Articles Posted in Class Action

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Defendants are the nation’s largest distributors of pre-filled propane exchange tanks, which come in a standard size. Before 2008, Defendants filled the tanks with 17 pounds of propane. In 2008, due to rising prices, Defendants reduced the amount in each tato 15 pounds, maintaining the same price. Plaintiffs, indirect purchasers, who bought tanks from retailers, claimed this effectively raised the price. In 2009, plaintiffs filed a class action alleging conspiracy under the Sherman Act. Plaintiffs settled with both Defendants. In 2014, the Federal Trade Commission issued a complaint against Defendants, which settled in 2015 by consent orders, for conspiring to artificially inflate tank prices. In 2014, another group of indirect purchasers (Ortiz) brought a class action against Defendants, alleging: “Despite their settlements, Defendants continued to conspire, and ... maintained their illegally agreed-upon fill levels, preserving the unlawfully inflated prices." The Ortiz suit became part of a multidistrict proceeding that included similar allegations by direct purchasers (who bought tanks directly from Defendants for resale). The Eighth Circuit reversed the dismissal of the direct-purchaser suit as time-barred, holding that each sale in a price-fixing conspiracy starts the statutory period running again. The court subsequently held that the indirect purchasers inadequately pled an injury-in-fact and lack standing to pursue an injunction to increase the fill levels of the tanks and may not seek disgorgement of profits. View "Ortiz v. Ferrellgas Partners, L.P." on Justia Law

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At issue in this appeal was the certification of a class composed of individuals whose payment card information was compromised as a result of the 2013 Target security breach. The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's recertification of the class on remand, holding that the district court did not err in certifying the proposed class, which included both persons who suffered an actual financial loss and those who had not yet suffered a loss. The court also held that the district court did not abuse its discretion by including the costs of notice and administration expenses as a benefit to the class as a whole in calculating the total benefit to the class, and in finding that the settlement agreement was fair, reasonable, and adequate. Finally, the court affirmed the attorneys' fee award. View "Sciaroni v. Target Corp." on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's order remanding a putative class action, alleging that Ferrara engaged in false, deceptive, and misleading conduct by selling substantially under-filled boxes of Red Hot candies, back to state court. The court held that, even if plaintiffs prevailed in this case, they will be entitled to monetary relief and attorney's fees well below $5 million, regardless of whether the monetary relief comes in the form of compensatory damages, restitution, or disgorgement. Furthermore, Ferrara's affidavits were insufficient to quantify, beyond mere speculation, the costs it would incur in complying with an award of injunctive relief in this case. View "Waters v. Ferrara Candy Co." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff, shoppers who shopped at SuperValu stores that suffered data breaches, filed putative class actions alleging that hackers gained access to defendants' network because defendants failed to take adequate measures to protect customers' payment card information. The Eighth Circuit held that the complaint has not sufficiently alleged a substantial risk of identity theft, and plaintiffs' allegations of future injury did not support standing in this case. However, the complaint sufficiently alleged that one of the plaintiffs suffered an injury in fact, fairly traceable to defendants' security practices, and likely to be redressed by a favorable judgment. Because that plaintiff had Article III standing, the court reversed the district court's dismissal of his complaint. The court affirmed the dismissal as to the remaining plaintiffs and remanded for further proceedings. View "Alleruzzo v. SuperValu, Inc." on Justia Law

Posted in: Class Action

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After hackers accessed the internal database of Scottrade, plaintiff and others filed a putative class action against Scottrade. The district court concluded that plaintiff lacked Article III standing because he had not suffered injury in fact and dismissed the Consolidated Complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. The Eighth Circuit held that plaintiff had Article III standing because he alleged a concrete and particularized breach of contract and "actual" injury. The court held, however, that plaintiff failed to state a claim for breach of an express contract where the allegation that the failure of Scottrade's security measures was a breach of contract that diminished the benefit of plaintiff's bargain was not plausible; claims for breach of implied contract and unjust enrichment were dismissed for the same failure to allege plausible claims; plaintiff's bare bones claim for declaratory relief was virtually unintelligible; and plaintiff failed to plausibly allege how failing to discover and notify customers of the data breach qualified as an unfair or deceptive trade practice under the state statute. Accordingly, the court affirmed the dismissal of the complaint. View "Kuhns v. Scottrade, Inc." on Justia Law

Posted in: Class Action

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Jeannie Vanette Hill Thomas appealed the district court's denial of her motion to intervene in Connie Jean Smith's class action against appellees, based on her interest in adequacy of representation by the class representative and class counsel. The Eighth Circuit held that the district court's determination on this question was final, and the district court's rationale for denying the motion was inadequate. Accordingly, the court remanded for further consideration. The court dismissed for lack of jurisdiction the portion of Thomas's appeal that was based on her interest in the adequacy of notice and opt-out procedures for the class. View "Smith v. SEECO, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit found no violation of Fed. R. Civ. P. 11 or abuse of the judicial process in this consolidated appeal involving parties in a putative action. The court held that counsel did not violate Rule 41 in stipulating to the dismissal of the action and counsel had at least a colorable legal argument that the district court’s approval was not needed under Rule 23(e) to voluntarily dismiss the claims of the putative class. Therefore, the district court abused its discretion in finding that counsel acted with an improper purpose under Rule 11 and abused the judicial process by stipulating to the dismissal of the federal action for the purpose of seeking a more favorable forum and avoiding an adverse decision. Consequently, the district court also abused its discretion in imposing sanctions upon plaintiffs' counsel for the purported violation. The court reversed the district court's orders and remanded for further proceedings. View "Castleberry v. USAA" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's order approving a class action settlement and awarding attorneys' fees. Plaintiffs filed suit against Blue Buffalo, alleging that the pet food company broke its "True Blue Promise" that its products contained no chicken or poultry by-product meals. The court held that, in light of the Van Horn factors, the settlement was fair, reasonable, and adequate; it was not an abuse of discretion to find that a settlement providing such benefits was fair to all class members, including those who may have had additional state-law claims; and the attorneys' fees and costs were reasonable. View "Keil v. Lopez" on Justia Law

Posted in: Class Action

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Plaintiffs filed a class action in state court alleging that Progressive sold insurance policies with benefits below the statutory minimum required by Minnesota state law. On appeal, plaintiffs challenged the district court's denial of plaintiffs' motion to remand to state court after Progressive removed to federal court. The Eighth Circuit concluded that the district court properly denied the motion for remand because plaintiffs failed to establish the amount they collectively paid in premiums, and without such information, the court could not determine whether it would be legally impossible for them to recover $5,000,000. The Eighth Circuit also concluded that the district court properly dismissed plaintiffs' claim on the ground that the deductible practice challenged by plaintiffs did not violate Minnesota's No Fault Act. Accordingly, the Eighth Circuit affirmed the judgment. View "Dammann v. Progressive Direct Insurance" on Justia Law

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The court affirmed the approval of a class action settlement and grant of attorneys' fees and service awards in a suit alleging that Symantec failed to disclose that consumers could use various free alternatives to re-download their Norton anti-virus software. The district court did not abuse its discretion by approving the settlement without knowing the final administrative costs or the final amount received by the class; in awarding the requested fees where the circumstances of this case justified a large award, and the reasonableness of the award was cross-checked against the lodestar method; in approving the terms of the settlement agreement providing that any minimal remaining funds would be distributed to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, as an appropriate cy pres recipient; and in awarding service awards to each of the named plaintiffs. View "Caligiuri v. Symantec Corp." on Justia Law