Class Action Blog by Carlton Fields Jorden Burt

December 18, 2014 12:36 PM | Posted by Clifton R. Gruhn and Ben V. Seessel | Permalink
The Supreme Court has held that a notice of removal requires only a “plausible allegation that the amount in controversy exceeds the jurisdictional threshold,” and confirmed that a notice of removal need not include evidence establishing the amount in controversy.  In Dart Cherokee Basin Operating Co. v. Owens, the plaintiff alleged that defendants, Dart Cherokee Basin Operating Co. and Cherokee Basin Pipeline, LLC, underpaid royalties owed to putative class members and sought on behalf of the putative class a “fair and reasonable amount” of damages. read more
December 17, 2014 1:59 PM | Posted by Alina Alonso Rodriguez and Jaret Fuente | Permalink
The Eleventh Circuit recently held that a defendant may not moot a class action through an unaccepted Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 68 offer of complete relief to the named plaintiffs—but not to class members—before the named plaintiffs move to certify the class. In doing so, the Eleventh Circuit joined the majority of circuits that have addressed the same issue. read more
December 10, 2014 3:21 PM | Posted by James M. Sconzo | Permalink
On December 9, the Supreme Court held that hourly workers in Amazon warehouses need not be compensated for the time they spent waiting to undergo security screening at the end of their shifts. The case, Integrity Staffing Solutions, Inc. v. Busk, is the Court’s most recent opinion on the issue of compensatory time under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). read more
December 5, 2014 8:34 AM | Posted by David E. Cannella and Gary M. Pappas | Permalink
The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals rejected a class action settlement because class counsel would have received generous attorney fees for conferring only meager benefits to the class.  Writing for the Court, just as he did a few months earlier in Eubank v. Pella Corp., 753 F.3d 718 (7th Cir. 2014), Judge Posner described this settlement as “a selfish deal between class counsel and defendant” that “disserves the class.” read more
December 5, 2014 8:29 AM | Posted by Oleg Rivkin and Kristin A. Shepard | Permalink
In the wake of a nationwide class action settlement of litigation against a manufacturer of a test claimed to accurately predict the gender of a fetus, the State of California (“State”) brought an enforcement action against the manufacturer for restitution for California citizens who purchased the test, as well as for civil penalties and injunctive relief.  The defendant manufacturer removed to federal court and sought an injunction under the Anti-Injunction Act, arguing that the State’s action was barred by the settlement.  The federal district court denied the injunction.  The Ninth Circuit appeals affirmed in part and reversed in part, finding that State could proceed with its claims for penalties and injunctive relief, but could not seek restitution on behalf of citizens bound by the settlement. read more
December 4, 2014 3:26 PM | Posted by Paul G. Williams and Kristin A. Shepard | Permalink
In Corber v. Xanodyne Pharmaceuticals, the Ninth Circuit – on rehearing en banc –examined the applicability of the “mass action” provision of CAFA, which provides federal jurisdiction for any civil action in which monetary relief claims of 100 or more persons are “proposed to be tried jointly.”  Pursuant to California Code of Civil Procedure 404.1, plaintiffs moved for coordination of their cases alleging injuries relating to ingestion of a drug ingredient.  Defendants removed, arguing that the coordination petition constituted a proposal “to be tried jointly.” read more
November 25, 2014 1:27 PM | Posted by Christine A. Stoddard and Kristin A. Shepard | Permalink
The United States District Court for the Eastern District of California recently denied class certification in a case alleging wrongdoing by a loan servicer in connection with the Home Affordable Modification Program (“HAMP”). Plaintiff brought the putative class action after defendant foreclosed on his home, seeking to represent a nationwide class of homeowners who had received permanent modification agreements (“PMAs”) for loan modifications that defendant failed to timely put into effect. read more
November 20, 2014 10:46 AM | Posted by Michael A. Greenfield and Ben V. Seessel | Permalink
The Second Circuit affirmed the district court’s denial of class certification of a class of investors based on the appellants’ failure to satisfy the numerosity and commonality requirements of Rule 23(a). Following the collapse of the Cheyne SIV in 2007, a structured investment vehicle structured by Morgan Stanley, the appellants sought to certify a class of sophisticated institutional investors that purchased notes from the SIV between 2004 and 2007. read more
November 19, 2014 8:28 AM | Posted by James M. Sconzo and Jacob R. Hathorn | Permalink
A complaint recently filed in the Southern District of Indiana alleges that the NCAA and its Division I Member Schools have jointly agreed and conspired to engage in a widespread pattern, policy, and practice of failing to pay division I student athletes in violation of the wage-and-hour provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). read more
November 18, 2014 8:53 AM | Posted by Clifton R. Gruhn and Ben V. Seessel | Permalink
The plaintiff filed a putative class action in Pennsylvania state court against two Pennsylvania defendants and one Virginia defendant, claiming that the defendants preyed on non-English speakers, illegally coercing them to enter into franchise agreements that circumvented the obligations of what were properly classified as employment relationships. read more
November 14, 2014 1:16 PM | Posted by Alina Alonso Rodriguez and Jaret Fuente | Permalink
The First Circuit Court of Appeals recently held that the thirty-day time period for removal under CAFA is triggered when the plaintiffs’ complaint or plaintiffs’ subsequent other papers provide defendants with sufficient information to easily determine that the matter is removable, even if based on information provided by or previously available to defendants, and that “other paper” is defined broadly to include correspondence from the plaintiffs or plaintiffs’ counsel  to defendant concerning damages.  read more
November 10, 2014 11:01 AM | Posted by Dean A. Morande and Gary M. Pappas | Permalink
The District Court for the Southern District of California certified a consumer class asserting violations of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”) by defendant Bennett Law, PLLC.  Plaintiff alleged that she received numerous automated debt collection calls on her cell phone from Bennett without her consent.  The law firm failed to respond to her complaint, and the court entered a default.  The court then proceeded to consider plaintiff’s motion for class certification.  The court stated that the entry of default does not alter the requirement that it conduct a rigorous analysis of the Rule 23 requirements for class certification under Dukes. read more
November 5, 2014 4:20 PM | Posted by Amy Lane Hurwitz and Gary M. Pappas | Permalink
The District Court for the Southern District of Ohio recently limited the American Pipe tolling doctrine in a fraud suit arising out of the sale of residential mortgage-backed securities (“RMBS”).  Plaintiffs’ 2011 Ohio complaint alleged that defendants’ offering materials upon which they relied more than three years earlier violated the Federal Securities Act.  Defendants moved to dismiss based on the three year statute of repose contained in 15 U.S.C. §77m.  Plaintiffs responded that the Supreme Court’s 1974 American Pipe decision tolled of statute of limitations because they were putative members of a class sought to be certified in a 2008 New York action relating to some of the identical RMBS. read more
November 4, 2014 11:18 AM | Posted by Amanda Jesteadt Romfh and Jaret J. Fuente | Permalink
The Northern District of Illinois refused to restrict a defense counsel’s communications with putative class members, reasoning that the communications were not misleading or coercive.  The case arose when a “romantic getaway” motel reservations desk employee claimed that all phone calls made to or from the motel’s reservations desks were intercepted, recorded, and archived without consent of either party to the calls, and that some employees listened to the calls for their amusement.  read more
October 30, 2014 3:16 PM | Posted by Oleg Rivkin and Kristin Shepard | Permalink
In a class action involving claims of uncompensated, pre-shift off-the-clock work, a California federal magistrate denied plaintiffs’ motion for a protective order to prevent defendants from taking 196 depositions of absent class members as a part of a post-certification “pilot study” designed to determine the variability in liability among the class members. read more
October 28, 2014 9:19 AM | Posted by Paul G. Williams and Kristin A. Shepard | Permalink
In granting a recent motion to strike class allegations, the Northern District of Illinois made two notable observations about such motions: first, they are not disfavored, but rather an appropriate device for determining whether a class action can proceed; and second, that in analyzing the putative class for conflicts, the court is not limited to the face of the complaint. read more
October 23, 2014 1:49 PM | Posted by Michael Greenfield and Ben Seessel | Permalink
The Eastern District of Pennsylvania denied plaintiffs’ motion to certify certain issues under Rule 23(c)(4) and 23(b)(2), holding that the presence of numerous individualized questions, choice-of-law concerns, and other inefficiencies in the putative class litigation made certification inappropriate.  Allstate had terminated over 6,200 agents, 90% of whom happened to be over the age of 40, offering four different severance options to the terminated agents.  Three of the options offered enhanced severance benefits but required the agents to execute a release in order to be entitled to them.  Plaintiffs sought certification of four issues regarding the validity of the release: 1) involuntariness under a federal standard with respect to plaintiff’s federal claims, 2) unconscionability, 3) unclean hands, and 4) an obscure “part and parcel” theory derived from antitrust jurisprudence read more
October 22, 2014 9:14 AM | Posted by Clifton R. Gruhn & Ben V. Seessel | Permalink
A California federal district court denied certification of two nationwide classes, each asserting a price-fixing conspiracy for optical disk drives (“ODD”), because the plaintiffs’ experts failed to provide a viable methodology for establishing class-wide antitrust injury. The plaintiffs alleged that the defendants colluded to fix prices for ODDs, thereby preventing ODD prices from declining as quickly or as far as they would have absent the defendants’ anticompetitive agreements. read more
October 21, 2014 3:18 PM | Posted by Jacob R. Hathorn and Ben V. Seessel | Permalink
In addition to the explicit Rule 23(a) requirements of numerosity, commonality, typicality, and adequacy of representation, an implied prerequisite to certification is that the class must be sufficiently definite: that is, the party seeking certification must demonstrate that an identifiable and ascertainable class exists. A class is ascertainable if it is defined by objective criteria and is sufficiently definite so that it is administratively feasible to determine whether a particular individual is a member of the class, which is important for purposes of being able to enforce the preclusive effect of a final judgment. read more
October 16, 2014 8:21 AM | Posted by Alina Alonso Rodriguez and Jaret J. Fuente | Permalink
The Southern District of Texas found that negligent misstatement claims filed more than two years after the last alleged misstatement were time-barred and that the applicable statute of limitations was not tolled under American Pipe & Constr. Co. v. Utah, 414 U.S. 538 (1974). read more