Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit

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Plaintiffs filed a putative class action, alleging that defendants (insurance providers, banks, and credit card companies) targeted credit card holders with fraudulent solicitations for illegal accidental disability and medical expense insurance policies. Plaintiffs were among the cardholders who purchased those policies, which plaintiffs allege were void ab initio because they violated New York insurance law. Although plaintiffs did not suffer qualifying losses or make claims for coverage, they argued that they are nevertheless entitled to reimbursement of the premiums and fees they paid defendants, plus enhanced damages, based on quasi‐contract, civil fraud, and statutory claims. The district court dismissed the suit, reasoning that plaintiffs could not establish the injury‐in‐fact element of Article III standing. The court concluded the policies were not void ab initio because under a New York savings statute, plaintiffs would have received coverage had they filed claims for qualifying losses, N.Y. Ins. Law 3103. The Second Circuit vacated, stating that an Article III court must resolve the threshold jurisdictional standing inquiry before it addresses the claim's merits. The district court’s analysis conflated the requirement for an injury in fact with the underlying validity of plaintiffs’ arguments, and engaged a question of New York state law that the state courts have yet to answer. View "DuBuisson v. Stonebridge Life Insurance Co." on Justia Law

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Employees of Wells Fargo filed putative class arbitrations before the American Arbitration Association, seeking unpaid overtime from Wells Fargo. The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of Wells Fargo's petitions seeking to compel bilateral, rather than class, arbitration. The court assumed without deciding that the question whether an arbitration clause authorized class arbitration was a so-called "question of arbitrability" presumptively for a court, rather than an arbitrator, to decide. Therefore, applying Missouri's arbitration and contract law, the court held that the parties overcame this presumption by clearly and unmistakably expressing their intent to let an arbitrator decide whether they agreed to authorize class arbitration. View "Wells Fargo Advisors, LLC v. Sappington" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs, holders of Petrobras equity, filed a class action against various defendants after the multinational oil and gas company was involved in money-laundering and kickback schemes. The district court certified two classes: the first asserting claims under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, 15 U.S.C. 78a et seq.; and the second asserting claims under the Securities Act of 1933,15 U.S.C. 77a et seq. The Second Circuit clarified the scope of the contested ascertainability doctrine and held that a class is ascertainable if it is defined using objective criteria that establish a membership with definite boundaries. That threshold requirement was met in this case. The court held that the district court committed legal error by finding that Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(b)(3)'s predominance requirement was satisfied without considering the need for individual Morrison v. National Australia Bank Ltd., 561 U.S. 247 (2010), inquiries regarding domestic transactions. Therefore, the court vacated this portion of the Certification Order. The court also held that the district court did not abuse its discretion by determining that the Exchange Act class met their burden under Basic Inc. v. Levinson, 485 U.S. 224 (1988), with a combination of direct and indirect evidence of market efficiency.  Accordingly, the court affirmed as to this issue. View "In re Petrobras Securities" on Justia Law