Justia Class Action Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit
Thut v. Life Time Fitness, Inc.
This appeal stems from a class action settlement where Life Time agreed to pay $10-15 million to settle claims that the company violated the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), 47 U.S.C. 227. Objector challenges the district court's order awarding class counsel $2.8 million in attorney's fees and expenses. The court concluded that the district court's analysis was thorough, its findings were amply supported, and it did not abuse its significant discretion by electing to use the percentage-of-the-benefit method to calculate the fee award or by determining that an award of $2.8 million in attorney’s fees and expenses was reasonable. Furthermore, the district court did not abuse its discretion by including approximately $750,000 in fund administration costs as part of the "benefit" when calculating the percentage-of-the-benefit fee amount; nor did the district court abuse its discretion by allowing class counsel themselves to determine how to allocate the total $2.8 million attorney's fee award without further judicial oversight or approval. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Thut v. Life Time Fitness, Inc." on Justia Law
Sciaroni v. Target Corp.
These consolidated appeals stem from a class action suit against Target after the retailer announced a security breach by third-party intruders that compromised the payment card data and personal information of millions of customers. Class member Leif Olson challenges the class certification for lack of adequate representation due to an alleged intraclass conflict; class member Jim Sciaroni challenges the district court’s approval of the settlement agreement; and both challenge the district court’s order requiring them to post a bond of $49,156 to cover the costs of this appeal. The court held that the district court abused its discretion by failing to rigorously analyze the propriety of certification, especially once new arguments challenging the adequacy of representation were raised after preliminary certification. Therefore, the court remanded for the district court to conduct and articulate a rigorous analysis of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(a)'s certification prerequisites as applied to this case. The court also concluded that costs associated with delays in administering a class action settlement for the length of a class member’s appeal may not be included in an appeal bond under Federal Rule of Appellate Procedure 7. Therefore, the court reversed and remanded for the district court to reduce the Rule 7 bond to reflect only those costs that Appellees will recover should they succeed in any issues remaining on appeal following the district court’s reconsideration of class certification. View "Sciaroni v. Target Corp." on Justia Law
Williams v. Employers Mutual Casualty Co.
In the Original Action, Michelle Pratt filed a class action on behalf of residents of Autumn Hills against Collier and two other entities, alleging that two wells supplied by Autumn Hills contained contaminated water. Barbara Williams was later substituted as a class representative. The state court awarded plaintiffs $70,085,000 for medical monitoring, and $11,952,000 for the loss in value to their homes. Williams then filed an equitable garnishment action in state court against the Insurers and Collier pursuant to Missouri Revised Statute 379.200. The district court ultimately entered a consent judgment in favor of Collier. The court concluded that the consent judgment was a final judgment and the court had jurisdiction over the appeal of the consent judgment; Williams has not waived her right to appeal the consent judgment where Williams' consent to entry of judgment against her represented consent to the form, rather than the substance, of the judgment; and the judgment on the pleadings was not a final order, and thus Williams did not file her notice of appeal out of time. The court also concluded that because Williams brought this action on behalf of a class previously certified under a state-law analogue to Rule 23, the action was necessarily “filed under” Rule 23 or a state-law analogue, even though the complaint omits explicit reference to such a rule. Therefore, the district court had jurisdiction under the Class Action Fairness Act (CAFA), 28 U.S.C. 1332(d). Finally, the court concluded that the district court did not err in granting judgment on the pleadings to the Insurer because the Insurers had no duty to defend or indemnify Collier for the claims asserted in the Original Action. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Williams v. Employers Mutual Casualty Co." on Justia Law
Gibson v. Clean Harbors Environmental
Respondents filed a class action complaint against Clean Harbors, alleging state tort claims related to a chemical release of hazardous waste storage and treatment facility operated by Clean Harbors. The district court granted respondents' motion to remand their putative class action complaint to state court. The court held that, in the Class Action Fairness Act (CAFA), 28 U.S.C. 1446(b)(3), context, the thirty-day removal period set forth in section 1446(b)(3) does not begin to run until the defendant receives from the plaintiff an amended pleading, motion, order, or other paper “from which the defendant can unambiguously ascertain” that the CAFA jurisdictional requirements have been satisfied. In this case, the court concluded that Clean Harbors's removal was timely; the settlement letter did not provide the necessary detail and clarity from which Clean Harbors could unambiguously ascertain that CAFA’s class-size and amount-in-controversy jurisdictional requirements had been satisfied and that the case had become removable, and thus it did not constitute “other paper” sufficient to trigger section 1446(b)(3)’s thirty-day removal period; and respondents’ expert report constituted “other paper” from which Clean Harbors could first unambiguously ascertain that CAFA’s jurisdictional requirements had been satisfied such that section 1446(b)(3)’s thirty-day removal period was triggered. Therefore, section 1446(b)(3)’s thirty-day removal period began to run only upon Clean Harbors’s receipt of the report, rendering Clean Harbors’s May 9, 2016, notice of removal timely. The court granted the petition for permission to appeal and remanded for further proceedings. View "Gibson v. Clean Harbors Environmental" on Justia Law
Galloway v. The Kansas City Landsmen, LLC
Plaintiffs filed suit alleging that 21 Budget rental car businesses willfully violated the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACTA), 15 U.S.C. 1681c(g)(1), by issuing receipts that contained more than five digits of customers’ credit card numbers. The parties subsequently mediated and agreed on a proposed settlement. The settlement provided that each class member would receive a certificate worth $10 off any car rental or $30 off a rental over $150, with no holiday blackout days. Applying the Class Action Fairness Act (CAFA), 28 U.S.C. 1712(a)-(c), the district court awarded $23,137.46 in attorneys’ fees and costs, and a $1,000 class representative incentive fee. Plaintiffs appealed. The court concluded that the district court erred by following the In re HP Inkjet Printer Litig. mandatory approach in applying section 1712(a)-(c) without explicitly stating that the award was based on an exercise of the district court’s discretion to determine a reasonable attorney’s fee. But plaintiffs do not argue the award was a breach of the district court’s discretion, and if the court remanded, it would be for an explicit exercise of that discretion, applying the principles of section 1712(a)-(c). The court determined that any award greater than $17,438.45 would be unreasonable in light of class counsel’s limited success in obtaining value for the class. Accordingly, the court concluded that any error was harmless and affirmed the judgment. View "Galloway v. The Kansas City Landsmen, LLC" on Justia Law
Day v. Celadon Trucking Servs.
Plaintiffs, a class of former employees of Continental, filed suit against Celadon, alleging that Celadon violated the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act, 29 U.S.C. 2102. The district court certified the class, granted partial summary judgment to the employees, and awarded damages. Viewing the Celadon–Continental transaction in light of a common-sense approach, the court agreed with the district court that the transaction was more than merely a sale of assets. Consequently, responsibility to provide notice passed from Continental to Celadon under the WARN Act where plaintiffs became employees of Celadon. The court also concluded that the district court did not abuse its discretion in requiring Celadon to bear the burden of establishing that certain members of the certified class should be excluded; the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying Celadon's motion to decertify the class; and the district court did not err in not adopting the magistrate judge's report and recommendation regarding class membership. In regard to the issue of damages, the court concluded that the district court did not abuse its discretion by shifting the burden to Celadon after the employees made their initial showing. After thoroughly reviewing the evidentiary rulings of the district court in light of the burden-shifting framework it employed, the court held that the district court did not commit a clear and prejudicial abuse of discretion. Finally, the district court did not abuse its discretion in refusing to reduce Celadon's liability. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Day v. Celadon Trucking Servs." on Justia Law
Ebert v. General Mills, Inc.
Plaintiffs, all owners of residential properties, filed suit against General Mills alleging that General Mills caused the chemical substance trichloroethylene (TCE) to be released onto the ground and into the environment. Plaintiffs claim that as a result of this contamination, TCE vapors migrated into the surrounding residential area, threatening the health of the residents and diminishing the value of their property. The district court certified a proposed class under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23. The court concluded, however, that individual issues predominate the analysis of causation and damages that must be litigated to resolve plaintiffs' claims. Therefore, the court determined that this matter is unsuitable for class certification under Rule 23(b)(3) and the district court abused its discretion in certifying the class. Because the class lacks the requisite commonality and cohesiveness to satisfy Rule 23, the court reversed the certification order and remanded. View "Ebert v. General Mills, Inc." on Justia Law
Sandusky Wellness Center, LLC v. Medtox Scientific, Inc.
After Sandusky received an unsolicited fax from MedTox, Sandusky filed a class action under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), 47 U.S.C. 227. The district court denied class certification, finding the class not ascertainable. Sandusky’s class definition includes: “All persons who (1) on or after four years prior to the filing of this action, (2) were sent telephone facsimile messages regarding lead testing services by or on behalf of Medtox, and (3) which did not display a proper opt out notice.” The court concluded that the district court abused its discretion in denying class certification because the proposed class is clearly ascertainable. The court also concluded that the district court abused its discretion in holding that the class here does not meet the commonality and predominance requirements. Accordingly, the court reversed and remanded. View "Sandusky Wellness Center, LLC v. Medtox Scientific, Inc." on Justia Law
IBEW Local 98 Pension Fund v. Best Buy Co., Inc.
Plaintiffs filed suit against Best Buy and three of its executives, alleging violation of section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, 15 U.S.C. 78j(b), and Securities and Exchange Commission Rule 10b-5, 17 C.F.R. 240.10b-5. Plaintiffs alleged that defendants made fraudulent or recklessly misleading public statements in a press release and conference call, which artificially inflated and maintained Best Buy's publicly traded stock price until the misstatements were disclosed. In this interlocutory appeal, defendants challenged the district court's certification of the class. In Halliburton Co. v. Erica P. John Fund, Inc. (Halliburton II), the Supreme Court concluded that loss causation has no logical connection to the facts necessary to establish the efficient market predicate to Basic, Inc. v. Levinson's fraud-on-the-market theory. The court agreed with the district court that, when plaintiffs presented a prima facie case that the Basic presumption applies to their claims, defendants had the burden to come forward with evidence showing a lack of price impact. However, what the district court ignored is that defendants did present strong evidence on this issue. Defendants rebutted the Basic presumption by submitting direct evidence (the opinions of both parties’ experts) that severed any link between the alleged conference call misrepresentations and the stock price at which plaintiffs purchased. Because plaintiffs presented no contrary evidence of price impact, they failed to satisfy the predominance requirement of Rule 23(b)(3). Therefore, the district court abused its discretion in certifying the class, and the court reversed and remanded. View "IBEW Local 98 Pension Fund v. Best Buy Co., Inc." on Justia Law