Justia Class Action Opinion Summaries

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Plaintiffs sought unpaid overtime wages for the period between January 1, 2015, and February 1, 2016, during which a Department of Labor rule entitling homecare workers to overtime pay under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) was temporarily vacated. The district court conditionally certified a putative collective consisting of In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS) providers who worked overtime during this period.   The Ninth Circuit affirmed in part and reversed in part the district court’s orders granting summary judgment in favor of Los Angeles County Department of Social Services and denying partial summary judgment to Plaintiffs. Reversing in part and remanding, the panel held that the County was a joint employer, along with care recipients, of IHSS providers, and thus could be liable under the FLSA for failing to pay overtime compensation.   The panel held that, notwithstanding differences between the IHSS program operating in Los Angeles County today and the programs analyzed in Bonnette, the County was a joint employer of Plaintiffs, in light of the economic and structural control it exercised over the employment relationship. The panel directed the district court, on remand, to grant partial summary judgment to Plaintiffs on the issue of whether the County was a joint employer of IHSS providers.   Further, the panel held that the district court did not err in granting partial summary judgment to the County on the issue of willfulness and denying partial summary judgment to plaintiffs on the issue of liquidated damages. The panel held that a determination of willfulness and the assessment of liquidated damages are reserved for the most recalcitrant violators. View "TRINA RAY, ET AL V. LOS ANGELES COUNTY DEPARTMENT, ET AL" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the trial court denying the motion for class certification brought by Plaintiffs, inmates in North Carolina Department of Public Safety (DPS) custody, seeking to represent certain individuals in DPS custody who are being or will be subjected to solitary confinement, holding that the trial court did not abuse its discretion.Plaintiffs filed a class action lawsuit seeking to certify a class of current and future inmates assigned to one of five restrictive housing classifications, alleging that the conditions of confinement constituted cruel or unusual punishment. The trial court denied Plaintiffs' motion for class certification, finding that a certifiable class did not exist. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in concluding that Plaintiffs failed to demonstrate a common predominating issue among the proposed class members. View "Dewalt v. Hooks" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court remanded this case after Appellant appealed a circuit court order granting in part and denying in part its motion to enforce arbitration agreements and to compel class members with arbitration agreements to submit their claims to binding arbitration, holding that remand was required.In this case involving several claims against a nursing home, Plaintiff moved to enforce arbitration agreements and to compel other class members with arbitration agreements to submit their claims to binding arbitration, a motion that involved arbitration agreements signed by thirty-three residents at admission. The circuit court granted the motion with respect to fifteen residents and denied it with respect to eighteen residents. The Supreme Court remanded the case with instructions for the circuit court to make findings regarding its order denying Plaintiffs motion to compel arbitration, holding that, in order to conduct a proper appellate review, this Court must know the circuit court's rationale for its decision. View "Robinson Nursing & Rehabilitation Center, LLC v. Phillips" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the circuit court granting class certification in this class action alleging that Mid-South Adjustment Co., Inc. violated provisions of the Arkansas Fair Debt Collection Practices Act when attempting to collect debt on behalf of Jacksonville Water Works, holding that there was no error.On appeal, Mid-South argued, among other things, that the class definition was unworkable because it required individualized inquiry into when each potential member made his or her last payment and when the statute of limitations period expired. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the class definition properly identified class members by objective criteria; (2) the circuit court did not err in finding that a class action is a superior method for adjudication; and (3) Brittany Smith was an adequate class representative. View "Mid-South Adjustment Co., Inc. v. Smith" on Justia Law

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In 2008, California enacted a Property Assessed Clean Energy program (PACE) as a method for homeowners to finance energy and water conservation improvements. A PACE debt was created by contract and secured by the improved property. But like a tax, the installment payments were billed and paid as a special assessment on the improved property, resulting in a first-priority tax lien in the event of default. The named plaintiffs in these putative class actions were over 65 years old and entered into PACE contracts. The defendants were private companies who either made PACE loans to plaintiffs, were assigned rights to payment, and/or administered PACE programs for municipalities. The gravamen of the complaint in each case was that PACE financing was actually, and should have been treated as, a secured home improvement loan. Plaintiffs alleged that defendants engaged in unfair and deceptive business practices by violating consumer protection laws, including Civil Code section 1804.1(j), which prohibited taking a security interest in a senior citizen’s residence to secure a home improvement loan. Generally, a taxpayer could not pursue a court action for a refund of property taxes without first applying to the local board of equalization for a reduction and then filing an administrative claim for a refund. Here, defendants demurred to the complaints on the sole ground that plaintiffs failed to allege they first exhausted administrative remedies. The trial court agreed, sustained the demurrers without leave to amend, and entered a judgment of dismissal in each case. On appeal, plaintiffs primarily contend they were not required to pursue administrative remedies because they have sued only private companies and do not challenge “any aspect of the municipal tax process involved.” The Court of Appeal found that despite their assertions to the contrary, plaintiffs did challenge their property tax assessments. And although they did not sue any government entity, the “consumer protection statutes under which plaintiffs brought their action cannot be employed to avoid the limitations and procedures set out by the Revenue and Taxation Code.” Thus, the Court concluded plaintiffs were required to submit their claims through the administrative appeals process in the first instance. "Their failure to do so requires the judgments to be affirmed." View "Morgan v. Ygrene Energy Fund, Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed a complaint against his former employer, Facility Solutions Group, Inc. (FSG), for disability discrimination and related causes of action under the Fair Employment & Housing Act. The same month Plaintiff filed this class action against FSG for Labor Code violations, which also included a claim under the Private Attorneys General Act of 2004.   The trial court in this action denied FSG’s motion, finding unconscionability permeated the arbitration agreement because it had a low to moderate level of procedural unconscionability and at least six substantively unconscionable terms, making severance infeasible. On appeal, FSG contends claim and issue preclusion required the trial court in this action to enforce the arbitration agreement.   The Second Appellate District affirmed. The court agreed with the trial court that the arbitration agreement is permeated with unconscionability, and the court cannot simply sever the offending provisions. Rather, the court would need to rewrite the agreement, creating a new agreement to which the parties never agreed. Moreover, upholding this type of agreement with multiple unconscionable terms would create an incentive for an employer to draft a onesided arbitration agreement in the hope employees would not challenge the unlawful provisions, but if they do, the court would simply modify the agreement to include the bilateral terms the employer should have included in the first place. View "Mills v. Facility Solutions Group" on Justia Law

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Apple entered into a $310 million settlement with a class of individuals based on claims that Apple secretly throttled the system performance of certain model iPhones to mask battery defects. Five class objectors sought to vacate the settlement on various grounds, including 1.) that the district court provided inadequate notice of the settlement to nonnatural persons; 2.) the settlement extinguished the claims of “all former or current U.S. owners” of certain devices who downloaded iOS software before Apple disclosed potential defect, but the settlement limited recovery to the subset of owners who can attest that “they experienced” the alleged defects; and 3.) that the district court cited the wrong legal standard in examining the settlement’s fairness by improperly applying a presumption of reasonableness to the settlement rather than applying a heightened scrutiny.The Ninth Circuit held that the district court applied the wrong legal standard when reviewing the settlement’s fairness. View "IN RE: NAMED PLAINTIFFS, ET AL V. APPLE INC." on Justia Law

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This case involves challenges to five provisions of the Grants Pass Municipal Code (“GPMC”). The provisions can be described as an “anti-sleeping” ordinance, two “anticamping” ordinances, a “park exclusion” ordinance, and a “park exclusion appeals” ordinance.   The Ninth Circuit affirmed in part and vacated in part the district court’s summary judgment and its permanent injunction in favor of Plaintiffs; affirmed certification pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 23(b)(2), of a class of “involuntary homeless” persons; and remanded in an action challenging municipal ordinances which, among other things, preclude homeless persons from using a blanket, a pillow, or cardboard box for protection from the elements while sleeping within the City’s limits.   The panel stated that this court’s decision in Martin v. City of Boise, 902 F.3d 1031 (9th Cir. 2018), which held that “the Eighth Amendment prohibits the imposition of criminal penalties for sitting, sleeping, or lying outside on public property for homeless individuals who cannot obtain shelter” served as the backdrop for this entire litigation. The panel held that there was abundant evidence in the record establishing that homeless persons were injured by the City’s enforcement actions in the past and it was undisputed that enforcements have continued. The panel further held that the relief sought by plaintiffs, enjoining enforcement of a few municipal ordinances aimed at involuntary homeless persons, was redressable within the limits of Article III. The panel held that based on the record in this case, the district court did not err by finding plaintiffs satisfied the requirements of Fed. R. Civ. P. 23(a) such that a class could be certified under Rule 23(b)(2). View "GLORIA JOHNSON, ET AL V. CITY OF GRANTS PASS" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs brought a putative class action under 42 U.S.C. Section 1983 alleging that tire chalking violated the Fourth Amendment. The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court’s summary judgment for Defendants and held that municipalities are not required to obtain warrants before chalking tires as part of enforcing time limits on city parking spots. The panel held that even assuming the temporary dusting of chalk on a tire constitutes a Fourth Amendment “search,” it falls within the administrative search exception to the warrant requirement. Complementing a broader program of traffic control, tire chalking is reasonable in its scope and manner of execution. It is not used for general crime control purposes. And its intrusion on personal liberty is de minimis at most. View "ANDRE VERDUN, ET AL V. CITY OF SAN DIEGO, ET AL" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs were injured in unspecified accidents and treated by South Carolina health care providers. Seeking to pursue personal injury lawsuits, Plaintiffs requested their medical records from the relevant providers. Those records—and accompanying invoices—were supplied by defendants Ciox Health, LLC and ScanSTAT Technologies LLC, “information management companies” that retrieve medical records from health care providers and transmit them to requesting patients or patient representatives. Claiming the invoiced fees were too high or otherwise illegal, Plaintiffs filed a putative class action against Ciox and ScanSTAT in federal district court.   The district court dismissed the complaint and the Fourth Circuit affirmed. The court explained that South Carolina law gives patients a right to obtain copies of their medical records, while capping the fees “a physician, or other owner” may bill for providing them. However, the statutory obligations at issue apply only to physicians and other owners of medical records, not medical records companies. View "Tammie Thompson v. Ciox Health, LLC" on Justia Law