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Disability rights advocates brought a proposed class action suit against Steak ’n Shake under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C 12101, alleging they have personally experienced difficulty ambulating in their wheelchairs through two sloped parking facilities. They sought to sue on behalf of all physically disabled individuals who may have experienced similar difficulties at Steak ’n Shake restaurants throughout the country. The district court certified the proposed class. The Third Circuit reversed and remanded, first holding that the plaintiffs have Article III standing to bring their claims in federal court. Although a mere procedural violation of the ADA does not qualify as an injury in fact under Article III, plaintiffs allege to have personally experienced concrete injuries as a result of ADA violations on at least two occasions. Plaintiffs sufficiently alleged that these injuries were caused by unlawful corporate policies that can be redressed with injunctive relief. However, the “extraordinarily broad class” certified by the district court violates the Rule 23(a)(1) requirement that the proposed class be “so numerous that joinder of all members is impracticable” and Rule 23(a)(2)’s requirement that plaintiffs demonstrate that “there are questions of law or fact common to the class.” View "Mielo v. Steak N Shake Operations Inc." on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed a post-judgment order concluding that the district court retained jurisdiction to enforce the stipulated class action settlement agreement MDHS entered into with plaintiffs. Determining that it had jurisdiction over the appeal based on the collateral order doctrine, the court held that the district court did not err in determining that, under Minnesota contract law, the jurisdictional provision of the settlement agreement was ambiguous on its face. The court further held that the extrinsic evidence showed that the provision permitted the district court to extend its jurisdiction as it deemed just and equitable. View "Jensen v. Minnesota Department of Human Services" on Justia Law

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Objectors challenged the district court's order granting final approval of a class action settlement agreement between Remington and a class of members that alleged Remington rifles were susceptible to unintentional firing without a trigger pull. The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's judgment, holding that the notice plan was adequate and satisfied the methods and mechanisms for disseminating notice set forth in Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23. In this case, the notice of the settlement was adequate as the supplemental notice plan included a social media campaign, radio advertising, email notices, direct mailings and vendor posters. Furthermore, the low claim submission rate, while not ideal, was not necessarily indicative of a deficient notice plan. Finally, the proposed settlement was fair, reasonable, and adequate where the record made plain that it followed meaningful discovery and investigation by class counsel and arm's length negotiations. View "Pollard v. Frost" on Justia Law

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In 2011-2012 a million people received phone calls asking them to take political surveys in exchange for a chance to go on a free cruise. Some recipients filed a class action under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, 47 U.S.C. 227, seeking damages from defendants who had not placed the calls but had directed them. The district court certified a class and later granted plaintiffs partial summary judgment. The parties settled. Plaintiffs agreed to release their claims against all defendants and their agents. Defendants agreed to pay into a fund between $56 million and $76 million, depending on the number of approved claims submitted. Out of the fund will come payments to the class, incentive awards to the named representatives, about $2 million in administrative expenses, and attorneys’ fees. The class will receive payments in two rounds. If some claimants do not cash the checks during the second round, remaining funds will go to “an appropriate cy pres recipient.” Over the objections of a class member, the court approved the settlement, estimating that each claimant will receive $400. Class counsel will receive 36% of the first $10 million, 30% of the next $10 million, 24% of the next $36 million, and 18% of any additional recovery. The Seventh Circuit affirmed, rejecting arguments that the award of fees overcompensates class counsel and that the settlement’s approval was improper. View "McCabe v. Caribbean Cruise Line, Inc." on Justia Law

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While district courts generally have discretion under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b)(5) to adjust the terms of an existing consent decree in light of changed circumstances, the issuance of a new injunction must meet the strict preconditions for such exceptional relief set out in Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 65. This case stemmed from a putative class action brought by a broad group of Medicaid applicants and recipients against the District. The parties eventually reached a settlement and a consent decree was issued. Plaintiffs subsequently filed a motion for a preliminary injunction and renewals under the Affordable Care Act. About a week after briefing on the preliminary injunction concluded, plaintiffs filed a motion under Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 60(b)(5) and (b)(6) to "modify" the Consent Decree to achieve precisely the same relief as the pending motion for a preliminary injunction. The district court granted the motion to modify and denied the motion for a preliminary injunction as moot. The DC Circuit held that the district court's order provided brand new relief based on brand new facts alleging violations of a new law without the requisite findings for an injunction, and thus it crossed the line from permissibly modifying into impermissibly enjoining. Accordingly, the court reversed the district court's judgment, vacated the new injunctive relief, and remanded for further proceedings. View "Salazar v. District of Columbia" on Justia Law

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Certain limited liability companies (LLCs) paid a levy under Revenue and Taxation Code section 17942, which was later determined by the court of appeal to be unconstitutional. After two separate actions seeking class treatment for the payment of refund claims were coordinated, the trial court rejected a jurisdictional argument from the Franchise Tax Board (FTB) that the LLCs had failed to adequately exhaust their administrative remedies as a class and could not proceed on a classwide basis. The court, however, went on to deny the motion for class certification on multiple other grounds, including lack of ascertainability, numerosity, predominance, and superiority. The court of appeal reversed. The court agreed with the trial court’s exhaustion determination but concluded that its class certification analysis was fundamentally flawed. The court deemed the matter “eminently suitable for treatment on a classwide basis.” There is no bar to certification of a class action for refund of unconstitutional taxes so long as all class members have filed their own individual claims and thereby exhausted their administrative remedies; no purpose would be served by erecting a jurisdictional barrier to class treatment of those claims on the formalistic ground that no class claim for refund was filed. View "Franchise Tax Board Limited Liability Corp. Tax Refund Cases" on Justia Law

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The district court denied class certification to a class of plaintiffs who allegedly received unsolicited faxed advertisements from McKesson between September 2009 and May 2010, in violation of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991. The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of class certification with respect to a possible subclass of the putative class members with the fifty-five unique fax numbers in Exhibit C; reversed the district court's holding that the other possible subclasses cannot satisfy the predominance requirement of Rule 23(b)(3); held that the subclass of putative class members with 9,223 unique fax numbers that would be created by taking out of Exhibit A the putative class members listed in Exhibits B and C would satisfy the predominance requirement of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(b)(3); remanded for a determination by the district court whether the claims and defenses applicable to some or all of the class of putative class members with 2,701 unique fax numbers listed in Exhibit B would satisfy the predominance requirement of Rule 23(b)(3); and remanded to allow the district court to address the requirements of Rule 23(a). View "True Health Chiropractic, Inc. v. McKesson Corp." on Justia Law

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In 2008, plaintiffs filed a class action concerning 540 properties in Dayton’s McCook Field neighborhood, alleging that the groundwater is contaminated with carcinogenic volatile organic compounds, released by defendants’ automotive and dry cleaning facilities. The EPA designated the area as a Superfund site. Plaintiffs have access to municipal drinking water but the contaminated groundwater creates the risk of VOC vapor intrusion into buildings so that Plaintiffs may inhale carcinogenic and hazardous substances. A school was closed and demolished when vapor mitigation systems were unable to adequately contain the levels of harmful substances. After the suit was removed to federal court under the Class Action Fairness Act, 28 U.S.C. 1332(d)(2) and consolidated with related actions, Plaintiffs sought Rule 23(b)(3) liability-only class certification for five of their 11 causes of action—private nuisance, negligence, negligence per se, strict liability, and unjust enrichment. Alternatively, they requested Rule 23(c)(4) certification of seven common issues. The court determined that although the proposed classes satisfied Rule 23(a)’s prerequisites, Ohio law regarding injury-in-fact and causation meant that plaintiffs could not meet Rule 23(b)(3)’s predominance requirement and denied certification of the proposed liability-only classes. The court then employed the “broad view” and certified seven issues for class treatment. The Sixth Circuit affirmed. The certified classes satisfy requirements of predominance and superiority. Each issue may be resolved with common proof and individualized inquiries do not outweigh common questions. Class treatment of the certified issues will not resolve liability entirely, but will materially advance the litigation. View "Martin v. Behr Dayton Thermal Products, LLC" on Justia Law

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Objectors challenged the district court's judgments in a settlement involving Volkswagen after the company admitted that it had installed defeat devices in certain models of their vehicles. These devices were at the center of a massive scheme by VW to cheat on U.S. emissions tests. The Ninth Circuit held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in certifying the class where eligible sellers benefited from being in the class alongside vehicle owners and there were no signs of an improper conflict of interest that denied absent class members adequate representation. Furthermore, the district court more than discharged its duty in ensuring that the settlement was fair and adequate to the class. The panel also held that the district court did not abuse its discretion by denying Tori Partl's motion to opt out of the settlement class after the deadline to do so had passed. In this case, she had actual and timely notice of the proper method of excluding herself from the settlement, and was therefore responsible for the failure to opt out on time. View "Hill v. Volkswagen, AG" on Justia Law

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Walsh, a New Jersey citizen, filed a putative class action in New Jersey Superior Court, alleging that class members purchased home security equipment and monitoring service from defendants and signed contracts that defendants prepared which contained illegal provisions relating to fees due on cancellation. Walsh cited New Jersey consumer protection laws. Defenders, an Indiana corporation, removed the case invoking Class Action Fairness Act diversity jurisdiction, 28 U.S.C. 1332(d)(2), (d)(2)(A), (d)(5)(B). Walsh sought remand, arguing that ADT’s presence in the case triggered CAFA’s local controversy exception under which a district court must decline jurisdiction if the controversy is uniquely connected to the state in which the plaintiff originally filed: ADT is a citizen of New Jersey; ADT’s conduct forms a significant basis for the claims asserted; and Walsh sought significant relief from ADT. The court agreed that ADT, though a Delaware LLC, had New Jersey citizenship, but denied the motion, stating that ADT “appears to have no actual interest in the outcome” because it had transferred its liabilities. On reconsideration, the court reversed, citing evidence that ADT entered into the subject contracts with 35.3% of the putative class, and created the challenged standardized provisions. The Third Circuit affirmed remand of the case. ADT has an interest in the litigation; the court correctly took into account its citizenship. Because of ADT’s role concerning the allegedly illegal provisions, and because over a third of the class members entered into contracts directly with ADT, ADT’s conduct forms a significant basis for the claims. View "Walsh v. Defenders, Inc." on Justia Law