Justia U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Class Action
Murphy v. SFBSC Management
The Ninth Circuit reversed the district court's approval of a settlement notice process and a class action settlement, negotiated without a certified class, in a case arising out of a dispute under federal and California labor law regarding whether exotic dancers working at various nightclubs in San Francisco were misclassified as independent contractors rather than being treated as employees. The panel held that the settlement notice did not meet Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23's "best notice that is practicable under the circumstances" standard. The panel also held that the district court abused its discretion in approving the settlement, because the district court applied an incorrect legal standard and failed to employ the heightened scrutiny required to meet the strict procedural burden the panel imposed for assessing class settlements negotiated prior to class certification. The panel also reversed the district court's award of attorneys' fees, and remanded for further proceedings. View "Murphy v. SFBSC Management" on Justia Law
Johnson v. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios, Inc.
Plaintiff challenged the district court's attorneys' fee award, arguing that the entire award was arbitrary because the district court did not adequately explain its decision to cut the number of hours expended by class counsel by 25%. The underlying class action was brought by plaintiff on behalf of a nationwide class of consumers, alleging that defendants marketed James Bond DVD and Blu-ray sets as containing all the Bonds films, when in fact they failed to include two movies. The parties settled and the settlement agreement included defendants' agreement to pay attorneys' fees and cost. The Ninth Circuit affirmed the attorneys' fee award, holding that the district court's order, when read in its entirety, explained the lodestar calculation it conducted and its application of the percentage-of-recovery analysis as a cross-check for reasonableness. Therefore, the panel found that the district court adequately explained its reasoning and did not abuse its discretion. View "Johnson v. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios, Inc." on Justia Law
Willis v. City of Seattle
The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of class certification in an action challenging the procedures that the City and WSDOT uses to remove unauthorized encampments, camping equipment, and personal property left on city-owned property. Plaintiffs alleged that defendants engaged in a practice of "sweeps" that destroyed property, and violated the unreasonable seizure and due process clauses of the federal and state constitutions. The panel held that plaintiffs failed to proffer sufficient evidence and articulate a practice that was common to the claims of the proposed class in their motion for class certification. In this case, there was no evidence that every plaintiff has experienced the same challenged practice or suffered the same injury due to the implementation of the guidelines at issue. Therefore, the district court did not abuse its discretion in holding that an alleged practice affecting each of the plaintiffs was not discernible from the record and denying certification. View "Willis v. City of Seattle" on Justia Law
Alessi v. Mayweather
The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of class actions in MDL brought by plaintiffs against boxers and promoters, alleging that defendants concealed a pre-existing injury to boxer Emmanuel "Manny" Pacquiao, and that plaintiffs would not have purchased tickets to watch the fight had they known of the injury. The panel held that spectators who were disappointed in a sporting event did not suffer a legal cognizable injury. The panel also held that plaintiffs essentially got what they paid for -- a full-length regulation fight between two boxing legends. In this case, Pacquiao’s shoulder condition did not prevent him from going the full twelve rounds, the maximum number permitted for professional boxing contests. View "Alessi v. Mayweather" on Justia Law
Argelia Arias v. Residence Inn by Marriott
Plaintiff filed a putative class action against Marriott in state court, alleging that Marriott failed to compensate its employees for wages and missed meal breaks and failed to issue accurate itemized wage statements. Marriott then removed to federal court under the Class Action Fairness Act (CAFA). The Ninth Circuit vacated the district court's sua sponte remand to state court, affirming three principles that apply in CAFA removal cases. First, a removing defendant's notice of removal need not contain evidentiary submissions but only plausible allegations of the jurisdictional elements. Second, when a defendant's allegations of removal jurisdiction are challenged, the defendant's showing on the amount in controversy may rely on reasonable assumptions. Third, when a statute or contract provides for the recovery of attorneys' fees, prospective attorneys' fees must be included in the assessment of the amount in controversy. Accordingly, the panel remanded for further proceedings in this case to allow the parties to present evidence and argument on the amount in controversy. View "Argelia Arias v. Residence Inn by Marriott" on Justia Law
Senne v. Kansas City Royals Baseball
Current and former minor league baseball players brought claims under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and the wage-and-hour laws of California, Arizona, and Florida against MLB defendants, alleging that defendants did not pay the players at all during spring training, extended spring training, or the instructional leagues. On appeal, the players challenged the district court's denial of class certification for the Arizona, Florida, and Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(b)(2) classes, and defendants petitioned to appeal the certification of the California class. The Ninth Circuit held that the district court did not err in holding, under Sullivan v. Oracle Corp., that California law should apply to the 23(b)(3) California class. However, the district court erred in determining that choice-of-law considerations defeated predominance and adequacy for the proposed Arizona and Florida Rule 23(b)(3) classes. In this case, the district court fundamentally misunderstood the proper application of California's choice-of-law principles—which, when correctly applied, indicate that Arizona law should govern the Arizona class, and Florida law the Florida class. The panel also held that the district court erred in refusing to certify a Rule 23(b)(2) class for unpaid work at defendants' training facilities in Arizona and Florida on the sole basis that choice-of-law issues undermined "cohesiveness" and therefore made injunctive and declaratory relief inappropriate. Furthermore, the district court erred in imposing a "cohesiveness" requirement for the proposed Rule 23(b)(2) class. The panel held that the predominance requirement was met as to the Arizona and Florida classes, covering alleged minimum wage violations based on the lack of any pay for time spent participating in spring training, extended spring training, and instructional leagues. In regard to the California class -- covering overtime and minimum wage claims relating to work performed during the championship season -- the panel also held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in concluding that defendant's uniform pay policy, the team schedules, and representative evidence established predominance. The panel rejected defendants' contention that the district court was required to rigorously analyze the Main Survey. The panel affirmed the district court's certification of the FLSA collective action. Applying Campbell v. City of L.A., which postdated the district court's ruling, the panel held that the district court's use of the ad hoc approach was harmless error. The panel also affirmed the district court's certification of the FLSA collective as to plaintiffs' overtime claims. Accordingly, the panel affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded for further proceedings. View "Senne v. Kansas City Royals Baseball" on Justia Law
Patel v. Facebook, Inc.
The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's order certifying a class of Facebook users who alleged that Facebook's facial-recognition technology violated Illinois's Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA). The panel held that plaintiffs have alleged a concrete and particularized harm that was sufficient to confer Article III standing where the statutory provisions at issue were established to protect plaintiffs' concrete interests in privacy, not merely procedural rights. In this case, the development of a face template using facial-recognition technology without consent invades an individual’s private affairs and concrete interests. The panel held that the district court did not abuse its discretion by certifying the class; Illinois's extraterritoriality doctrine did not preclude the district court from finding predominance; and the district court did not abuse its discretion in determining that a class action was superior to individual actions. View "Patel v. Facebook, Inc." on Justia Law
Ehrman v. Cox Communications, Inc.
Under the Class Action Fairness Act (CAFA), removing defendants need only provide a short and plain statement of the grounds for removal; and when a defendant's allegations of citizenship are unchallenged, nothing more is required. The Ninth Circuit reversed and remanded the district court's order remanding to state court an action removed to federal court under the Class Action Fairness Act. The panel held that plaintiff did not factually challenge defendants' jurisdictional allegations and thus defendants need not provide evidence of either plaintiff's or the purported class members' citizenship. Therefore, the panel held that defendants' jurisdictional allegations, which provided a short and plain statement of the parties' citizenship based on information and belief, satisfied defendants' burden of pleading minimal diversity. View "Ehrman v. Cox Communications, Inc." on Justia Law
Huu Nguyen v. Nissan North America, Inc.
The Ninth Circuit reversed the district court's denial of class certification in an action brought by plaintiff against Nissan, under state and federal warranty laws, arising from an allegedly faulty hydraulic clutch system in plaintiff's 2012 Nissan vehicle. The panel held that, following Comcast Corp. v. Behrend, 569 U.S. 27 (2013), plaintiff's theory of liability—that Nissan's manufacture and concealment of a defective clutch system injured class members at the time of sale—is consistent with his proposed recovery based on the benefit of the bargain. Therefore, the district court abused its discretion when it denied class certification based on a misconception of plaintiff's legal theory. Accordingly, the panel remanded for further proceedings. View "Huu Nguyen v. Nissan North America, Inc." on Justia Law
Ahearn v. Hyundai Motor America
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