Justia Class Action Opinion Summaries

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Plaintiffs, a class of children, appearing through their guardians ad litem, filed a lawsuit against Google LLC and others, alleging that Google used persistent identifiers to collect data and track their online behavior surreptitiously and without their consent in violation of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (“COPPA”). They pled only state law claims arising under the constitutional, statutory, and common law of California, Colorado, Indiana, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Tennessee, but also allege Google’s activities violate COPPA. The district court held that the “core allegations” in the third amended complaint were squarely covered, and preempted, by COPPA.   The Ninth Circuit reversed the district court’s dismissal on preemption grounds. The panel considered the question of whether COPPA preempts state law claims based on underlying conduct that also violates COPPA’s regulations. The Supreme Court has identified three different types of preemption—express, conflict, and field. First, express preemption is a question of statutory construction. The panel concluded that COPPA’s preemption clause does not bar state-law causes of action that are parallel to, or proscribe, the same conduct forbidden by, COPPA. Accordingly, express preemption does not apply to the plaintiff class’s claims. Second, even if express preemption is not applicable, preemptive intent may be inferred through conflict preemption principles. The panel held that although express and conflict preemption are analytically distinct inquiries, they effectively collapse into one when the preemption clause uses the term “inconsistent.” For the same reasons that the panel concluded there was no express preemption, the panel concluded that conflict preemption did not bar Plaintiffs’ claims. View "CARA JONES, ET AL V. GOOGLE LLC, ET AL" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff alleged that toxic chemicals used during the carpet manufacturing process have been allowed to seep into the rivers that supply drinking water to communities near Dalton, including Rome, Georgia and the rest of Floyd County. On behalf of himself and a proposed class of water subscribers and ratepayers, he sued Dalton Utilities, a municipal corporation that operates Dalton’s wastewater treatment system, for violating the Clean Water Act and for creating a public nuisance. His lawsuit claims that Dalton Utilities has caused the City of Rome’s domestic water supply to be contaminated with dangerously high levels of toxic chemicals.   The question before the Eleventh Circuit was whether Dalton Utilities is entitled to municipal immunity from Plaintiff’s nuisance abatement (injunctive relief) claim. The Eleventh Circuit denied Plaintiff’s motion to dismiss Dalton Utilities’ appeal for lack of jurisdiction. However, the court affirmed district court’s order denying Dalton Utilities’ motion to dismiss Plaintiff’s nuisance abatement claim on municipal immunity grounds. The court explained that at oral argument counsel for Dalton Utilities conceded that if Phillips is still good law, Plaintiff has properly alleged a Phillips kind of nuisance claim for personal injury. The court agreed and held that municipal immunity does not shield Dalton Utilities from Plaintiff’s nuisance abatement claim. View "Jarrod Johnson v. Water, Light, and Sinking Fund Commission of City of Dalton" on Justia Law

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The case arose from the district court’s dismissal with prejudice of Plaintiff’s class-action claim under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), against Meta Platforms, Inc. (Meta), formerly known as Facebook, Inc. Enacted in 1991, the TCPA generally bans calls made to a telephone if the call is generated by an “automatic telephone dialing system” (commonly referred to as an “autodialer”). Plaintiff argued that Meta violated the TCPA by sending unsolicited “Birthday Announcement” text messages to consumers’ cell phones. He alleged that these Birthday Announcements were sent by Meta through an autodialer that used an RSNG to store and dial the telephone numbers of the consumers being texted. The question on appeal was whether a TCPA-defined autodialer must use an RSNG to generate the telephone numbers that are dialed.   The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court’s dismissal with prejudice. The panel held that Meta did not violate the TCPA because it did not use a TCPA-defined autodialer that randomly or sequentially generated the telephone numbers in question. View "COLIN BRICKMAN V. META PLATFORMS, INC." on Justia Law

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HyreCar is an intermediary between people who own vehicles and people who would like to drive for services such as Uber and GrubHub. Before leasing a car, HyreCar sends an applicant’s information, including a photograph, to Mitek, which provides identity-verification services. Johnson, a HyreCar driver, brought a putative class action, alleging Mitek used that information without the consent required by the Illinois Biometric Privacy Act. Mitek asked the district court to send the case to arbitration, citing an Arbitration Agreement in Johnson’s contract with HyreCar, applicable to drivers, HyreCar, and “any subsidiaries, affiliates, agents, employees, predecessors in interest, successors, and assigns, as well as all authorized or unauthorized users or beneficiaries of services or goods provided under the Agreement.The district court concluded that suppliers such as Mitek were not covered. The Seventh Circuit affirmed, rejecting Mitek’s claim that it is a “beneficiary of services or goods provided under the Agreement.” The “services or goods provided under the Agreement” are vehicles. Mitek cannot be classified as a “user” of HyreCar’s services or goods. Mitek has its own contract with HyreCar, but does not have a contract with any HyreCar driver. The Federal Arbitration Act, 9 U.S.C. 2 does not change the result. The court noted that claims under the Illinois Act cannot be litigated in federal court unless the plaintiff can show concrete harm. Johnson seeks only statutory damages. Johnson’s claim must be remanded to state court. View "Johnson v. Mitek Systems, Inc." on Justia Law

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U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement contracts with CoreCivic to incarcerate detained immigrants in 24 facilities across 11 states. Plaintiffs, detained solely due to their immigration status and neither charged with, nor convicted of, any crime, alleged that the overseers of their private detention facilities forced them to perform labor against their will and without adequate compensation in violation of the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000, the California Trafficking Victims Protection Act (“California TVPA”), various provisions of the California Labor Code, and other state laws.   The Ninth Circuit filed (1) an order denying a petition for panel rehearing and, on behalf of the court, a petition for rehearing en banc; and (2) an opinion (a) amending and superceding the panel’s original opinion and (b) affirming the district court’s order certifying three classes. The panel 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 panel held that, as to the California Forced Labor Class, Plaintiffs submitted sufficient proof of a classwide policy of forced labor to establish commonality. The panel 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. Further, the panel 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 classwide policy of forced labor and that common questions predominated over individual ones. View "SYLVESTER OWINO, ET AL V. CORECIVIC, INC." on Justia Law

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Petitioner-appellant Sharlene Allen was a former employee of the San Diego Convention Center Corporation (SDCCC). After SDCCC terminated Allen, she filed a class action lawsuit against SDCCC alleging various violations of the California Labor Code. The trial court largely sustained SDCCC’s demurrer to the complaint on the grounds that the corporation was exempt from liability as a government entity. The court, however, left intact one claim for untimely payment of final wages under Labor Code sections 201, 202, and 203,1 and derivative claims under the Unfair Competition Law and the Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA). Allen then moved for class certification for her surviving causes of action. The trial court denied the motion based on Allen’s concession that her claim for untimely final payment was not viable because it was derivative of the other claims dismissed at the demurrer stage. Allen appealed the denial of the motion for class certification, which she claimed was the "death knell" of her class claims and thus, the lawsuit. She argued the trial court’s ruling on the demurrer was incorrect because SDCCC did not establish as a matter of law that it was exempt from liability. In response, SDCCC argued Allen’s appeal should have been dismissed as taken from a nonappealable order. Alternatively, SDCCC contended the trial court’s order sustaining its demurrer was correct, and the subsequent denial of class certification should be affirmed. The Court of Appeal rejected SDCCC’s assertion that the order was not appealable. However, the Court agreed that class certification was properly denied by the trial court and affirmed the order. View "Allen v. San Diego Convention Center Corp., Inc." on Justia Law

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The First Circuit vacated the approval of a class action settlement under Fed. R. Civ. P. 23(e), holding that the absence of separate settlement counsel for distinct groups of class members made too difficult a determination whether the settlement treated class members equitably.Plaintiffs sued HelloFresh, a subscription service, alleging that its so-called "win back" marketing campaign violated the Telephone Consumer Protection Act. The parties eventually arrived at a proposed settlement conditioned on court approval. The district court adopted the settlement agreement. An objector to the settlement appealed, arguing that the settlement process was unfair and led to an inequitable result. The First Circuit agreed and vacated the district court's approval, holding (1) the district court lacked the requisite basis for certifying the settlement class and approving an allocation among class members as fair, reasonable, and adequate; and (2) incentive payments to named class representatives are not prohibited so long as they fit within the bounds of Rule 23(e). View "Murray v. McDonald" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the circuit court granting summary judgment in favor of Municipal Health Benefit Fund and dismissing this class action complaint challenging the Fund's decision to deny payment for portions of Plaintiff's daughter's medical bills based on its interpretation of the uniform, customary, and reasonable charges (UCR) exclusion in the Fund's policy booklet, holding that there was no error.Through his employment with a municipal police department, Plaintiff obtained health benefits coverage through the Fund. After Plaintiff's daughter was injured in a car accident the Fund denied payment for portions of her medical bills based on its interpretation of the UCR exclusion. Plaintiff then brought this class action against the Fund challenging the enforcement of the UCR term. The circuit court granted class certification and later granted summary judgment in favor of the Fund. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the circuit court did not err in granting summary judgment in favor of the Fund. View "Hendrix v. Municipal Health Benefit Fund" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff brought this putative class action against more than twenty banks and brokers, alleging a conspiracy to manipulate two benchmark rates known as Yen-LIBOR and Euroyen TIBOR. He claimed that he was injured after purchasing and trading a Euroyen TIBOR futures contract on a U.S.-based commodity exchange because the value of that contract was based on a distorted, artificial Euroyen TIBOR. Plaintiff brought claims under the Commodity Exchange Act (“CEA”), and the Sherman Antitrust Act, and sought leave to assert claims under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (“RICO”).   The district court dismissed the CEA and antitrust claims and denied leave to add the RICO claims. Plaintiff appealed, arguing that the district court erred by holding that the CEA claims were impermissibly extraterritorial, that he lacked antitrust standing to assert a Sherman Act claim, and that he failed to allege proximate causation for his proposed RICO claims.   The Second Circuit affirmed. The court explained that fraudulent submissions to an organization based in London that set a benchmark rate related to a foreign currency—occurred almost entirely overseas. Here Plaintiff failed to allege any significant acts that took place in the United States. Plaintiff’s CEA claims are based predominantly on foreign conduct and are thus impermissibly extraterritorial. As such, the district court also correctly concluded that Plaintiff lacked antitrust standing because he would not be an efficient enforcer of the antitrust laws. Finally, Plaintiff failed to allege proximate causation for his RICO claims. View "Laydon v. Coöperatieve Rabobank U.A., et al." on Justia Law

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In the 1950s, DuPont began discharging C-8—a “forever” chemical that accumulates in the human body and the environment—into the Ohio River, landfills, and the air surrounding its West Virginia plant. By the 1960s, DuPont learned that C-8 is toxic to animals and, by the 1980s, that it is potentially a human carcinogen. DuPont’s discharges increased until 2000. Evidence subsequently confirmed that C-8 caused several diseases among those drinking the contaminated water. In a class action lawsuit, DuPont promised to treat the affected water and to fund a scientific process concerning the impact of C-8 exposure. A panel of scientists conducted an approximately seven-year epidemiological study of the blood samples and medical records of more than 69,000 affected community members, while the litigation was paused. The settlement limited the claims that could be brought against DuPont based on the study’s determination of which diseases prevalent in the communities were likely linked to C-8 exposure. The resulting cases were consolidated in multidistrict litigation. After two bellwether trials and a post-bellwether trial reached verdicts against DuPont, the parties settled the remaining cases.More class members filed suit when they became sick or discovered the connection between their diseases and C-8. In this case, the Sixth Circuit affirmed the application of collateral estoppel to specific issues that were unanimously resolved in the three prior jury trials, the exclusion of certain evidence based on the initial settlement agreement, and rejection of DuPont’s statute-of-limitations defense.. View "Abbott v. E. I. du Pont de Nemours & Co." on Justia Law