Single Plant Employment Discrimination Class Survives Dukes Challenge

A divided panel of the Fourth Circuit ruled that a South Carolina district court judge improperly applied Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. Dukes in decertifying disparate treatment and disparate impact claims challenging promotion decisions under federal discrimination statutes on behalf of black employees at a single plant. In 2009, prior to Dukes, the Fourth Circuit had previously ordered the district court to certify both disparate treatment and impact promotion classes ... Keep Reading »

Does Rule 23(e) Require that Settlement Class Members Receive Notice of Modification to Cy Pres Remedy?

The United States District Court for the District of Columbia recently held that a modification to a settlement agreement was not subject to the procedural protections of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(e) because it would not "materially hinder" the legal rights of class members. The settlement agreement at issue, entered into between Native American ranchers and farmers and the United States Department of Agriculture, required that the money remaining after the ... Keep Reading »

Class Action Plaintiffs’ Failure to Appear at Deposition Deemed Not Prejudicial Enough for Dismissal

In a class action brought against Amtrak, two plaintiffs, Guerra and Whitesides, both of whom had submitted declarations in support of plaintiffs' motion for class certification, failed to appear at their scheduled depositions. Defendants sought an award of costs and fees and, in addition, the dismissal with prejudice of the legal claims of Guerra and Whitesides, arguing that only a dismissal would remedy the misconduct and prevent plaintiffs' counsel from picking and ... Keep Reading »

Avon Calling: Employees Allege Overtime Exemption Misclassification

Avon categorizes all of its district service managers (DSMs) under the "administrative" exception of California law that requires employers to pay overtime wages. DSMs are the Avon employees who recruit and train the independent retail contractors Avon uses to sell its products to the consuming public.  Plaintiffs – 19 former or current Avon DSMs – claimed Avon improperly treated them as exempt and sought to represent a Rule 23(b)(3) class. Relying on the California ... Keep Reading »

Ninth Circuit Strictly Construes “Single Local Event” Exception to CAFA Jurisdiction for Mass Actions

In a recent decision, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals strictly construed the "single local event" exception to federal jurisdiction under CAFA as not encompassing "events or occurrences" that are of a continuing nature. Plaintiffs are Washington residents who filed a complaint in state court alleging that Boeing contaminated their groundwater and, together with its environmental remediation contractor, Landau, did not properly investigate, remediate, and clean up ... Keep Reading »

California District Court Refuses To Certify 33-Jurisdiction Class Due To Material Variations in State Warranty Law

The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California certified a California-only subclass of purchasers of allegedly mislabeled KitchenAid refrigerators but denied plaintiffs' motion to certify a 32-state and District of Columbia class, holding that Rule 23(b)(3)'s predominance and superiority requirements were not met due to material variations in applicable state warranty law. Plaintiffs alleged that they had purchased refrigerators with an Energy Star ... Keep Reading »

SCOTUS Accepts Certiorari to Address Article III Standing in “No-Injury” FCRA Class Action

On April 27, the Supreme Court accepted certiorari review in Spokeo, Inc. v. Robins, 13-1339, to address whether consumers can establish Article III standing without actual harm or injury, by alleging a violation of a federal statute. "Spokeo is a people search engine that organizes White Page listings, Public Records and Social Network information to help you safely find and learn about people." Robins filed a putative class action against Spokeo, alleging it is a ... Keep Reading »

Middle District of Florida Remands Insurance Coverage Class Action, Reasoning Amount In Controversy Is Determined From Value Of Claim, Not Policy

The value of the claim at issue, not the value of the policy limit, is considered for purposes of determining the amount in controversy in an insurance coverage class action. That, the Middle District of Florida found, is the law in the Eleventh Circuit. The plaintiff in Faust v. Maxum Casualty Insurance Company filed in state court a class action against his insurer on behalf of persons covered for Medical Payments coverage under a Florida property, casualty, surety, ... Keep Reading »

Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad: Kansas District Court Certifies Settlement Class and Grants Preliminary Approval but Rejects Notice by Publication

A boy fell through the vinyl guardrail his father installed on the second story deck of their home.  After settling his son's personal injury claims, the father sued Home Depot and the guardrail manufacturer on behalf of himself and other Kansas purchasers for breach of warranty and violations of the Kansas Consumer Protection Act alleging that the guardrail brackets were defective. The district court certified a class, and the Tenth Circuit granted the parties' Rule ... Keep Reading »

Third Circuit to Plaintiffs’ Bar: Expert Testimony Necessary for Certification Must Satisfy Daubert

Plaintiff purchasers of traditional blood reagents, products that test the compatibility of donor blood with recipients, brought putative class actions claiming that two defendant companies conspired to fix prices in violation of antitrust law. Numerous lawsuits were consolidated in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania (and one of the defendants subsequently settled with the plaintiffs). The district court found that plaintiffs had satisfied the requirements of ... Keep Reading »