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

Articles Posted in Class Action

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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

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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

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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

Posted in: Class Action

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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

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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