Articles Posted in Class Action

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Plaintiffs filed a would-be class-action against China Agritech and others, alleging violations of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (Resh Action). Plaintiffs in this case were unnamed plaintiffs in two earlier would-be class actions against many of the same defendants based on the same underlying events (Dean and Smyth Actions). Class action certification was denied in both cases. Determining that appellate jurisdiction was proper, the Ninth Circuit held that the would-be class action brought by the Resh plaintiffs was not time-barred. In this case, plaintiffs' individual claims were tolled under American Pipe & Construction Co v. Utah, 414 U.S. 538 (1974), and Crown, Cork & Seal Co. v. Parker, 462 U.S. 345 (1983), during the pendency of the Dean and Smyth Actions. The panel explained that so long as they can satisfy the criteria of FRCP 23, and can persuade the district court that comity or preclusion principles do not bar their action, they were entitled to bring their timely individual claims as named plaintiffs in a would-be class action. The panel held that permitting future class action named plaintiffs, who were unnamed class members in previously uncertified classes, to avail themselves of American Pipe tolling would advance the policy objectives that led the Supreme Court to permit tolling in the first place View "Resh v. China Agritech" on Justia Law

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At issue was whether plaintiffs may amend their complaint, after a case has been removed to federal court, to change the definition of the class so as to eliminate minimal diversity and thereby divest the federal court of jurisdiction. The Ninth Circuit held that plaintiffs may not do so and clarified that the range of amendments permitted under the panel's prior opinion in Benko v. Quality Loan Service Corp., 789 F.3d 1111 (9th Cir. 2015), upon which the district court relied, is very narrow. Plaintiff filed suit against Visa and others, claiming that Visa is violating the state antitrust laws by fixing rates and preventing merchants from applying a surcharge for the use of credit cards. Because the existence of minimal diversity in this case must be determined on the basis of the pleadings at the time of removal in accordance with the general rule, the order of the district court remanding the case on the basis of a postremoval amendment must be reversed. View "Broadway Grill v. Visa" on Justia Law

Posted in: Class Action

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Serena Kwan appealed the dismissal of her second amended complaint for failing to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. In 2014, Kwan, On Behalf of Herself and All Others Similarly Situated, filed a class action against Defendants-Appellees, SanMedica International, LLC (“SanMedica”), and Sierra Research Group, LLC (“Sierra”), alleging violations of California’s Unfair Competition Law (“UCL”) and California’s Consumers Legal Remedies Act (“CLRA”). The complaint was based on an allegation that the defendants falsely represented that their product, SeroVital, provided a 682% mean increase in Human Growth Hormone (“HGH”) levels, that it was clinically tested, and that “peak growth hormone levels” were associated with “youthful skin integrity, lean musculature, elevated energy production, [and] adipose tissue distribution." The Ninth Circuit concluded the district court correctly concluded that California law did not provide for a private cause of action to enforce the substantiation requirements of California’s unfair competition and consumer protection laws. Further, the district court did not err in concluding that Kwan’s second amended complaint failed to allege facts that would support a finding that SanMedica International’s claims regarding its product, SeroVital, were actually false. Accordingly, the Court affirmed dismissal. View "Kwan v. Sanmedica Int'l" on Justia Law

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Cordis invoked the Class Action Fairness Act's (CAFA), 28 U.S.C. 1332(d)(11)(B)(i), provision as the basis for removing to federal court eight products liability suits filed against it in California state court. Although the parties mostly agree that the jurisdictional requirements for removal under CAFA's mass action provision are met, they dispute whether plaintiffs' claims have been "proposed to be tried jointly." The district court held that plaintiffs' consolidation motion did not propose a joint trial of their claims, and remanded to state court. The court granted Cordis' petition for permission to appeal that ruling under 28 U.S.C. 1453(c). The court concluded that plaintiffs' request for consolidation for the purposes of pretrial proceedings, standing alone, does not trigger removal jurisdiction under CAFA's mass action provision. The court further explained that plaintiffs also requested consolidation for purposes of establishing a bellwether-trial process, but nothing they said indicated that they were referring to a bellwether trial whose results would have preclusive effect on the plaintiffs in the other cases. Therefore, the district court correctly held that removal jurisdiction does not exist under CAFA's mass action provision, and it properly remanded the cases to state court. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Dunson v. Cordis Corp." on Justia Law

Posted in: Class Action

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Plaintiffs, small businesses and small business owners who leased "point of sale" credit and debit card processing equipment, filed suit against the Leasing Defendants, alleging that they defrauded plaintiffs in a scheme involving equipment leases and credit card processing services. Of five proposed national classes, the district court certified two: the SKS Post-Lease Expiration Class and the Property Tax Equipment Cost Basis Class. In regard to the SKS Post-Lease Expiration class, the court concluded that there are individualized issues related to the representative plaintiff's injury, common questions exist; and common questions predominate for the alleged Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), 18 U.S.C. 1962, violation. In regard to the Property Tax Equipment class, the court concluded that the district court did not abuse its discretion in concluding that common questions predominate and the class was superior because litigation on a classwide basis would promote greater efficiency in resolving the cases' claims. Accordingly, the court affirmed the classification orders. View "Just Film, Inc. v. Buono" on Justia Law

Posted in: Class Action

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Plaintiffs filed a class action against ARS, a debt collection agency, under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), 15 U.S.C. 1692 et seq. The class consists of some four million people nationwide. At issue is whether the magistrate judge had the authority to exercise jurisdiction to approve the class action settlement without obtaining the consent of all four million class members. If so, at issue is whether the magistrate judge abused her discretion by approving the settlement as fair, reasonable, and adequate. The court concluded that the magistrate judge had the authority to enter final judgment pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 636(c); the court joined three of its sister circuits and concluded that the statute requires the consent of the named plaintiffs alone, not the consent of the four million class members not present before the district court; and section 636(c) does not violate Article III of the Constitution by permitting magistrate judges to exercise jurisdiction over class actions without obtaining the consent of each absent class member. The court concluded that the magistrate judge abused her discretion by approving the settlement because there is no evidence that the relief afforded by the settlement has any value to the class members, yet to obtain it they had to relinquish their right to seek damages in any other class action. Furthermore, ARS and the named plaintiffs likewise presented no evidence that the absent class members would derive any benefit from the settlement’s cy pres award. Therefore, the court reversed and remanded. View "Koby v. Helmuth" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs are consumers who purchased Wesson-brand cooking oil products labeled “100% Natural.” On appeal, ConAgra seeks to reverse the district court's certification of the class, arguing that the district court failed to require plaintiffs to proffer a reliable way to identify members of the certified classes. The court concluded that it has never interpreted Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23 to require such a showing, and the court joined the Sixth, Seventh, and Eighth Circuits and declined to do so. The court explained that the language of Rule 23 neither provides nor implies that demonstrating an administratively feasible way to identify class members is a prerequisite to class certification, and the policy concerns that have motivated the Third Circuit to adopt a separately articulated requirement are already addressed by the Rule. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Briseno v. ConAgra Foods" on Justia Law

Posted in: Class Action

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Plaintiff filed a putative class action against Mercer, alleging that Mercer had a common policy or practice of failing to inform domestic farm workers of the availability of H-2A work that paid $12 per hour, in violation of the Agricultural Workers’ Protection Act (AWPA), 29 U.S.C. 1831(e) and 1821(f), and the Washington Consumer Protection Act (CPA), Wash. Rev. Code 19.86.020. Plaintiffs also alleged that Mercer failed to pay its own domestic workers $12 per hour when they carried out the same tasks as foreign H-2A workers, in violation of AWPA and state wage laws.The district court certified an Inaccurate Information class and an Equal Pay subclass, corresponding to plaintiffs’ claims. In regard to the Inaccurate Information class, the court concluded that the district court did not abuse its discretion by finding common questions and in finding that common issues predominated under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(b)(3). In regard to the Equal Pay subclass, the court concluded that the district court did not abuse its discretion by identifying a common question of fact concerning whether Mercer’s domestic workers were consistently paid $12 per hour for H-2A work. Finally, the court concluded that the district court did not err in finding that the typicality requirement was met in this case. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Ruiz Torres v. Mercer Canyons" on Justia Law

Posted in: Class Action

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Plaintiff filed suit on his own behalf and also moved to represent 605 former and current sales associates as a class, alleging that Stoneledge requires sales associates to perform many tasks unrelated to sales. Plaintiff claimed that Stoneledge does not pay its sales associates for such work, beyond what they earn in commissions, and this policy violates California wage and hour laws. The district court granted class certification under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23. The court concluded that the district court permissibly concluded that plaintiff had pleaded a common injury capable of class-wide resolution; where the need for individual damages calculations does not, alone, defeat class certification, the district court permissibly ruled that individual claims did not predominate in this case; and the district court did not violate the Rules Enabling Act, 28 U.S.C. 2072(b), or abuse its discretion in certifying the class. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Bermudez Vaquero v. Ashley Furniture" on Justia Law

Posted in: Class Action

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Plaintiffs, 108 individuals with property near the Boeing facility, filed suit against Boeing and Landau in state court, alleging that for several decades Boeing released toxins into the groundwater around its facility in Auburn, Washington, and that for over a decade Landau had been negligent in its investigation and remediation of the resulting pollution. Boeing removed to federal court based on diversity and the Class Action Fairness Act (CAFA), 28 U.S.C. 1332(d). The district court remanded to state court finding that there was not complete diversity and plaintiffs' action came within the single-event exception to CAFA federal jurisdiction. In this appeal, Boeing argued that plaintiffs have not demonstrated that they seek “significant relief” from Landau, the in-state defendant, and that Landau’s conduct does not form “a significant basis of the claims asserted,” as required by section 1332(d)(4)(A)(i). The court concluded that plaintiffs have adequately pled both that they are seeking “significant relief” from Landau and that Landau’s alleged conduct forms a “significant basis” for their claims. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Allen v. Boeing Co." on Justia Law