Justia U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Class Action

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This dispute centers around Lexis’s sale of personal data reports to debt collectors. Plaintiffs alleged that Lexis failed to provide the protections of the Fair Credit Reporting Act, 15 U.S.C. 1681, et seq., in connection with its reports. The district court subsequently certified a settlement class. In this appeal, a group of class members claim the right to opt out of the settlement class and pursue statutory damages individually seeking to undo that settlement. At issue is the the (b)(2) Class, which includes all individuals in the United States about whom the Accurint database contained information from November 2006 to April 2013 – roughly 200 million people. The court affirmed the district court's decision, finding no error in the release of the statutory damages claims as part of a Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(b)(2) settlement, and no abuse of discretion in the district court’s approval of the settlement agreement. View "Berry v. LexisNexis Risk and Info." on Justia Law
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In this putative class action, plaintiffs are a class of black steel workers who allege endemic racial discrimination at a South Carolina plant owned by Nucor. At issue was whether the workers have presented a common question of employment discrimination through evidence of racism in the workplace. In light of the Supreme Court's opinion in Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. Dukes, the district court on remand refused to certify the class. The court held that the district court has for a second time erred in refusing to certify the workers’ class, where (1) statistics indicate that promotions at Nucor depended in part on whether an individual was black or white; (2) substantial anecdotal evidence suggests discrimination in specific promotions decisions in multiple plant departments; and (3) there is also significant evidence that those promotions decisions were made in the context of a racially hostile work environment. The court concluded that the district court fundamentally misapprehended the reach of Wal-mart and its application to the workers' promotions class. Accordingly, the court vacated in part and remanded for recertification of the class. View "Brown v. Nucor Corp." on Justia Law

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This appeal arose from the district court's decision to certify five related class action suits where plaintiffs in each case generally alleged that EQT and CNX have unlawfully deprived the class members of royalty payments from the production of coalbed methane gas (CBM) in Virginia. The court granted defendants' petition to appeal the five orders granting class certification and concluded that the district court abused its discretion when it certified the five classes. The court held that the district court's analysis lacked the requisite rigor to ensure that the requirements of Rule 23 were satisfied by any of the certified classes. Accordingly, the court vacated and remanded for further proceedings. View "EQT Production Co. v. Adair" on Justia Law
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Plaintiffs filed suit in state court alleging that Quicken Loans originated unlawful loans in West Virginia and that Defendant Appraisers, which included both the named appraisers and the unnamed class of appraisers, were complicit in the scheme. Quicken Loans removed to federal court under the Class Action Fairness Act (CAFA), 28 U.S.C. 1332(d). The district court then granted plaintiffs' motion to remand to state court under the local controversy exception. Quicken Loans appealed. The court vacated and remanded for a determination by the district court as to whether the named defendant appraisers satisfied the "at least 1 defendant" requirement of the local controversy exception. View "Quicken Loans Inc. v. Alig" on Justia Law

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A putative class of female former and current managers of Family Dollar stores filed suit alleging violations under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. 2000e, and Section 216(b) of the Equal Pay Act of 1963, 29 U.S.C. 206(d). The court found that the district court's denial of leave to amend the complaint was based on an erroneous interpretation of Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. Dukes, and the denial was thus an abuse of discretion. Without resolving the class certification issue, the court reversed and remanded for the district court to consider whether, based on the court's interpretation of Wal-Mart, the proposed amended complaint satisfied the class certification requirements of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23. View "Scott v. Family Dollar Stores, Inc." on Justia Law

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This case concerned a class action filed against defendants for contamination of plaintiffs' properties by gasoline and a gasoline additive (the Koch action). Former Koch class members subsequently filed a new class action (the Ackerman action). On appeal, defendants challenged the district court's order abstaining from exercising jurisdiction under the Colorado River doctrine. The court held that 28 U.S.C. 1446(d) affected only the jurisdiction of the state court only with regard to the case actually removed to federal court; because Koch was not removed, the state court maintained jurisdiction over it, and the amendment to the complaint in that case was not void ab initio; and the district court was correct to consider the amended Koch complaint in determining whether the Koch and Ackerman actions were parallel, and the district court did not abuse its discretion when concluding that exceptional circumstances warranted abstention in favor of the pending Koch action. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's judgment. View "Ackerman v. ExxonMobil Corp." on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs commenced this putative class action alleging that defendants participated in a global Internet conspiracy to sell illegal prescription drugs, in violation of the laws of the United States and Virginia. At issue on appeal was whether the district court erred in dismissing the complaint against four foreign banks for lack of personal jurisdiction. The court concluded that Rule 4(k)(2) did not justify the exercise of personal jurisdiction over the banks because exercising jurisdiction over them would not, in the circumstances here, be consistent with the United States Constitution and laws. Subjecting the banks to the coercive power of the court in the United States, in the absence of minimum contacts, would constitute a violation of the Due Process Clause. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's orders dismissing the complaint against the banks. View "Unspam Technologies v. Chernuk" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs, thirteenth North Carolina residents who lost access to in-home personal care services (PCS) due to a statutory change, brought suit challenging the new PCS program. The district court granted plaintiffs' motions for a preliminary injunction and class certification. Defendants appealed, raising several points of error. The court agreed with the district court's conclusion that a preliminary injunction was appropriate in this case. The court held, however, that the district court's order failed to comply with Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 65 because it lacked specificity and because the district court neglected to address the issue of security. Accordingly, the court remanded the case. View "Pashby v. Delia" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs brought this civil enforcement action under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA), 29 U.S.C. 1001 et seq., alleging that defendants, the Bank, and individual members of the Bank's Corporate Benefits Committee, engaged in prohibited transactions and breached their fiduciary duties by selecting and maintaining Bank-affiliated mutual funds in the investment menu for the Bank's 401(k) Plan and the Bank's separate but related Pension Plan (collectively, the Plans). The court affirmed the district court's dismissal of the Pension Plan claims in the Second Amended Complaint on the basis that plaintiffs lacked Article III standing. The district court correctly determined that plaintiffs' remaining claims were time-barred under the limitations period in 29 U.S.C. 1113(1)(A). Finally, the district court's dismissal of the Third Amended Complaint with prejudice did not constitute an abuse of discretion where plaintiffs failed to file a motion to amend and had already amended their original complaint three times. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court. View "David v. Alphin" on Justia Law

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LG Display sought to appeal the district court's rejection of their assertions of federal court jurisdiction under the Class Action Fairness Act of 2005 (CAFA), 28 U.S.C. 1332. South Carolina initiated these cases in state court, alleging violations of the State's Antitrust Act and its Unfair Trade Practices Act (SCUTPA), S.C. Code 39-3-130, -180. The court concluded that CAFA's minimal diversity requirement was not satisfied in either of these cases, and the district court properly remanded them to state court. Accordingly, the petitions for appeal of LG Display were granted and the Remanded Decisions were affirmed. View "AU Optronics Corp. v. State of South Carolina" on Justia Law