Justia Civil Procedure Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Class Action
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Plaintiff brought this putative class action against more than twenty banks and brokers, alleging a conspiracy to manipulate two benchmark rates known as Yen-LIBOR and Euroyen TIBOR. He claimed that he was injured after purchasing and trading a Euroyen TIBOR futures contract on a U.S.-based commodity exchange because the value of that contract was based on a distorted, artificial Euroyen TIBOR. Plaintiff brought claims under the Commodity Exchange Act (“CEA”), and the Sherman Antitrust Act, and sought leave to assert claims under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (“RICO”).   The district court dismissed the CEA and antitrust claims and denied leave to add the RICO claims. Plaintiff appealed, arguing that the district court erred by holding that the CEA claims were impermissibly extraterritorial, that he lacked antitrust standing to assert a Sherman Act claim, and that he failed to allege proximate causation for his proposed RICO claims.   The Second Circuit affirmed. The court explained that fraudulent submissions to an organization based in London that set a benchmark rate related to a foreign currency—occurred almost entirely overseas. Here Plaintiff failed to allege any significant acts that took place in the United States. Plaintiff’s CEA claims are based predominantly on foreign conduct and are thus impermissibly extraterritorial. As such, the district court also correctly concluded that Plaintiff lacked antitrust standing because he would not be an efficient enforcer of the antitrust laws. Finally, Plaintiff failed to allege proximate causation for his RICO claims. View "Laydon v. Coöperatieve Rabobank U.A., et al." on Justia Law

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In the 1950s, DuPont began discharging C-8—a “forever” chemical that accumulates in the human body and the environment—into the Ohio River, landfills, and the air surrounding its West Virginia plant. By the 1960s, DuPont learned that C-8 is toxic to animals and, by the 1980s, that it is potentially a human carcinogen. DuPont’s discharges increased until 2000. Evidence subsequently confirmed that C-8 caused several diseases among those drinking the contaminated water. In a class action lawsuit, DuPont promised to treat the affected water and to fund a scientific process concerning the impact of C-8 exposure. A panel of scientists conducted an approximately seven-year epidemiological study of the blood samples and medical records of more than 69,000 affected community members, while the litigation was paused. The settlement limited the claims that could be brought against DuPont based on the study’s determination of which diseases prevalent in the communities were likely linked to C-8 exposure. The resulting cases were consolidated in multidistrict litigation. After two bellwether trials and a post-bellwether trial reached verdicts against DuPont, the parties settled the remaining cases.More class members filed suit when they became sick or discovered the connection between their diseases and C-8. In this case, the Sixth Circuit affirmed the application of collateral estoppel to specific issues that were unanimously resolved in the three prior jury trials, the exclusion of certain evidence based on the initial settlement agreement, and rejection of DuPont’s statute-of-limitations defense.. View "Abbott v. E. I. du Pont de Nemours & Co." on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs allege that Boeing and Southwest Airlines defrauded them by, among other things, concealing a serious safety defect in the Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft. The district court certified four classes encompassing those who purchased or reimbursed approximately 200 million airline tickets for flights that were flown or could have been flown on a MAX 8.In reviewing Defendants' interlocutory appeal, the Fifth Circuit reversed the district court. The court found that Plaintiffs lacked Article III standing because they failed to allege any concrete injury. View "Earl v. Boeing" on Justia Law

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This case involves challenges to five provisions of the Grants Pass Municipal Code (“GPMC”). The provisions can be described as an “anti-sleeping” ordinance, two “anticamping” ordinances, a “park exclusion” ordinance, and a “park exclusion appeals” ordinance.   The Ninth Circuit affirmed in part and vacated in part the district court’s summary judgment and its permanent injunction in favor of Plaintiffs; affirmed certification pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 23(b)(2), of a class of “involuntary homeless” persons; and remanded in an action challenging municipal ordinances which, among other things, preclude homeless persons from using a blanket, a pillow, or cardboard box for protection from the elements while sleeping within the City’s limits.   The panel stated that this court’s decision in Martin v. City of Boise, 902 F.3d 1031 (9th Cir. 2018), which held that “the Eighth Amendment prohibits the imposition of criminal penalties for sitting, sleeping, or lying outside on public property for homeless individuals who cannot obtain shelter” served as the backdrop for this entire litigation. The panel held that there was abundant evidence in the record establishing that homeless persons were injured by the City’s enforcement actions in the past and it was undisputed that enforcements have continued. The panel further held that the relief sought by plaintiffs, enjoining enforcement of a few municipal ordinances aimed at involuntary homeless persons, was redressable within the limits of Article III. The panel held that based on the record in this case, the district court did not err by finding plaintiffs satisfied the requirements of Fed. R. Civ. P. 23(a) such that a class could be certified under Rule 23(b)(2). View "GLORIA JOHNSON, ET AL V. CITY OF GRANTS PASS" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs in this class action are a class of all West Virginia citizens who refinanced a total of 2,769 mortgages with Defendant Quicken Loans Inc. (now Rocket Mortgage, LLC) from 2004 to 2009, for whom Quicken Loans obtained appraisals from Defendant appraisal management company Title Source, Inc. (now Amrock Inc.) using a request form that included an estimate of value of the subject property. The district court certified the proposed class and granted summary judgment to Plaintiffs on three claims: unconscionable inducement under West Virginia Code Section 46A-2-121(a)(1); breach of contract; and conspiracy.   Previously the Fourth Circuit concluded that Plaintiffs had standing because all of the class members had paid “for independent appraisals that . . . they never received”. Three months later, the Supreme Court issued its opinion in TransUnion LLC v. Ramirez, which addressed Article III standing in the context of a class-action case. Having considered the parties' submissions, the Fourth Circuit concluded that the district court should apply TransUnion to the facts of this case in the first instance. Accordingly, the court vacated and remanded for further proceedings. View "Phillip Alig v. Rocket Mortgage, LLC" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff’s complaint alleged Circle K violated the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) by failing to provide him with proper FCRA disclosures when it sought and received his authorization to obtain a consumer report about him in connection with his application for employment, and by actually obtaining the consumer report in reliance on that authorization. Plaintiff appealed from a judgment of dismissal entered in favor of respondent Circle K Stores Inc. (Circle K) and against Plaintiff after the trial court sustained Circle K’s demurrer to Plaintiff’s CLASS ACTION COMPLAINT (complaint) without leave to amend.     The Fifth Appellate affirmed the judgment of dismissal. The court explained that Plaintiff did not allege he did not receive a copy of the consumer report that Circle K obtained. Plaintiff does not allege the consumer report obtained by Circle K contains any defamatory content or other per se injurious content. He does not allege the consumer report contained false or inaccurate information. Similarly, there are no allegations of any exposure to a material risk of future harm, imminent or substantial. Thus, there was no injury to Plaintiff’s protected interest in ensuring fair and accurate credit (or background) reporting. The court also rejected Plaintiff’s claims he suffered “informational injury” sufficient to confer upon him standing to maintain his action. “Informational injury that causes no adverse effects”—e.g., where required information is provided but is provided in the wrong format as in the present case—has been held insufficient to satisfy Article III standing. View "Limon v. Circle K Stores" on Justia Law

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Vigil filed a class action against Muir Medical Group, claiming that it failed to secure patients’ personal information, thereby allowing a former employee to download private medical information belonging to more than 5,000 patients and take it with her when she left her employment with Muir. The class complaint alleges that Muir violated Civil Code sections 56.101 and 56.36(b), of the Confidentiality of Medical Information Act (CMIA) by negligently releasing class members’ confidential medical information. The trial court denied a motion for class certification, finding as to the CMIA claim that each class member would have to show that the confidential nature of his medical information had been breached by an unauthorized party, as required by the 2014 “Sutter Health” decision and therefore that common issues would not predominate.The court of appeal affirmed. The trial court properly applied the CMIA and exercised its discretion in denying class certification. Under “Sutter Health,” a breach of confidentiality requires an unauthorized person to have “actually viewed” the confidential medical information. The mere ability of an unauthorized party to access information cannot support a claim under sections 56.101(a), and 56.36(b). Each class member’s right to recover depends on facts peculiar to his case. View "Vigil v. Muir Medical Group IPA, Inc." on Justia Law

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Two former students of Tulane University, on behalf of a putative class of current and former students, sued the University for failing to provide a partial refund of tuition and fees after Tulane switched from in-person instruction with access to on-campus services to online, off-campus instruction during the COVID-19 pandemic. The district court agreed with Tulane that the student's complaint should be dismissed for failure to state a claim.   The Fifth Circuit reversed and remanded. The court concluded that the claim is not barred as a claim of educational malpractice because the Students do not challenge the quality of the education received but the product received. Second, the court rejected Tulane’s argument that the breach-of-contract claim is foreclosed by an express agreement between the parties because the agreement at issue plausibly does not govern refunds in this circumstance. And third, the court concluded that Plaintiffs have not plausibly alleged that Tulane breached an express contract promising in-person instruction and on-campus facilities because Plaintiffs fail to point to any explicit language evidencing that promise. But the court held that Plaintiffs have plausibly alleged implied-in-fact promises for in-person instruction and on-campus facilities. Moreover, the court found that the Students’ alternative claim for unjust enrichment may proceed at this early stage. Finally, genuine disputes of material fact regarding whether Plaintiffs saw and agreed to the A&DS preclude reliance on the agreement at this stage. Thus, Plaintiffs have plausibly alleged a claim of conversion. View "Jones v. Admin of the Tulane Educ" on Justia Law

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International Flavors & Fragrances Inc. (“IFF”), a U.S.-based seller of flavoring and fragrance products, acquired Frutarom Industries Ltd. (“Frutarom”), an Israeli firm in the same industry. Leading up to the merger, Frutarom allegedly made material misstatements about its compliance with anti-bribery laws and the source of its business growth. Plaintiffs, who bought stock in IFF, sued Frutarom, alleging that those misstatements violated Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (“Exchange Act”) and Rule 10b-5 thereunder.   The Second Circuit affirmed the district court’s dismissal of Plaintiffs’ complaint. The court concluded that Plaintiffs lack statutory standing to sue. Under the purchaser-seller rule, standing to bring a claim under Section 10(b) is limited to purchasers or sellers of securities issued by the company about which a misstatement was made. Plaintiffs here lack standing to sue based on alleged misstatements that Frutarom made about itself because they never bought or sold shares of Frutarom. View "Menora Mivtachim Ins. Ltd. v. Frutarom Indus. Ltd." on Justia Law

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After Plaintiff-appellant David Salazar bought Walmart, Inc.’s “Great Value White Baking Chips” incorrectly thinking they contained white chocolate, he filed this class action against Walmart for false advertising under various consumer protection statutes. The trial court sustained Walmart’s demurrers without leave to amend, finding as a matter of law that no reasonable consumer would believe Walmart’s White Baking Chips contain white chocolate. The thrust of Salazar's claims was that he was reasonably misled to believe the White Baking Chips had real white chocolate because of the product’s label and its placement near products with real chocolate. Salazar also alleged that the results of a survey he conducted show that 90 percent of consumers were deceived by the White Baking Chips’ advertising and incorrectly believed they contained white chocolate. “California courts . . . have recognized that whether a business practice is deceptive will usually be a question of fact not appropriate for decision on demurrer. ... These are matters of fact, subject to proof that can be tested at trial, even if as judges we might be tempted to debate and speculate further about them.” After careful consideration, the Court of Appeal determined that a reasonable consumer could reasonably believe the morsels had white chocolate. As a result, the Court found Salazar plausibly alleged that “‘a significant portion of the general consuming public or of targeted consumers, acting reasonably in the circumstances, could be misled’” by the chips' advertising. Judgment was reversed and the matter remanded for further proceedings. View "Salazar v. Walmart, Inc." on Justia Law