Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit

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Speaks Plaintiffs filed a class action against the Cooperative, seeking a declaratory judgment, distribution of the reserve funds to members, and judicial dissolution of the Cooperative as an alternative form of relief. Speaks Plaintiffs argued that after Congress enacted the Fair and Equitable Tobacco Reform Act (FETRA) and the price-support program ended, the Cooperative's primary purpose ceased to exist, and it should be forced to distribute the reserve funds and be judicially dissolved. The parties eventually mediated the case and the district court certified the class, approving a settlement. In this appeal, Fisher-Lewis class members, and would-be intervenor Dan Lewis, objected to the Speaks settlement. The Fourth Circuit dismissed Lewis' appeal for lack of jurisdiction, holding that Lewis filed his appeal far beyond the 30-day deadline prescribed by statute. The court affirmed the district court's denial of the attempted group opt-out. However, the court could not agree with the district court that the objectors' interests were adequately protected or that the settlement was fair, reasonable, and adequate for the class. Accordingly, the court reversed the district court's order certifying the class and granting final approval of the class-action settlement, remanding for further proceedings. View "Speaks v. U.S. Tobacco Cooperative Inc." on Justia Law

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Optometrists across the country noticed that Chase Amazon Visa credit card accounts had been fraudulently opened in their names, using correct social security numbers and birthdates. The victims discussed the thefts in Facebook groups dedicated to optometrists and determined that the only common source to which they had given their personal information was NBEO, where every graduating optometry student submits personal information to sit for board-certifying exams. NBEO released a Facebook statement that its “information systems [had] NOT been compromised.” Two days later, NBEO stated that it had decided to further investigate. Three weeks later, NBEO posted “a cryptic message stating its internal review was still ongoing.” NBEO advised the victims to “remain vigilant in checking their credit.” Victims filed suit under the Class Action Fairness Act, 28 U.S.C. 1332(d)(2). The district court dismissed for lack of standing. The Fourth Circuit vacated. These plaintiffs allege that they have already suffered actual harm in the form of identity theft and credit card fraud; they have been concretely injured by the use or attempted use of their personal information to open credit card accounts without their knowledge or approval. There is no need to speculate on whether substantial harm will occur. The complaints contain allegations demonstrating that it is both plausible and likely that a breach of NBEO’s database resulted in the fraudulent use of the plaintiffs’ personal information. View "Hutton v. National Board of Examiners in Optometry, Inc." on Justia Law

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Optometrists across the country noticed that Chase Amazon Visa credit card accounts had been fraudulently opened in their names, using correct social security numbers and birthdates. The victims discussed the thefts in Facebook groups dedicated to optometrists and determined that the only common source to which they had given their personal information was NBEO, where every graduating optometry student submits personal information to sit for board-certifying exams. NBEO released a Facebook statement that its “information systems [had] NOT been compromised.” Two days later, NBEO stated that it had decided to further investigate. Three weeks later, NBEO posted “a cryptic message stating its internal review was still ongoing.” NBEO advised the victims to “remain vigilant in checking their credit.” Victims filed suit under the Class Action Fairness Act, 28 U.S.C. 1332(d)(2). The district court dismissed for lack of standing. The Fourth Circuit vacated. These plaintiffs allege that they have already suffered actual harm in the form of identity theft and credit card fraud; they have been concretely injured by the use or attempted use of their personal information to open credit card accounts without their knowledge or approval. There is no need to speculate on whether substantial harm will occur. The complaints contain allegations demonstrating that it is both plausible and likely that a breach of NBEO’s database resulted in the fraudulent use of the plaintiffs’ personal information. View "Hutton v. National Board of Examiners in Optometry, Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed a putative class action against Saber, alleging that defendants failed to deliver contractually promised care and failed to comply with certain state law requirements. After removal to federal court, the district court granted plaintiffs' motion to remand to state court based on the forum selection clause in plaintiffs' contracts. The Fourth Circuit vacated and remanded for further proceedings and factual development on the question of whether all of the defendants were bound by the forum selection clause contained in the contracts executed by plaintiffs. In this case, although the plain language of the forum selection clause precluded removal, a question remains as to whether all of the defendants were alter egos or otherwise bound by the clause. View "Bartels v. Saber Healthcare Group, LLC" on Justia Law

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Dart Cherokee Basin Operating Co., LLC v. Owens, 135 S. Ct. 547 (2014), did not undermine Palisades Collections LLC v. Shorts, 552 F.3d 327, 331 (4th Cir. 2008). In this case, Home Depot filed a Petition for Permission to Appeal the district court's order remanding to state court. The Fourth Circuit deferred ruling on the petition pending consideration of the merits of the appeal. The court held that the Supreme Court has not called into question Palisades's conclusion that an additional counter-defendant is not entitled to remove under 28 U.S.C. 1441(a) or 1453(b), nor has it abandoned Shamrock Oil’s definition of "defendant" in the class action context. See Shamrock Oil & Gas Corp. v. Sheets, 313 U.S. 100, 108 (1941). The court held that Palisades applied to Home Depot. The court also held that the district court properly declined to realign the parties and correctly remanded to state court. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. . View "Jackson v. Home Depot U.S.A., Inc." on Justia Law

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After Cricket removed this class action from state court by invoking Class Action Fairness Act (CAFA), 28 U.S.C. 1332(d), jurisdiction, the district court granted plaintiff's motion to remand. The court vacated and remanded, holding that the district court applied the wrong legal standard to Cricket's evidence. The court explained that, because the district court committed legal error in disregarding Cricket's evidence as overinclusive, the court was unable to engage in appellate review to determine whether Cricket met its burden to prove jurisdiction. View "Scott v. Cricket Communications, LLC" on Justia Law

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A California nonprofit mutual benefit corporation, Abella, sought relief from the enforcement of a final class action judgment against MI Windows entered in this multidistrict litigation. The district court rejected Abella's arguments that the district court lacked authority to enjoin its prosecution of the state action against MI Windows and that Abella should not be bound by the class action judgment because of the excusable neglect of its counsel in overlooking the opt-out deadline. The Fourth Circuit affirmed and held that the district court's injunction was justified by the "relitigation exception" of the Anti-Injunction Act, 28 U.S.C. 2283, and that the district court did not abuse its discretion in concluding that the neglect of Abella's counsel was not excusable. View "Abella Owners’ Ass'n v. MI Windows & Doors, Inc." on Justia Law