Justia Class Action Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
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A group of current and former inmates, or their representatives, filed a class action lawsuit against Kate Brown, the Governor of Oregon, and Patrick Allen, the Director of the Oregon Health Authority, claiming that the state's COVID-19 vaccine rollout plan, which prioritized corrections officers over inmates, violated their Eighth Amendment rights. The defendants moved to dismiss the claim, asserting immunity under the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness (PREP) Act. The district court denied the motion, and the defendants appealed.The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit reversed the district court's decision, finding that the defendants were immune from liability for the vaccine prioritization claim under the PREP Act. The court held that the statutory requirements for PREP Act immunity were met because the "administration" of a covered countermeasure includes prioritization of that countermeasure when its supply is limited. The court further concluded that the PREP Act's provisions extend immunity to persons who make policy-level decisions regarding the administration or use of covered countermeasures. The court also held that the PREP Act provides immunity from suit and liability for constitutional claims brought under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, even if those claims are federal constitutional claims. View "MANEY V. BROWN" on Justia Law

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The case concerned a lawsuit brought by Ariana Miles against her former employer, Kirkland's Stores Inc., alleging that two of the company's employee policies violated California law. The first policy required employees to take rest breaks on store property, while the second necessitated employees to undergo bag checks when they finished their shifts. Miles sought class certification for subclasses of employees affected by these two policies from May 2014 to the present. The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit reversed the district court's denial of class certification for subclasses related to the Rest Break Claim due to the inaccuracy of the district court's finding that the rest break policy was inconsistently applied. The court held that overwhelming record evidence indicated that the company consistently enforced its rest break policy across all employees. However, the court upheld the district court's denial of class certification for the Bag Check Claim, as the evidence suggested that the bag check policy was sporadically enforced, which would require individualized inquiries. The case was thus remanded for further proceedings concerning the Rest Break Claim. View "MILES V. KIRKLAND'S STORES, INC." on Justia Law

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The plaintiff, a survivor of childhood sex trafficking, filed a class action suit against a group of foreign and domestic corporations, alleging that they violated federal and California laws by distributing videos of her sexual abuse on the internet. The defendants included the owners and operators of two pornography websites based in the Czech Republic. The plaintiff argued that the court had personal jurisdiction over the foreign defendants under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 4(k)(2), which allows for jurisdiction over a foreign defendant if the claim arises under federal law, the defendant is not subject to jurisdiction in any state's courts, and exercising jurisdiction is consistent with the U.S. Constitution and laws. The district court dismissed the case, ruling that it lacked personal jurisdiction over the foreign defendants.The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit reversed in part and vacated in part the district court's dismissal. The court found that the plaintiff had established a prima facie case that the Czech website operators had purposefully directed their websites at the United States. The court also held that the plaintiff's claims arose from the defendants' forum-related activities, and that the defendants failed to show that the exercise of personal jurisdiction would be unreasonable. Therefore, the court reversed the district court's dismissal of the action against the Czech defendants for lack of personal jurisdiction.The court also vacated the district court's dismissal of nine additional foreign defendants. The district court had dismissed these defendants solely on the grounds that there was no personal jurisdiction over the Czech defendants. The appellate court instructed the district court to address on remand whether personal jurisdiction could be asserted against these additional defendants. View "DOE V. WEBGROUP CZECH REPUBLIC, A.S." on Justia Law

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In a class action lawsuit, plaintiffs accused Eden Creamery, LLC of underfilling its pints of Halo Top ice cream. After the discovery period, the plaintiffs attempted to amend their complaint to include a new theory of liability (fraud by omission) and a new defendant (Wells Enterprises). The district court denied this motion, stating that plaintiffs failed to show good cause for amending their complaint. The plaintiffs then moved to voluntarily dismiss their claims without prejudice, which the district court also denied, instead dismissing the individual claims with prejudice and the class claims without prejudice.On appeal, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit found that the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying the motion to amend the complaint, as the plaintiffs failed to show good cause for amending after the deadline to do so had passed. However, the court found that the district court had abused its discretion by denying the plaintiffs' motion for voluntary dismissal without prejudice, as the defendants did not demonstrate that they would suffer legal prejudice if the case were dismissed without prejudice. The court held that a defendant must show legal prejudice to prevent a dismissal without prejudice. Uncertainty from unresolved disputes or inconvenience of defending another lawsuit does not constitute legal prejudice. The case was remanded with instructions to dismiss the action without prejudice, and the district court was instructed to consider whether any conditions should be imposed on the dismissal, such as an appropriate amount of costs and fees. View "KAMAL V. EDEN CREAMERY, LLC" on Justia Law

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In this case, the plaintiff, Lorenzo Dominguez, who was a former employee of Better Mortgage Corporation, alleged that the company violated federal and state wage-and-hour laws, primarily by failing to pay overtime to him and other mortgage underwriters. Upon being sued, Better Mortgage attempted to reduce the size of the potential class and collective action by persuading employees to agree not to join any collective or class action and to settle their claims individually. The district court found that Better Mortgage's communications were misleading and coercive. As such, the court nullified the new employment agreements, release agreements, and ordered the company to communicate with current and former employees about wage-and-hour issues only in writing and with prior approval.The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court’s order imposing a communication restriction on Better Mortgage, considering the company's appeal timely due to a motion to reconsider the restriction, thus tolling the time to file the notice of appeal. The appellate court held that it had jurisdiction to review the communication restriction and found it both justified and tailored to the situation created by the employer’s misleading and coercive communications. However, the appellate court dismissed for lack of jurisdiction the employer’s appeal from the district court’s order nullifying agreements between the employer and current and former employees. The appellate court found that it lacked jurisdiction to consider the merits of the nullification order because the issue was raised in an interlocutory appeal and did not fit any exception that would allow for review. View "DOMINGUEZ V. BETTER MORTGAGE CORPORATION" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a district court's approval of a class action settlement between Tinder and Lisa Kim, a user of the dating app, ruling that Kim was not an adequate class representative. This class action lawsuit against Tinder was over its former age-based pricing model. Kim had agreed to arbitration, unlike over 7,000 potential members of the class, creating a fundamental conflict of interest that violated Rule 23(a)(4). The court found that Kim had a strong interest in settling her claim as she had no chance of going to trial, unlike the other members. The court also noted that Kim failed to vigorously litigate the case on behalf of the class, with her approach to opposing Tinder’s motion to compel arbitration not suggesting vigor. The court remanded the case for consideration of Kim's individual action against Tinder. View "KIM V. TINDER, INC." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff is a resident of California. While present in California, Plaintiff used his iPhone’s Safari browser to navigate to the website of California-based retailer IABMFG to purchase fitness apparel. Although Plaintiff claims he did not know it at the time, IABMFG’s website used software and code from Shopify, Inc. to process customer orders and payments. Shopify, Inc. is a Canadian corporation with its headquarters in Ottawa, Canada. Plaintiff filed a putative class action lawsuit in California alleging that Shopify violated various California privacy and unfair competition laws because it deliberately concealed its involvement in consumer transactions. The district court agreed, dismissing the second amended complaint without leave to amend. Plaintiff timely appealed.   The Ninth Circuit affirmed. For specific jurisdiction to exist over Shopify, Plaintiff’s claim must arise out of or relate to Shopify’s forum-related activities. The panel held that there was no causal relationship between Shopify’s broader business contacts in California and Plaintiff’s claims because these contacts did not cause Plaintiff’s harm. Nor did Plaintiff’s claims “relate to” Shopify’s broader business activities in California outside of its extraction and retention of plaintiff’s data. Because there was an insufficient relationship between plaintiff's claims and Shopify’s broader business contacts in California, the activities relevant to the specific jurisdiction analysis were those that caused Plaintiff’s injuries: Shopify’s collection, retention, and use of consumer data obtained from persons who made online purchases while in California. The panel held that Shopify, which provides nationwide web-based payment processing services to online merchants, did not expressly aim its conduct toward California. View "BRANDON BRISKIN V. SHOPIFY, INC., ET AL" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs appealed the dismissal of their class action, alleging that the Ford Motor Company (“Ford”) made unlawful recordings of their private communications in violation of the Washington Privacy Act (“WPA”).   The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court’s judgment. The panel rejected Plaintiffs’ request for remand to the Washington state court because it was based on the flawed argument that Ford “self-rebutted the assertion of Art. III jurisdiction” when it alleged that plaintiffs failed to plead a statutory injury under the WPA in its motion to dismiss. The injury-in-fact prong of Article III standing and the merits of a WPA claim are separate inquiries. With respect to constitutional injury-in-fact, the complaint’s allegations plausibly articulated an Article III injury because they claimed a violation of a substantive privacy right. Article III standing was thus satisfied, and the district court properly retained jurisdiction. Turning to the merits of the WPA claim, the panel rejected Plaintiffs’ claim that a violation of the WPA itself is an invasion of privacy that constitutes remediable injury. An invasion of privacy, without more, is insufficient to meet the statutory injury requirements of WPA Section 9.73.060. Plaintiffs must allege an injury to “his or her business, his or her person, or his or her reputation.” The court found that Plaintiffs failed to do so here. View "MARK JONES, ET AL V. FORD MOTOR COMPANY" on Justia Law

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iRhythm Technologies, Inc.’s (iRhythm) stock price fell after it received a historically low Medicare reimbursement rate for one of its products. Appellant, an investor in iRhythm, filed a putative securities fraud class action against iRhythm and one of its former Chief Executive Officers, alleging that investors were misled during the regulatory process preceding this stock price collapse. Pursuant to the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 (PSLRA), the district court appointed Public Employees’ Retirement System of Mississippi (PERSM) as the lead plaintiff in the action. PERSM filed a first and then second amended complaint (SAC, the operative pleading) alleging securities fraud claims against iRhythm and additional corporate officers (together, Defendants). Defendants filed a motion to dismiss PERSM’s SAC for failure to state a claim. PERSM did not appeal the district court’s grant of this motion. Appellant appealed.   The Ninth Circuit dismissed, for lack of jurisdiction due to Appellant’s lack of standing, an appeal from the district court’s dismissal of a putative securities fraud class action. The panel held that Appellant lacked standing to appeal because he was not a party to the action. Appellant’s filing of the initial complaint and his listing in the caption of the second amended complaint were insufficient to confer party status upon him. The body of the operative complaint made clear that PERSM was the sole plaintiff, and Appellant’s status as a putative class member did not give him standing to appeal. The panel further held that Appelant failed to demonstrate exceptional circumstances conferring upon him standing to appeal as a non-party. View "MARK HABELT, ET AL V. IRHYTHM TECHNOLOGIES, INC., ET AL" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs, members of a certified class, are former California employees of Hyatt Corporation who were laid off after the COVID-19 pandemic struck in March 2020. Plaintiffs were laid off in March 2020 and then terminated in June 2020. Plaintiffs contend that Hyatt violated California law by failing to pay them immediately for their accrued vacation time and by failing to compensate them for the value of free hotel rooms employees received each year. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of Hyatt and dismissed the case with prejudice.   The Ninth Circuit affirmed in part and reversed in part the district court’s summary judgment. The panel concluded that the prompt payment provisions of the California Labor Code required Hyatt to pay Plaintiffs their accrued vacation pay in March 2020. The California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (“DLSE”) opinion letter and its Policies and Interpretations Manual establish that a temporary layoff without a specific return date within the normal pay period is a discharge that triggers the prompt payment provisions of Cal. Labor Code Section 201. Hyatt, thus, should have paid the accrued vacation pay at the initial layoff in March 2020 because the temporary layoff was longer than the normal pay period, and there was no specific return date. The panel reversed the district court’s grant of summary judgment to Hyatt as to the vacation pay claim and remanded for the district court to consider whether Hyatt acted willfully in failing to comply with the prompt payment provisions. View "KAREN HARTSTEIN V. HYATT CORPORATION" on Justia Law