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Posts Tagged ‘United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit’

Class Action Settlement Approval Reversed Where Class Representative Incentive Awards Conditioned on Settlement Support

In Class Actions, Incentive Award on April 22, 2013 at 9:32 pm
Sometimes money is a powerful incentive.

Sometimes money is a powerful incentive. (Photo credit: wayneandwax)

The Ninth Circuit today reversed a trial court’s approval of a class action settlement against credit reporting agencies under the Fair Credit Report Act, citing a failure by the class representatives and class counsel to adequately represent the class.  Radcliffe, et al v. Experian Information Solutions, Inc., et al., Case No. 11-56376, __ F.3d __ (Apr. 22, 2013).  The court took issue with the incentive awards to the class representatives that were conditioned on the class representatives’ support for the settlement.  The court reasoned that these conditional awards caused a divergence of interests between the representatives and the class:

These conditional incentive awards caused the interests of the class representatives to diverge from the interests of the class because the settlement agreement told class representatives that they would not receive incentive awards unless they supported the settlement.

You can read more here.

By CHARLES H. JUNG

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Press Quotes About Analysis of Ninth Circuit’s Kilgore v. KeyBank, N.A. Case

In Arbitration, Injunctive Relief, Press Quotes, Public Claims on April 15, 2013 at 9:15 am
ProfWhiteboard_Injunctions

ProfWhiteboard_Injunctions (Photo credit: cali.org)

Abigail Rubenstein of Law360 published an article Friday quoting the blog author’s analysis of the Ninth Circuit’s recent en banc ruling in Kilgore v. KeyBank, N.A.  Kilgore v. Keybank, N.A., No. 09-16703, __ F.3d __ (9th Cir. Apr. 11, 2013) (en banc):

Employers who were hoping that the full court would adopt the original appellate panel in the case’s flat-out rejection of the Broughton-Cruz rule may be disappointed, but the narrower en banc decision will still likely prove useful to businesses trying to enforce their arbitration agreements in employment disputes, lawyers told Law360.

“The decision left open the question of the viability of the Broughton-Cruz rule, but the reasoning of the court at the end of the day might please the defense bar more than the plaintiffs bar because although the Ninth Circuit sidestepped the continued viability of the rule, what it did say was that to extent that an exception [to the FAA] for public injunctive relief exists, it is quite a narrow one,” Charles Jung of Nassiri & Jung LLP said.

And employers facing Private Attorney General Act claims, which plaintiffs often argue fit into that exception, can seize on the appeals court’s narrow construction to make the case that the claims should be sent to an arbitrator, employment defense lawyers said.

Ninth Circuit Holds That FLSA Collective Action and State Law Class Action Are Not Inherently Incompatible

In Class Notice, Collective Action, FLSA, Opt-in, Opt-out on April 12, 2013 at 5:17 pm
Threatened Class Action Against Second Life Br...

Threatened Class Action Against Second Life Brautigan & Tuck Holdings (Photo credit: TaranRampersad)

In a wage and hour class action, Bush v. Integrity Staffing Solutions, Inc., No. 11-16892, __ F.3d __ (9th Cir. Apr. 12, 2013), a Ninth Circuit panel today affirmed in part and reversed in part the district court’s dismissal of warehouse workers’ claims for unpaid wages under the Fair Labor Standards Act and Nevada state law.  The court reversed the dismissal of state law claims on the basis that they would be certified using different class certification procedures than the federal wage-and-hour claims.  Agreeing with other circuits, the panel held that a FLSA collective action and a state law class action are not inherently incompatible as a matter of law even though plaintiffs must opt into a collective action under the FLSA but must opt out of a class action under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23.

Our sister circuits have correctly reasoned that FLSA’s plain text does not suggest that a district court must dismiss a state law claim that would be certified using an opt-out procedure. Its opt-in requirement extends only to “any such action” – that is, a FLSA claim. . . . Nor does the legislative history of Section 216(b) support the view of some district courts that allowing both actions to proceed simultaneously “would essentially nullify Congress’s intent in crafting Section 216(b) and eviscerate the purpose of Section 216(b)’s opt-in requirement.”

Judges

Before: Jerome Farris, Sidney R. Thomas, and N. Randy Smith, Circuit Judges. Opinion by Judge Thomas.

The case was argued and submitted at Stanford Law School.

Attorneys

Mark R. Thierman, Jason J. Kuller, Joshua D. Buck (argued), Thierman Law Firm, P.C., Reno, Nevada, for Plaintiffs- Appellants.

Rick D. Roskelley (argued), Roger L. Grandgenett II, Cory Glen Walker, Littler Mendelson, P.C., Las Vegas, Nevada, for Defendant-Appellee.

By CHARLES H. JUNG

Ninth Circuit Avoids Broad Ruling, Leaving Question of Viability of Broughton-Cruz to Another Day

In Arbitration, Class Waiver, Concepcion, Public Claims on April 12, 2013 at 11:09 am
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Ninth Circuit’s en banc ruling yesterday in Kilgore v.Keybank, N.A. (you can read more here) was a decidedly restrained opinion.  The court could certainly have held, as many expected, that the Broughton-Cruz public injunction exception to the general rule that the “FAA requires state courts to honor arbitration agreements” does not stand in light of Concepcion, particularly in light of the Supreme Court’s reaction to state courts taking a narrow read of Concepcion.

But while some reports justifiably see Kilgore as a narrow victory for the plaintiff’s bar, the Ninth Circuit arguably took a narrow read of the public injunction exception.  The court held that the claim for injunctive relief fell outside Broughton-Cruz because the “requested prohibitions against reporting defaults on the Note and seeking enforcement of the Note plainly would benefit only the approximately 120 putative class members.”  Slip op. at 17 (emphasis supplied).

In Kilgore, defendant withdrew from the private school loan business, and accordingly the court concluded that the “injunctive relief sought thus, for all practical purposes, relates only to past harms suffered by the members of the limited putative class.”

The central premise of Broughton-Cruz is that “the judicial forum has significant institutional advantages over arbitration in administering a public injunctive remedy, which as a consequence will likely lead to the diminution or frustration of the public benefit if the remedy is entrusted to arbitrators.” Broughton, 988 P.2d at 78. That concern is absent here, where Defendants’ alleged statutory violations have, by Plaintiffs’ own admission, already ceased, where the class affected by the alleged practices is small, and where there is no real prospective benefit to the public at large from the relief sought.

This suggests an argument for defendants in class action cases where there is a mandatory arbitration agreement: where the company has stopped an alleged unlawful practice, and the proposed private attorney general action affects only the class members, then a defendant might argue that the Broughton-Cruz rule does not apply.  It’s worth noting that 120 putative class members is not an unusually small class in an employment case, and if the Ninth Circuit sees a class of that size as only a “limited putative class”, then it might arguably see many wage and hour cases as affecting only a limited portion of the public.

If this is a victory for the plaintiff’s bar, it is indeed a very narrow one.  And it highlights the importance of the California Supreme Court’s upcoming decision in Iskanian.

By CHARLES H. JUNG

First District Holds That Unlicensed Law School Graduate Still May Be Exempt Under Learned Professions Exemption

In Exemptions, Professional on August 26, 2011 at 5:09 pm
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The First District Court of Appeal held that summary judgment was properly granted in a wage and hour case because plaintiff unlicensed law school graduate performed duties that brought him within the exemption for learned professionals.  Zelasko-Barrett v. Brayton-Purcell, LLP, — Cal.Rptr.3d —-, 2011 WL 3594015, No. A130540 (1st Dist. Aug. 17, 2011) .

Background

Plaintiff was employed by the Brayton-Purcell, LLP (Brayton) law firm as a Law Clerk II after he graduated from law school but before he passed the bar examination. Id. *1. After being admitted to the bar, plaintiff was designated as an associate attorney, and performed tasks customarily performed by junior attorneys. Id. He drafted pleadings, discover demands and responses, did legal research and drafted memoranda of points and authorities, interviewed witnesses, etc. Id. The trial court granted Brayton’s motion for summary judgment and sustained objections to numerous statements where plaintiff denied he was employed in a professional capacity and performed work covered by the professional exemption. Id. Read the rest of this entry »

Ninth Circuit Holds That Newspaper Reporters Not Exempt

In 23(b)(2) Class, Class Actions, Class Notice, Collective Action, Exemptions, FLSA, Jury, Meal and Rest Breaks, Opt-in, Opt-out, Overtime, Preemption, Professional, Trial, Unfair Competition Law on September 30, 2010 at 12:14 am
New York, New York. Newsroom of the New York T...
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On Monday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed in “all respects” the trial court’s grant of partial summary judgment to plaintiffs, a judgment after jury and bench trials, and an award of attorney’s fees to plaintiffs.  Wang v. Chinese Daily News, Inc., Nos. 08-55483, 08-56740, — F.3d —-, 2010 WL 3733568 (9th Cir. Sept. 27, 2010).  Among other things, the Ninth Circuit held that plaintiff newspaper reporters were non-exempt.  (Thank you to Randy Renick for bringing this case to my attention.)

Background

Employees of Chinese Daily News, Inc. (“CDN”), a Chinese-language newspaper, filed suit against CDN on behalf of current, former, and future CDN employees based in CDN’s San Francisco and Monterey Park (Los Angeles), California locations.  Id. *1.  Plaintiffs claimed violations of the FLSA, California’s Labor Code, and California’s Unfair Competition Law, Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code § 17200, alleging that employees were made to work in excess of eight hours per day and forty hours per week. Id. Read the rest of this entry »

Central District Remands Minimum Wage and Overtime Class Action for Failure to Satisfy CAFA Amount in Controversy

In CAFA Jurisdiction, Remand on September 7, 2010 at 5:52 am
Parking Lot
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The Central District remanded a putative minimum wage and overtime class action suit in Munoz v. Central Parking Sys., Inc., No. CV 10-6172 PA (RCx), 2010 WL 3432239 (C.D. Cal. Aug. 30, 2010) (unpublished).

Plaintiff’s complaint attempted to avoid removal, stating “[i]t is believed that the total sum owed to the Class alleged herein is less than $5 million, based upon the anticipated size of the Class and the amount in controversy for each member of the Class.”  Id. *1. Read the rest of this entry »

Eastern District Holds That Plaintiffs May Rely on a “Few Representative Inquiries” and Extrapolate to the Class

In CAFA Jurisdiction, Certification, Class Actions on September 6, 2010 at 2:07 am
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The court in Adoma v. University of Phoenix, Inc., No. CIV. S-10-0059 LKK/GGH, 2010 WL 3431804 (E.D. Cal. Aug. 31, 2010 (slip op.) held that even where plaintiff’s proposed method of “reconstructing records of hours worked . . . will be imperfect”, plaintiffs may rely on “a few representative inquiries whose results will be extrapolated to the class.” Read the rest of this entry »

In a Split Opinion, Ninth Circuit Affirms Christian Humanitarian Organization’s Exemption From Title VII’s Prohibition Against Religious Discrimination

In Other Cases of Interest on August 24, 2010 at 2:42 pm
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In Spencer v. World Vision, Inc., No. 08-35532, — F.3d —-, 2010 WL 3293706 (9th Cir. Aug. 23, 2010), the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals considered whether a faith-based humanitarian organization is exempt from Title VII’s prohibition against religious discrimination.  Defendant World Vision describes itself as “a Christian humanitarian organization dedicated to working with children, families and their communities worldwide to reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty and injustice.” Id. *1.   Read the rest of this entry »

Southern District of California Denies Remand in Case Asserting CAFA Jurisdiction

In CAFA Jurisdiction, Class Actions on August 13, 2010 at 5:22 pm
Edward J. Schwartz Courthouse, San Diego, Cali...
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In Johnson v. U.S. Vision, Inc., No. 10-CV-0690 BEN (CAB), 2010 WL 3154847 (S.D. Cal. Aug. 9, 2010) the Southern District of California faced a remand motion in a wage and hour case that had been removed pursuant to the Class Action Fairness Act (“CAFA”), 28 U.S.C. §§ 1332, 1441, 1453.

Judge Roger T. Benitez denied the motion to remand.  Defendant presented a calculation of damages, supporting its calcualtions with declaration from, among other people, the Assistant Controller, Operations, for U.S. Vision, Inc., responsible for enforcing Defendants’ payroll policies and procedures.  The declaration set forth Plaintiff’s most recent hourly rate of pay, as well as the specific number of optical managers and optechs employed during the Class Period, average hourly rates of pay for managers and optechs, number of employees who separated their employment with Defendants, and number of possible wage statements for each employee per year.

Plaintiff argued that Defendants miscalculated the amount in controversy because:

Defendants erroneously assumed “each class member was damaged to the same extent that Plaintiff Johnson was, and that every putative class member, among other things, worked off the clock and incurred a break violation every single day of the entire class period.” Mot. 6. Plaintiff emphasizes that Defendants have access to more specific figures to calculate the amount in controversy and that “each [class] member can be identified using information contained in Defendants’ payroll, scheduling and personnel records.” Compl. ¶ 39.

But the Court held that absent a “persuasive argument that Defendants are required to prove actual damages in order to remove this action, however, the Court must consider the amount put in controversy by the Complaint, not the ultimate or provable amount of damages.”  (citing Rippee v. Boston Market Corp., 408 F. Supp. 2d 982, 986 (S.D. Cal. 2005).)  The Court found that, having based their calculations on allegations provided in the Complaint, Defendants proved with a legal certainty that CAFA’s jurisdictional threshold is satisfied.

Despite Plaintiff’s attempt to provide supplemental information in the motion to remand, Defendants were entitled to, and did, use the factual allegations in the Complaint to calculate the amount in controversy. See Gaus v. Miles, Inc., 980 F.2d 564, 567 (9th Cir. 1992) (holding that defendant must use specific factual allegations or provisions in the complaint to support its argument of proper removal). The Court finds that Defendants provided detailed and competent evidence supporting their calculations and showing, to a legal certainty, that the jurisdictional threshold under CAFA is met. To the extent subsequent events show that jurisdiction would not be proper, the Court can address remand at that time. 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c).

By CHARLES H. JUNG

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