specialty Fabricators, et al.
This appeal involved a putative class action brought against several oil and gas companies and several companies that provide labor for offshore oil and gas projects. Plaintiffs alleged that defendants maintained a hiring scheme to employ foreign workers on the Outer Continental Shelf in violation of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), 18 U.S.C. 1961-1968, and the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA), 43 U.S.C. 1331 et seq. The district court disposed of all plaintiffs' claims and then entered final judgment dismissing all claims. The court held that the Service Defendants did not violate RICO because the law that would make their conduct racketeering activity did not apply in the place where that conduct occurred, namely vessels floating on the waters of the Outer Continental Shelf. The court rejected plaintiffs' contention that the exemptions the Service Defendants possessed to the OCSLA manning requirements did not shield them from RICO liability because those exemptions were fraudulently obtained. The court also held that plaintiffs could not state a claim for a private right of action for damages under the OCSLA and the district court's dismissal was proper. The court further held that the district court did not err in disposing plaintiffs' OCSLA enforcement claim. Accordingly, the judgment of the district court was affirmed. View "Brown, et al. v. Offshore Specialty Fabricators, et al." on Justia Law