Articles Posted in Class Action

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Speaks Plaintiffs filed a class action against the Cooperative, seeking a declaratory judgment, distribution of the reserve funds to members, and judicial dissolution of the Cooperative as an alternative form of relief. Speaks Plaintiffs argued that after Congress enacted the Fair and Equitable Tobacco Reform Act (FETRA) and the price-support program ended, the Cooperative's primary purpose ceased to exist, and it should be forced to distribute the reserve funds and be judicially dissolved. The parties eventually mediated the case and the district court certified the class, approving a settlement. In this appeal, Fisher-Lewis class members, and would-be intervenor Dan Lewis, objected to the Speaks settlement. The Fourth Circuit dismissed Lewis' appeal for lack of jurisdiction, holding that Lewis filed his appeal far beyond the 30-day deadline prescribed by statute. The court affirmed the district court's denial of the attempted group opt-out. However, the court could not agree with the district court that the objectors' interests were adequately protected or that the settlement was fair, reasonable, and adequate for the class. Accordingly, the court reversed the district court's order certifying the class and granting final approval of the class-action settlement, remanding for further proceedings. View "Speaks v. U.S. Tobacco Cooperative Inc." on Justia Law

Posted in: Class Action

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Optometrists across the country noticed that Chase Amazon Visa credit card accounts had been fraudulently opened in their names, using correct social security numbers and birthdates. The victims discussed the thefts in Facebook groups dedicated to optometrists and determined that the only common source to which they had given their personal information was NBEO, where every graduating optometry student submits personal information to sit for board-certifying exams. NBEO released a Facebook statement that its “information systems [had] NOT been compromised.” Two days later, NBEO stated that it had decided to further investigate. Three weeks later, NBEO posted “a cryptic message stating its internal review was still ongoing.” NBEO advised the victims to “remain vigilant in checking their credit.” Victims filed suit under the Class Action Fairness Act, 28 U.S.C. 1332(d)(2). The district court dismissed for lack of standing. The Fourth Circuit vacated. These plaintiffs allege that they have already suffered actual harm in the form of identity theft and credit card fraud; they have been concretely injured by the use or attempted use of their personal information to open credit card accounts without their knowledge or approval. There is no need to speculate on whether substantial harm will occur. The complaints contain allegations demonstrating that it is both plausible and likely that a breach of NBEO’s database resulted in the fraudulent use of the plaintiffs’ personal information. View "Hutton v. National Board of Examiners in Optometry, Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed a putative class action against Saber, alleging that defendants failed to deliver contractually promised care and failed to comply with certain state law requirements. After removal to federal court, the district court granted plaintiffs' motion to remand to state court based on the forum selection clause in plaintiffs' contracts. The Fourth Circuit vacated and remanded for further proceedings and factual development on the question of whether all of the defendants were bound by the forum selection clause contained in the contracts executed by plaintiffs. In this case, although the plain language of the forum selection clause precluded removal, a question remains as to whether all of the defendants were alter egos or otherwise bound by the clause. View "Bartels v. Saber Healthcare Group, LLC" on Justia Law

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Dart Cherokee Basin Operating Co., LLC v. Owens, 135 S. Ct. 547 (2014), did not undermine Palisades Collections LLC v. Shorts, 552 F.3d 327, 331 (4th Cir. 2008). In this case, Home Depot filed a Petition for Permission to Appeal the district court's order remanding to state court. The Fourth Circuit deferred ruling on the petition pending consideration of the merits of the appeal. The court held that the Supreme Court has not called into question Palisades's conclusion that an additional counter-defendant is not entitled to remove under 28 U.S.C. 1441(a) or 1453(b), nor has it abandoned Shamrock Oil’s definition of "defendant" in the class action context. See Shamrock Oil & Gas Corp. v. Sheets, 313 U.S. 100, 108 (1941). The court held that Palisades applied to Home Depot. The court also held that the district court properly declined to realign the parties and correctly remanded to state court. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. . View "Jackson v. Home Depot U.S.A., Inc." on Justia Law

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After Cricket removed this class action from state court by invoking Class Action Fairness Act (CAFA), 28 U.S.C. 1332(d), jurisdiction, the district court granted plaintiff's motion to remand. The court vacated and remanded, holding that the district court applied the wrong legal standard to Cricket's evidence. The court explained that, because the district court committed legal error in disregarding Cricket's evidence as overinclusive, the court was unable to engage in appellate review to determine whether Cricket met its burden to prove jurisdiction. View "Scott v. Cricket Communications, LLC" on Justia Law

Posted in: Class Action

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A California nonprofit mutual benefit corporation, Abella, sought relief from the enforcement of a final class action judgment against MI Windows entered in this multidistrict litigation. The district court rejected Abella's arguments that the district court lacked authority to enjoin its prosecution of the state action against MI Windows and that Abella should not be bound by the class action judgment because of the excusable neglect of its counsel in overlooking the opt-out deadline. The Fourth Circuit affirmed and held that the district court's injunction was justified by the "relitigation exception" of the Anti-Injunction Act, 28 U.S.C. 2283, and that the district court did not abuse its discretion in concluding that the neglect of Abella's counsel was not excusable. View "Abella Owners’ Ass'n v. MI Windows & Doors, Inc." on Justia Law

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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

Posted in: Class Action

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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

Posted in: Class Action

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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