Articles Posted in U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit

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Plaintiffs filed a class action in state court alleging that Progressive sold insurance policies with benefits below the statutory minimum required by Minnesota state law. On appeal, plaintiffs challenged the district court's denial of plaintiffs' motion to remand to state court after Progressive removed to federal court. The Eighth Circuit concluded that the district court properly denied the motion for remand because plaintiffs failed to establish the amount they collectively paid in premiums, and without such information, the court could not determine whether it would be legally impossible for them to recover $5,000,000. The Eighth Circuit also concluded that the district court properly dismissed plaintiffs' claim on the ground that the deductible practice challenged by plaintiffs did not violate Minnesota's No Fault Act. Accordingly, the Eighth Circuit affirmed the judgment. View "Dammann v. Progressive Direct Insurance" on Justia Law

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The court affirmed the approval of a class action settlement and grant of attorneys' fees and service awards in a suit alleging that Symantec failed to disclose that consumers could use various free alternatives to re-download their Norton anti-virus software. The district court did not abuse its discretion by approving the settlement without knowing the final administrative costs or the final amount received by the class; in awarding the requested fees where the circumstances of this case justified a large award, and the reasonableness of the award was cross-checked against the lodestar method; in approving the terms of the settlement agreement providing that any minimal remaining funds would be distributed to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, as an appropriate cy pres recipient; and in awarding service awards to each of the named plaintiffs. View "Caligiuri v. Symantec Corp." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against defendants in state court on behalf of a class comprising of all persons who were Arkansas Medicaid-eligible beneficiaries who were treated at one of the defendant hospitals and who had similar liens placed on their third-party claims by RevClaims. Defendants removed to federal court under the Class Action Fairness Act (CAFA), 28 U.S.C. 1332(d). After plaintiff filed an amended complaint defining the proposed class as all Arkansas citizens who were Arkansas Medicaid-eligible beneficiaries, the case was remanded to state court. The court concluded that section 1332(a)'s citizenship/residency distinction applies in section 1332(d)(4). "Citizen" means the same in both subsections—and that meaning is not synonymous with "resident." Therefore, the court concluded that the district court erred in holding that merely alleging a proposed class of Arkansas residents was sufficient to satisfy section 1334(d)(4). In this case, plaintiff could have met her burden by producing evidence or by defining her class to include only Arkansas citizens, merely alleging residency was not enough. The court noted that the district court cited no authority for ordering plaintiff to restrict her class definition through an amended complaint before remand. Finally, the court explained that nothing the court said about residency and citizenship means that the district court lacked jurisdiction. The court reversed the remand order and remanded for further proceedings. View "Hargett v. RevClaims, LLC" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs, a class of landowners subject to Sho-Me's easements, filed suit against Sho-Me and Tech for trespass and unjust enrichment after the companies used fiber-optic cable for commercial telecommunications. The district court certified the class and granted it summary judgment on liability. A jury trial was held on the issue of damages and the jury awarded plaintiffs over $79 million. The court concluded that Sho-Me and Tech's use exceeded the scope of the easements. The court explained that, under Missouri law, the companies exceeded their rights by using the fiber-optic cable for unauthorized purposes and thus their use became a trespass. The court also concluded that plaintiffs failed to identify any Missouri cases recognizing unjust enrichment as a remedy for unauthorized land use. Therefore, the court reversed the district court's grant of summary judgment on the unjust enrichment claim. The court noted that, on remand, plaintiffs may choose to pursue damages on their trespass claim. Finally, the court concluded that the district court did not abuse its discretion in certifying the class. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part, reversed in part, vacated in part, and remanded for further proceedings. View "Biffle v. Sho-Me Power Electric Cooperative" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs, retail grocers, filed putative class actions against two large full-line wholesale grocers, alleging that the wholesalers' contract to exchange retailer supply agreements constituted market allocation in violation of the Sherman Act, 15 U.S.C. 1. Plaintiffs formed the Midwest Class and the New England Class, each class having an Arbitration Subclass of retailers who had arbitration agreements with their current (post-swap) wholesaler. The district court dismissed the purported representatives of the Arbitration Subclasses and the court reversed. At that point, the district court had rejected the proposed Midwest and New England classes and granted defendants' motion for summary judgment. The court reversed, ordering the district court to consider a narrower Midwest class. On remand, Colella moved to intervene to join Village Market, the New England Arbitration Subclass representative, in seeking to certify a narrower New England class. The district court denied the motion and announced that it would not consider any new class of New England plaintiffs. The court concluded that it does not have discretion to hear Village Market's appeal under Rule 23(f). The court explained that an order that leaves class-action status unchanged from what was determined by a prior order was not an order granting or denying class action certification. The court also concluded that the district court did not abuse its discretion by denying Colella's motion to intervene as time-barred. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Colella's Super Market, Inc. v. SuperValu, Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs, retail grocers, filed putative class actions against two large full-line wholesale grocers, alleging that the wholesalers' contract to exchange retailer supply agreements constituted market allocation in violation of the Sherman Act, 15 U.S.C. 1. Plaintiffs formed the Midwest Class and the New England Class, each class having an Arbitration Subclass of retailers who had arbitration agreements with their current (post-swap) wholesaler. Each Arbitration Subclass filed suit against only its previous wholesaler, with which it no longer had a current arbitration agreement. The district court dismissed the Arbitration Subclasses from the case. On remand, the district court rejected the wholesalers' alternate successors-in-interest theory and the wholesaler's third alternate theory that they could directly enforce their previous arbitration agreements because some of the conduct at issue occurred when the previous agreements were still in effect. The court concluded that the district court did not err by rejecting the successors-in-interest theory where the court was not aware of any authority supporting the proposition that a predecessor-in-interest bears a sufficiently close relationship to a successor-in-interest such that the predecessor-in-interest can compel arbitration under an agreement to which only the successor-in-interest is a signatory. The court rejected the direct enforcement argument, concluding that wholesalers may not directly enforce the arbitration agreements to which they are no longer signatories. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Millennium Operations v. SuperValu" on Justia Law

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This class action against Wells Fargo involved claims related to the bank's practice of automatically ordering and charging fees for property inspections when customers fell behind on their mortgage payments. On appeal, objectors challenged the district court's award of attorneys' fees in the amount of one-third of the total settlement fund in the class action settlement. The court concluded that the district court did not abuse its discretion by basing its fee award on the total settlement fund, which included administrative costs. The court also concluded that the district court did not abuse its discretion in approving the total amount of attorneys' fees and the amount was reasonable because the district court did not err in concluding that the circumstances of this case justified a large award; under the percentage-of-the-benefit method, the award was in line with other awards in the Eighth Circuit; and the district court verified the reasonableness of its award by cross-checking it against the lodestar method. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Huyer v. Buckley" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed a class action against TMBC, challenging TMBC's nationwide practice of charging a document fee when selling boats and trailers under form contracts governed by Missouri law. The district court approved class certification and then granted summary judgment to the class, awarding treble damages and attorney fees. The district court determined that TMBC prepared legal documents attendant to its sales and that charging a fee for those documents constituted unauthorized law business in violation of Mo. Rev. Stat. 484.010 and 484.020. Both parties appealed. The court concluded that the district court did not abuse its discretion in finding that the class as ultimately defined met the requirements of Rule 23 and certifying the case as a class action; the district court did not err in granting the class members' motion for summary judgment or in calculating damages based upon the entire document fee; and the district court did not err in applying Missouri law to sales that occurred outside Missouri. Accordingly, the court affirmed as to these issues. The court then addressed plaintiffs' contention that the district court erred when it held that the attorneys’ fees should be paid from the common fund rather than paid by TMBC pursuant to the contractual fee-shifting provision, concluding that enforcement of the fee-shifting provision honors both the contract and the principles underlying the common fund doctrine. Therefore, the court reversed and remanded for further proceedings as to the award. The court noted that if the district court, on remand, should determine that counsel for the class is entitled to additional fees from the common fund, apart from those reasonable expenses covered by the fee-shifting provision, it is not prohibited from awarding additional fees. View "McKeage v. TMBC, LLC" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed a class action against Wells Fargo in 2008, alleging claims related to Wells Fargo's practice of automatically ordering and charging fees for property inspections when customers fell behind on their mortgage payments. The parties reached a settlement agreement in 2015, providing that Wells Fargo will pay $25,750,000 in full settlement to all class claims. On appeal, movant challenged the district court's order approving the settlement, which required one subgroup of class members to submit proofs of claim before receiving payment. The court dismissed the appeal for lack of standing because movant is not a member of this subgroup and suffered no injury from this requirement. In this case, movant would not benefit from the changes she seeks. View "Huyer v. Van de Voorde" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed a class action against Wells Fargo, alleging claims related to Wells Fargo's practice of automatically ordering and charging fees for drive-by property inspections when customers fell behind on their mortgage payments. In this appeal, movant challenges the district court's orders denying his motion to join a trespass claim to the class action and approving the class action settlement. The court concluded that the district court properly denied movant's motion because the trespass claim does not share common questions of law or fact to the class. The court also concluded that, because two of the Van Horn factors weighed in favor of approving the settlement and two were neutral, the settlement agreement was fair and reasonable. Therefore, the district court did not abuse its discretion in reaching this conclusion. The court rejected movant's remaining claims and affirmed the judgment. View "Njema v. Wells Fargo Bank" on Justia Law