Articles Posted in Class Action

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The en banc court reviewed five consolidated appeals from the district court's orders and judgment certifying a nationwide settlement class, approving a settlement, and awarding attorney's fees in a multidistrict litigation brought against automakers regarding alleged misrepresentations about their vehicles' fuel economy. After class counsel and the settling parties negotiated a settlement that the district court approved, objectors challenged the certification order and fee awards. The en banc court affirmed and held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in finding that common issues predominated where the inclusion of used car purchasers in the class did not defeat predominance and variations in state law did not defeat predominance. The en banc court rejected challenges to the adequacy of the class and held that the notice to class members provided sufficient information; the claim forms were not overly burdensome; and there was no evidence of collusion between class counsel and the automakers. Finally, the en banc court held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying fees. View "Ahearn v. Hyundai Motor America" on Justia Law

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A class must be decertified when the class representatives are found to lack standing as to their individual claims. The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's order decertifying a class of persons alleging that Hanson violated California Penal Code 632, which prohibits the unauthorized connection to or recording of confidential communications. The panel held that NEI, as the class representative, lacked standing to bring its claim against Hanson. Furthermore, because NEI failed to challenge the district court's standing determination, it waived its right to challenge that determination. Finally, neither mootness exception raised by NEI stands for the proposition that a class can be certified if the class representative lacked standing as to its individual claim. View "NEI Contracting and Engineering, Inc. v. Hanson Aggregates Pacific Southwest, Inc." on Justia Law

Posted in: Class Action

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The settlement agreement—and in particular, the intent of the settling parties—determines the preclusive effect of the previous action. The settlement agreement in this case released plaintiff's and the class's claims against various parties, but it explicitly did not release any claims against Kohlberg. The Ninth Circuit held that, because the settlement specifically did not release plaintiff's and the class's claims against Kohlberg, claim preclusion did not bar plaintiff's current claim. Therefore, the district court erred by dismissing the action on claim preclusion grounds. The panel reversed and remanded for further proceedings. View "Wojciechowski v. Kohlberg Ventures, LLC" on Justia Law

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Ten children in the Arizona foster care system filed a class action against the directors of the Arizona Department of Child Safety and the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System, alleging that Arizona's state-wide policies and practices deprived them of required medical services, among other things, and thus subjected them to a substantial risk of harm. After the district court certified a class of all children who are or will be in the Department of Child Safety's custody, along with two subclasses, the agencies appealed. The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's certification of the General Class and held that the district court did not err or abuse its discretion in its rulings on standing, commonality, typicality, and uniform injunctive relief. The panel also affirmed the district court's certification of the Non-Kinship Subclass, but vacated the Medicaid Subclass. The panel held that the district court abused its discretion by certifying the Medicaid Subclass based on an apparent misconception of the legal framework for such a claim. Accordingly, the panel remanded for further proceedings. View "B.K. v. Snyder" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of non-class counsel's motions for attorneys' fees arising from a class action settlement over claims regarding Volkswagen's use of defeat devices in certain vehicles. The panel held that law firms and lawyers that appealed in their own names had standing to challenge the fee order, because they suffered an injury (deprivation of attorneys' fees) that was caused by the conduct complained of (the fee order) and would be redressed by judicial relief. The panel also held that, because the underlying class action did not feature a traditional common fund from which attorneys' fees were procured, appellants could only have collected fees if they provided a substantial benefit to the class. In this case, the district court did not abuse its discretion in determining that appellants did not and denying the fee motions on this basis. Finally, the panel rejected additional arguments by the Nagel Appellants and held that Appellant Feinman's challenge was moot. View "In re Volkswagen "Clean Diesel" Marketing, Sales Practices, and Productions Liability Litigation" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's order granting plaintiffs' motion to remand to state court under the Class Action Fairness Act (CAFA). The panel held that this is essentially a dispute between those who use the Golden Gate Bridge to travel between Marin County, California and San Francisco, California, and defendants who are charged with operating the bridge on behalf of the State of California. The panel held that the district court properly ruled that the case against Conduent, the toll collector, belongs in state court with the California entities that manage the bridge's maintenance and operation. View "Kendrick v. Conduent State and Local Solutions, Inc." on Justia Law

Posted in: Class Action

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Objecting class members challenged the district court's approval of a class action settlement over claims alleging that defendants enrolled consumers in a membership rewards program without their consent and then mishandled their billing information. The Ninth Circuit vacated the fee award and held that the district court failed to treat credits as coupons under the Class Action Fairness Act when calculating the award. The panel held, however, that the district court did not abuse its discretion by approving the use of cy pres in this case or to approve the particular recipients. Finally, it was unnecessary to reverse the entire settlement approval in conjunction with the panel's vacatur of the fee award. The panel remanded the award of attorney's fees but otherwise affirmed the settlement. View "Romero v. Provide Commerce, Inc." on Justia Law

Posted in: Class Action

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Plaintiffs, current and former Uber drivers, filed putative class actions alleging that Uber violated various federal and state statutes by, among other things, misclassifying drivers as independent contractors rather than employees. The Ninth Circuit previously considered and reversed the district court's orders denying Uber's motions to compel arbitration in Mohamed v. Uber Technologies, Inc., 848 F.3d 1201, 1206 (9th Cir. 2016). In this case, the panel rejected plaintiffs' additional arguments as to why the arbitration agreements were unenforceable. Because the class certification by the district court was premised on the district court's determination that the arbitration agreements were unenforceable, the panel reversed class certification. The panel also held that the Rule 23(d) orders were based on the district court’s denial of the motions to compel arbitration and its granting of class certification. Because these decisions must be reversed, there was no longer a basis for the district court's restrictions on Uber's communication with class and putative class members. Therefore, these orders were moot and the panel reversed. View "O'Connor v. Uber" on Justia Law

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GAC appealed the district court's remand of plaintiff's putative class action to Los Angeles Superior Court. The Ninth Circuit held that the district court erroneously found that more than two-thirds of the putative class members were citizens of California at the time of removal. Therefore, the panel vacated the district court's remand to state court and remanded to federal district court for further proceedings. In district court, plaintiff should be permitted to conduct jurisdictional discovery in this matter and to renew her motion to remand. View "King v. Great American Chicken Corp, Inc." on Justia Law

Posted in: Class Action

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Washington public school teachers filed a class action to order the Director of DRS to return interest that was allegedly skimmed from their state-managed retirement accounts. The Ninth Circuit reversed the district court's denial of a stipulated motion to certify a class and dismissal of the action as prudentially unripe. The panel held that the district court erred in dismissing the teachers' takings claim as prudentially unripe because DRS's withholding of the interest accrued on the teachers' accounts constitutes a per se taking to which the prudential ripeness test in Williamson County Regional Planning Commission v. Hamilton Bank of Johnson City, 473 U.S. 172 (1985), did not apply. In regard to the Director's alternative grounds for summary judgment, the panel held that plaintiffs stated a takings claim for daily interest withheld by the Director; the panel clarified that the core property right recognized in Schneider v. California Department of Corrections, 151 F.3d 1194 (9th Cir. 1988), covered interest earned daily, even if payable less frequently; plaintiffs' takings claim was not barred by issue preclusion or by the Rooker-Feldman doctrine; and the takings claim was not foreclosed by the Eleventh Amendment. The panel also held that the district court erred in denying the motion for class certification. Accordingly, the panel remanded for further proceedings. View "Fowler v. Guerin" on Justia Law