Justia Class Action Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
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The appeal was brought in the name of purported clients of the law firms of Gallo LLP and Wynne Law Firm (“Gallo/Wynne”). Gallo/Wynne originally sought to represent a putative class of Walgreen’s store managers in the San Francisco Superior Court in a wage and hour action (the Morales action). A different group of attorneys from the firms of Miller Shah LLP and Edgar Law Firm LLC (“Miller/Edgar”) filed a substantially similar wage and hour action on behalf of Walgreen’s store managers in the Eastern District of California (the Caves action). Gallo/Wynne sought to encourage putative class members in the Caves action to instead join a separate “mass action” to be filed by Gallo/Wynne as Gallo/Wynne clients.The district court issued an order granting Miller/Edgar’s ex parte application for Corrective Notice to the allegedly misleading Letter and invalidated all Gallo/Wynne procured opt-outs from the Caves action. The district court issued a second order granting Walgreen’s motion to modify the scope of the Corrective Notice to be sent to all Gallo/Wynne procured Caves opt-outs. Appellants are purported clients of Gallo/Wynne, and they appealed these two orders.The Ninth Circuit dismissed the appeal for lack of jurisdiction and denied Appellants’ request for mandamus relief. The panel held that the two orders were amenable to review after final judgment, and this placed them outside of the third collateral order requirement: effective unreviewability. The panel held that the dispositive third factor–that the district court order is clearly erroneous as a matter of law– was not met here. View "RAQUEL AGUILAR, ET AL V. WALGREEN CO." on Justia Law

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In a putative class action, Plaintiffs alleged that Defendants violated the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and the Fourteenth Amendment, and they sought declaratory and injunctive relief. The Ninth Circuit affirmed in part and vacated in part the district court’s dismissal of claims brought by a group of students and parents who alleged that every school district in California failed to adequately accommodate special needs students after California public schools transitioned to remote instruction in March 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.   The panel held that Plaintiffs lacked standing to sue school districts in which they were not enrolled and the State Special Schools, which they did not attend because they did not allege that those Defendants injured them personally. The panel held that even if the “juridical link” doctrine, provides an exception to the rule that a named plaintiff who has not been harmed by a defendant is generally an inadequate and atypical class representative for purposes of Fed. R. Civ. P. 23, ever applies outside of the Rule 23 context, it would not apply here.   The panel held that the California public schools’ return to in-person instruction mooted Plaintiffs’ claims against the California Department of Education and the State Superintendent of Public Education, as well as their claims against other defendants seeking injunctions requiring a return to in-person instruction or reassessment and services until students return to in-person instruction. The panel vacated the district court’s judgment dismissing on the merits the claims that Plaintiffs lacked standing to bring and remanded with instruction to dismiss those claims for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction. View "DANIELLE MARTINEZ V. GAVIN NEWSOM" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs appealed the district court’s dismissal of their claims against Rio Properties, LLC (“Rio”), which owns and operates the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada. During this time, Plaintiffs claim Defendant knew that its water system was infected with Legionella bacteria, which causes Legionnaires’ Disease. After learning of the contamination, Plaintiffs brought a putative class action against Defendant. They sought the return of the resort fee on the theory that they would not have gone to the hotel, and would not have paid the resort fee if Defendant had told them about the presence of the Legionella.   In a prior decision, the Ninth Circuit affirmed the dismissal of Plaintiffs’ claims for negligence, “declaratory relief,” violation of Nevada Revised Statutes (“NRS”) Section 205.377(1), and consumer fraud, and reversed the dismissal of Plaintiffs’ unjust enrichment claim. However, the court reserved judgment on Plaintiffs’ claims for fraudulent concealment and statutory consumer fraud, based on NRS Section 598.0923(2), because a controlling question of state law existed.   In response to a certified question, the Nevada State Supreme Court answered “that a plaintiff who receives the true value of the goods or services purchased has not suffered damages under theories of common-law fraudulent concealment or N.R.S. 41.600.”  Thus, the Ninth Circuit affirmed, finding that applying Nevada state law as declared by the Nevada State Supreme Court, Plaintiffs failed to allege recoverable damages as to their fraudulent concealment and consumer fraud claims. View "AARON LEIGH-PINK V. RIO PROPERTIES, LLC" on Justia Law

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Google sent an email to users, such as Plaintiff, who had contributed photos to Google maps but had not yet joined the company’s Local Guides Program, inviting them to join the program. Plaintiff joined the Local Guides program and claimed his terabyte of free Google Drive storage. Google advised him the benefit was for two years, and Plaintiff contended that when he read the initial email, he assumed Google was offering a lifetime benefit. In ruling on Google’s summary judgment motion, the district court considered three documents – the photo impact email, the enrollment page, and the Program Rules - and concluded that they did not constitute a unilateral contract offer for one terabyte of free Google Drive storage for life.   The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court’s summary judgment. The court explained that advertisements are not typically understood as offers, but that rule includes an exception for offers of a reward. The operative question under California law is “whether the advertiser, in clear and positive terms, promised to render performance in exchange for something requested by the advertiser, and whether the recipient of the advertisement reasonably might have concluded that by acting in accordance with the request a contract would be formed.”   The court reasoned that the Google documents at issue neither informed users how they might conclude the bargain, nor invited the performance of a specific act, leaving nothing for negotiation. The court held that the district court properly granted summary judgment to Google on Plaintiff’s conversion and breach of contract claims. View "ANDREW ROLEY V. GOOGLE LLC" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff alleged that corporate executives at Align Technology, Inc., a medical device manufacturer best known for selling “Invisalign” braces, misrepresented their company's prospects in China.   The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court’s dismissal of the securities fraud class action under Sections 10(b), 20(a), and 20A of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Rule 10b-5. The court rejected as unsupported Defendants’ argument that their statements could not be considered false at the time they were made because Plaintiff did not allege sufficient facts to make plausible the inference that the rate of Align’s growth in China had begun to decline significantly when the challenged statements were made. The court concluded that former employees’ reports, viewed alongside circumstantial evidence of the short period of time between the twelve challenged statements and the downturn of Align’s prospects in China, sufficiently supported the inference that Align’s growth in China had slowed materially when the statements were made.   The court held that the district court correctly found that six of the challenged statements were non-actionable “puffery,” which involves vague statements of optimism expressing an opinion that is not capable of objective verification. The district court also correctly found that the remaining six statements did not create a false impression of Align’s growth in China and so were not actionable. Having determined that all of the challenged statements were nonactionable, the panel declined to reach issues of scienter and control-person or insider-trading liability. View "MACOMB COUNTY EMPL. RET. SYS. V. ALIGN TECHNOLOGY, INC." on Justia Law

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FAS is in the business of pre-foreclosure property preservation for the residential mortgage industry. Bowerman contracted with FAS as a vendor. Bowerman alleged that FAS willfully misclassified him and members of a putative class as independent contractors, rather than employees, resulting in failure to pay overtime compensation and to indemnify them for their business expenses.The Ninth Circuit reversed the district court’s certification of a class of 156 individuals who personally performed work for FAS, reversed partial summary judgment in favor of the class, vacated an interim award of more than five million dollars in attorneys’ fees, and remanded. The class members failed to demonstrate that FAS’s liability was subject to common proof or that “damages are capable of measurement on a classwide basis,” Fed. R. Civ. P. 23(b)(3). The district court erred in finding no triable issue of material fact as to the employment relationship. There were genuine disputes of material fact: whether the vendors were free from FAS’s control, and whether they were engaged in an independently established trade, occupation, or business. The facts supported the conclusion that the vendors performed services for FAS in the usual course of FAS’s business. There was also a genuine dispute of material fact as to whether the class members ever incurred reimbursable expenses or worked overtime. On remand, the district court may consider a “joint employment” issue for class members who own or operate distinct legal entities. View "Bowerman v. Field Asset Services, Inc." on Justia Law

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Appellants, Medicaid providers and former members of public-sector unions, challenge the district courts’ dismissals of two cases, consolidated on appeal. When Appellants joined the unions, they authorized the California State Controller to deduct union dues from their Medicaid reimbursements. Appellants now contend that, when the Controller made these deductions, she violated the “anti-reassignment” provision of the Medicaid Act, which prohibits state Medicaid programs from paying anyone other than the providers or recipients of covered services.   The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court’s dismissal. The court explained that California uses some of its Medicaid funding to provide assistance with daily activities to elderly and disabled beneficiaries under a program called In-Home Support Services (IHSS). The recipients of these services are responsible for employing and overseeing the work of their IHSS providers, who are often family members. The Controller makes a variety of standard payroll deductions, including for federal and state income tax, unemployment compensation, and retirement savings. California law also authorizes the Controller to deduct union dues from the paychecks of IHSS providers.   Thus, the court held that the Medicaid Act’s anti-reassignment provision, 42 U.S.C. Section 1396a(a)(32), does not confer a right on Medicaid providers enforceable under Section 1983. The text and legislative history of the anti-reassignment provision make clear that Congress was focused on preventing fraud and abuse in state Medicaid programs rather than on serving the needs of Medicaid providers. Because Congress did not intend to benefit Medicaid providers, the anti-reassignment provision did not confer a right as enforceable under Section 1983. View "DELORES POLK V. BETTY YEE" on Justia Law

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This appeal arose from a class action filed under the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000 by individuals who were incarcerated in private immigration detention facilities owned and operated by a for-profit corporation, CoreCivic, Inc. These individuals were detained solely due to their immigration status alleged that the overseers of their private detention facilities forced them to perform labor against their will and without compensation. The inquiry on appeal concerns only whether the district court properly certified three classes of detainees.   The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court’s order certifying three classes in an action. The court held that the district court properly exercised its discretion in certifying a California Labor Law Class, a California Forced Labor Class, and a National Forced Labor Class. The court held that, as to the California Forced Labor Class, Plaintiffs submitted sufficient proof of a class-wide policy of forced labor to establish commonality. Plaintiff established predominance because the claims of the class members all depended on common questions of law and fact. The court agreed with the district court that narrowing the California Forced Labor Class based on the California TVPA’s statute of limitations was not required at the class certification stage.   The court held that, as to the National Forced Labor Class, the district court did not abuse its discretion in concluding that Plaintiffs presented significant proof of a class-wide policy of forced labor. As to the California Labor Law Class, the court held that Plaintiffs established that damages were capable of measurement on a class-wide basis. View "SYLVESTER OWINO V. CORECIVIC, INC." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed a class action against air conditioner manufacturer Carrier Corporation alleging that his air conditioner was defective, asserting state law claims and a federal Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act ("MMWA") claim. The court reasoned that although the MMWA is a federal statute, federal courts do not have jurisdiction over an MMWA claim if the amount in controversy is less than $50,000. At issue is whether attorneys’ fees count toward the MMWA’s amount in controversy requirement.The panel held that attorneys’ fees are not “costs” within the meaning of MMWA, and therefore they may be included in the amount in controversy if they are available to prevail plaintiffs pursuant to state fee-shifting statutes.The panel next considered whether Plaintiff could include attorneys’ fees toward the MMWA’s $50,000 jurisdictional threshold. Plaintiff’s MMWA claim was premised on Carrier’s alleged breach of express and implied warranties pursuant to Michigan law. Neither of these statutes grants a prevailing plaintiff attorneys’ fees. The court found that even if this claim was included in his lawsuit, the Act makes clear that attorneys’ fees are not available in a class action. Thus, because Plaintiff brought this claim as part of a putative class action, he is not entitled to attorneys’ fees under state law. View "NICHOLAS SHONER V. CARRIER CORPORATION" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs brought Title IX claims for failure to provide equal treatment and benefits, failure to provide equal opportunities to male and female athletes, and retaliation against female athletes when they brought up Title IX compliance to high school administrators. The district court denied Plaintiff’s motion for class certification, finding that they failed to meet the numerosity requirement under Fed. R. Civ. P. 23(a).The Ninth Circuit reversed. Rule 23(a)(1) requires a party seeking class certification to prove that “the class is so numerous that joinder of all members is impracticable.” The proposed class of plaintiffs at the time of filing exceeded 300. Additionally, the district court failed to consider the future students who also fell within the class. To satisfy the numerosity element of Rule 23(a) Plaintiffs do not need to show that the joinder of all possible class members is impossible, only that it is impracticable. The court also found Plaintiffs’ other claims met Rule 23(a)’s requirements, remanding the case for the district court to determine whether Plaintiffs satisfied Rule 23(b). View "A. B. V. HAWAII STATE DEPT OF EDUC." on Justia Law