Justia U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Class Action

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Plaintiffs, seeking to represent a class of service technicians, filed suit against his employer, Hobart, and its parent company, ITW, alleging that Hobart did not compensate its technicians for the time they spent commuting in Hobart’s service vehicles from their homes to their job sites and from those job sites back home, and that Hobart failed to provide its technicians with meal and rest breaks. The district court denied the class certification and granted partial summary judgment to defendants. The district court also determined that plaintiff did not comply with the notice requirements of California’s Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA), Cal. Lab. Code 2698 et seq. The court concluded that the district court erred in denying class certification because it evaluated the merits rather than focusing on whether the questions presented - meritorious or not - were common to the class; the district court did not abuse its discretion in concluding that the proposed class failed to meet the requirements of Rule 23(b) because questions as to why service technicians missed their meal and rest breaks would predominate over questions common to the class; in regard to plaintiff's commute-time claim, the court concluded that there was a genuine dispute of material fact as to whether Hobart requires technicians to use its vehicles for their commute; and the district court properly dismissed the PAGA claim because plaintiff's letter is insufficient to allow the Labor and Workforce Development Agency to intelligently assess the seriousness of the alleged violations. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded. View "Alcantar v. Hobart Service" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against First American, seeking to represent a class of similarly-situated home buyers and alleging that First American engaged in a national scheme of paying the title agencies things of value in exchange for the title agencies’ agreement to refer future title insurance business to First American, in violation of the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA), 12 U.S.C. 2601–2617. The district court denied plaintiff's motion for class certification. The court concluded that section 2607(c)(2) cannot apply to First American’s transactions as a matter of law, so the district court erred in relying on section 2607(c)(2) to determine the propriety of class certification. The district court erred in concluding that the common issue does not predominate over individual issues for the proposed class members. Here, plaintiffs contends that First American utilized a nationwide scheme of buying minority interests in the title agencies in order to secure remittance streams from the agencies’ future referrals. This common scheme, if true, presents a significant aspect of First American’s transactions that warrant class adjudication: Whether First American paid a thing of value to get its agreement for exclusive referrals. Therefore, the court vacated the district court’s denial of class certification in part as to these transactions that involved the common scheme presented to First American’s board of directors. The court also concluded that, even if other service providers may have also influenced the home buyers’ decision to choose First American, there remains a predominant, common question of whether the title agencies’ contractual obligations affirmatively influenced the home buyer’s choice of First American. First American's transactions with the newly-formed agencies at issue do not share common questions of fact between First American and the transactions with the preexisting title agencies and thus do not require common proof to resolve the validity of each of the class members’ claims. The court affirmed the district court’s denial of class certification in part as to the newly-formed title agencies, vacated the district court’s denial of class certification in part as to the remaining title agencies, and remanded for further proceedings. View "Edwards v. The First American Corp." on Justia Law
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The district court, in evaluating whether it had jurisdiction under the Class Action Fairness Act of 2005, 28 U.S.C. 1332(d), over the removed action, analyzed this consolidated case as though it remained two separate class actions, and concluded that CAFA’s local controversy exception applied to the first-filed class action, Bridewell-Sledge v. Blue Cross of California, but that the exception did not apply to the second-filed class action, Crowder v. Blue Cross of California. The court held that it was improper for the district court to view Bridewell-Sledge and Crowder as two separate class actions after they had been consolidated by the state court. In this case, the Bridewell-Sledge/Crowder consolidated class action should have been viewed by the district court as a single class action when evaluating jurisdiction under CAFA. Once it is recognized that the two cases became one, it is clear that CAFA’s local controversy exception applies to the consolidated class action, and, therefore, the district court was required to remand the entire Bridewell-Sledge/Crowder consolidated class action to state court. View "Bridewell-Sledge v. Blue Cross of CA" on Justia Law
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Plaintiffs alleged in five separate tort cases that they, or the deceased individuals they represent, suffered from pancreatic cancer due to their use of incretin-based therapies for diabetes, including those developed by Defendant Merck and other defendant drug companies. Merck removed to federal court under the Class Action Fairness Act, 28 U.S.C. 1332(d)(11)(A), (B), and plaintiffs moved to remand the cases. The district court denied the motions for remand and subsequent motions for reconsideration. The court held, however, that plaintiffs' petitions for permission to appeal removal to federal court were timely because a timely motion for reconsideration of an order denying or granting a motion for remand under 28 U.S.C. 1453(c)(1) restarts the ten-day period during which a party may file a petition for permission to appeal. The court further held that in none of the five cases did plaintiffs propose that the claims of one hundred or more persons be tried jointly and therefore, the cases do not constitute a mass action under CAFA. Accordingly, the court reversed and remanded with instructions to grant plaintiffs' motions to remand. View "Briggs v. Merck Sharp & Dohme" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against Arch based upon allegations of numerous violations by Arch of the California Labor Code. On appeal, plaintiff challenged the denial of her motion to remand this matter to the Superior Court after Arch removed it pursuant to the provisions of the Class Action Fairness Act of 2005 (CAFA), 28 U.S.C. 1446, 1453(b). The court reversed the district court's determination that it had diversity jurisdiction over the action and remanded. The court held that where a plaintiff files an action containing class claims as well as non-class claims, and the class claims do not meet the CAFA amount-in-controversy requirement while the nonclass claims, standing alone, do not meet diversity of citizenship jurisdiction requirements, the amount involved in the non-class claims cannot be used to satisfy the CAFA jurisdictional amount, and the CAFA diversity provisions cannot be invoked to give the district court jurisdiction over the non-class claims. View "Yocupicio v. PAE Grp." on Justia Law
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Plaintiffs filed suit against the defendant companies, alleging that they engaged in illegal debt collection practices in the course of carrying out non-judicial foreclosures. Defendants removed the action to federal district court under the Class Action Fairness Act (CAFA), 28 U.S.C. 1332(d), 1453, 1711. The district court subsequently dismissed the complaint under Rule 12(b)(6). The court concluded that that Sparta Surgical Corporation v. NASD does not apply in the present circumstances and that the district court abused its discretion in denying plaintiffs leave to amend. The court's holding, that plaintiffs should be permitted to amend a complaint after removal to clarify issues pertaining to federal jurisdiction under CAFA, is necessary in light of Coleman v. Estes Express Lines, Inc. In this case, a class of exclusively Nevada plaintiffs has filed suit against six defendants, one of which is Nevada domiciled; the alleged misconduct took place exclusively in the state of Nevada; and the one Nevada domiciled defendant was allegedly responsible for between 15–20 percent of the wrongs alleged by the entire class. Therefore, the court concluded that plaintiffs have met their burden to show that this case qualifies for the “local controversy exception.” Accordingly, the court reversed and vacated the district court's judgment, remanding with instructions. View "Benko v. Quality Loan Serv. Corp." on Justia Law
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Appellants, objectors to a class action settlement between day laborers and Labor Ready, appealed the district court’s final approval of the settlement, as well as the district court’s denial of their motion to intervene. The court affirmed the district court’s decision to deny Objectors’ untimely motion to intervene because it was filed after four years of ongoing litigation, on the eve of the settlement, and threatened to prejudice settling parties by potentially derailing settlement talks. The court vacated the final approval and remanded to the district court so that it can conduct a “more searching inquiry into the fairness of the negotiated distribution of funds in light of In re Bluetooth Headset Products Liab. Litig., as well as consider the substantive reasonableness of the attorneys’ fee request in light of the degree of success attained.” View "Allen v. Bedolla" on Justia Law
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In 2013, Plaintiffs filed an action against the Boeing Company and Landau Associates (Landau) in a Washington state court alleging that from the 1960s to the present years Boeing released toxins into the groundwater around its facility in Auburn, Washington and that for over a decade Landau, Boeing’s environmental-remediation contractor, had been negligent in its investigation and remediation of the pollution. Based on these allegations, Plaintiffs asserted state law claims of negligence, nuisance, and trespass. Boeing removed the action to a federal district court based on diversity jurisdiction and the Class Action Fairness Act (CAFA). The district court remanded the case to state court, concluding (1) contrary to Boeing’s allegations, Landau was not fraudulently joined, and thus there was not complete diversity; and (2) Plaintiffs’ action came within the local single event exception to CAFA federal jurisdiction. The Ninth Circuit vacated and remanded, holding (1) the district court correctly determined that Boeing failed to show that Landau was fraudulently joined; but (2) Plaintiffs’ action does not come within the local single event exception to CAFA, and therefore, the district court has federal jurisdiction under CAFA. Remanded. View "Allen v. Boeing Co." on Justia Law

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Thirteen inmates in custody throughout the Arizona prison system brought a class action suit against senior officials in the Arizona Department of Corrections alleging that they were subjected to systemic Eighth Amendment violations. The district court certified a class consisting of 33,000 prisoners incarcerated in the Arizona prison system, concluding that the putative class and subclass of inmates satisfied the requirements of class certification set forth in Fed. R. Civ. P. 23. A panel of the Ninth Circuit affirmed, holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion in concluding that Plaintiffs satisfied Rule 23(a)(2). The panel subsequently voted to deny the petition for rehearing en banc. Judge Ikuta filed a dissent from the denial of rehearing en banc concurrently with this order, arguing that all members of this diverse class of prisoners did not have an Eighth Amendment claim, alone a common claim, and therefore the certification ran afoul of Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. Dukes, Lewis v. Casey, and the Supreme Court’s Eighth Amendment jurisprudence. View "Parsons v. Ryan" on Justia Law

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In 2011, Eminence Investors, LLLP (Plaintiff) brought suit against against The Bank of New York Mellon (Defendant). Nearly two years later, Plaintiff filed an amended complaint adding class allegations on behalf of more than 100 class members and requesting compensatory damages expected to exceed $10 million. Within thirty days of the filing of the complaint, Defendant removed the action to federal court pursuant to the Class Action Fairness Act (CAFA). Plaintiff moved to remand the case to state court. The district court remanded the case to state court, concluding that removal was untimely. Defendant appealed. A panel of the Ninth Circuit dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction the appeal, holding that the securities exception from CAFA removal applied to this case. View "Eminence Investors, LLLP v. Bank of New York Mellon" on Justia Law