Justia U.S. 8th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Class Action
Ahmad v. City of St. Louis
This case arose out of several days of street protests during the September 2017 riots that occurred following the acquittal of a former St. Louis police officer for the on-duty shooting of a black man. Plaintiffs are a protester who allegedly was maced, a person whose cell phone was seized and searched as he filmed arrests, and an observer who was allegedly exposed to chemical agents and arrested on September 17.The Amended Complaint alleged that the City (i) violated the First Amendment by retaliating against plaintiffs for engaging in protected expressive activity; (ii) violated the Fourth Amendment because its custom, practice, and failure to train and supervise caused unlawful seizures and the use of excessive force by police officers; and (iii) violated the Fourteenth Amendment when officers failed to warn before deploying chemical agents, failed to provide opportunities to disperse, and arbitrarily enforced two ordinances of the St. Louis Code. The City subsequently appealed the district court's order denying its motion to dissolve the preliminary injunction that included affirmative mandates pending a prompt trial on the merits of plaintiffs' claims for a permanent injunction, and the district court's order granting class certification.The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of the City's motion to dissolve the temporary injunction and remanded with directions to vacate and dissolve the injunction no later than October 31, 2021, if it has not been replaced with a final order either granting a permanent injunction or denying injunctive relief. The court explained that, given the rigorous 42 U.S.C. 1983 burdens of proof, the evidence at the preliminary injunction hearing relating to the events of September 2017, while relevant and sufficient to persuade the court to grant a preliminary injunction pendente lite, will not be sufficient to warrant permanent injunctive relief imposing the same levels of indefinite federal court control over the City's law enforcement responsibilities.The court vacated the class certification order without prejudice to plaintiffs renewing their request after a final order has been entered on their claim for permanent injunctive relief, at which point the district court can better assess whether a Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(b)(2) class is appropriate and necessary to afford proper equitable relief. The court explained that, given the individualized inquiries plaintiffs' disparate claims require, the massive class action certified neither promotes the efficiency and economy underlying class actions nor pays sufficient heed to the federalism and separation of powers principles in Supreme Court and Eighth Circuit precedent. View "Ahmad v. City of St. Louis" on Justia Law
Ford v. TD Ameritrade Holding Corp.
A TD Ameritrade customer filed suit against the company and two other defendants for securities fraud in the District of New Jersey. The lead plaintiff was appointed for a group of investors who purchased and sold securities through TD Ameritrade between 2011 and 2014. Plaintiff alleges that TD Ameritrade's order routing practices violate the company's "duty of best execution" by systematically sending customer orders to trading venues that pay the company the most money, rather than to venues that provide the best outcome for customers.The Eighth Circuit reversed and remanded the district court's certification of a class under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(b)(3), concluding that even with the proposed algorithm, determining economic loss in this case entails individualized inquiry inconsistent with the predominance requirement of Rule 23. Therefore, the prevalence of these individualized inquiries precludes class certification under Rule 23(b)(3). Furthermore, because economic loss cannot be presumed, ascertaining which class members have sustained injury means individual issues predominate over common ones. Finally, the court concluded that, by defining the class to include only those customers who were harmed by TD Ameritrade's alleged failure to seek best execution, the district court certified a class in which membership depends upon having a valid claim on the merits. Such a class is impermissible because it allows putative class members to seek a remedy but not be bound by an adverse judgment, and fail-safe classes are also unmanageable. View "Ford v. TD Ameritrade Holding Corp." on Justia Law
Custom Hair Designs by Sandy v. Central Payment Co.
Plaintiffs filed a class action against CPAY, alleging breach of contract, state-law fraudulent concealment, and violation of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO). Plaintiffs, a class of over 160,000 small retailers using CPAY for credit card processing, allege that CPAY misrepresented a number of fees, added fees with no value to retailers, and inflated fees without prior approval from issuing banks.The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's certification of the proposed class, holding that the district court engaged in a sufficiently rigorous analysis of Federal Rule 23 certification and made specific findings of fact. The court also held that the district court did not err in determining that common questions predominate; that plaintiffs' claims are typical of class members; and that plaintiffs will represent class interests adequately. Finally, the district court did not abuse its discretion in finding that a class action is the superior mechanism to try this case. View "Custom Hair Designs by Sandy v. Central Payment Co." on Justia Law
Stuart v. Global Tel*Link Corp.
Plaintiff, an inmate who had used Global's services, brought a putative class action alleging that Global's rates and fees were unjust and unreasonable under the Federal Communications Act (FCA) and that Global had unjustly enriched itself in violation of state laws. After the regulatory backdrop for the inmate calling service industry changed, the district court decertified all classes and granted summary judgment for Global on all claims.The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's decisions on class decertification and summary judgment in favor of Global. The court held that the district court acted within its discretion in deciding that common questions no longer predominated, and that a class action was not the proper vehicle for resolving this type of claim. The court held that the district court did not err in dismissing plaintiffs' individual claims that the rates were unjust and unreasonable, and plaintiffs' common law unjust enrichment claim. Finally, the district court properly decertified the class action without seeking a determination by the agency on a methodology for segregating ancillary fees. The court dismissed Global's conditional cross-appeal as moot. View "Stuart v. Global Tel*Link Corp." on Justia Law
Harris v. Union Pacific Railroad Co.
The Eighth Circuit reversed the district court's order certifying a class under Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 23(b)(2) and (b)(3), holding that the district court abused is discretion in finding that plaintiffs met the cohesiveness, and predominance and superiority requirements. In this case, plaintiff and other current and former employees of Union Pacific moved to certify a class action for a claim under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The district court granted a hybrid class defined to include all employees who have been or will be subject to a fitness-for-duty evaluation because of a reportable health event from September 18, 2014 until the end of the case.The court held that the individualized inquiries in this case cannot be addressed in a manner consistent with Rule 23; determining whether the policy is job related and consistent with business necessity requires answering many individual questions; both the text of the ADA and the record evidence demonstrate that the district court would be required to consider the unique circumstances of each position in question to determine whether the policy is unlawfully discriminatory; and thus these individualized questions defeated both predominance and cohesiveness. View "Harris v. Union Pacific Railroad Co." on Justia Law
Wullschleger v. Royal Canin U.S.A., Inc.
Plaintiffs filed a putative class action alleging that defendants deceived plaintiffs into believing their products were approved by the FDA. After the district court remanded the case back to state court, the Eighth Circuit granted defendants' petition for review under 28 U.S.C. 1453(c)(1), limiting review to the issue of federal question jurisdiction.The court held that federal question jurisdiction exists in this case, because plaintiffs rely explicitly on federal law throughout their pleadings and their prayer for relief invokes federal jurisdiction where it seeks injunctive and declaratory relief that necessarily requires the interpretation and application of federal law, including the Food Drug and Cosmetic Act. Therefore, based on the allegations in the complaint and relief sought, the court found that a federal issue surrounding the state law claims is necessarily raised, actually disputed, substantial, and capable of resolution in federal court without disrupting the federal-state balance approved by Congress. Accordingly, the court vacated and remanded for further proceedings. View "Wullschleger v. Royal Canin U.S.A., Inc." on Justia Law
Hale v. Emerson Electric Co.
The Eighth Circuit reversed the district court's order certifying a nationwide class of plaintiffs in a case involving allegedly deceptive advertising practices. The action arose out of allegedly deceptive advertising associated with RIDGID brand vacuums. The district concluded that all class members' claims would be governed by Missouri law and thus determined class resolution was appropriate.The court held that the claims of non-Missouri residents did not relate to “trade or commerce . . . in or from the state of Missouri” and the Missouri Merchandising Practices Act could not be applied to them. The court also held that the district court should have conducted separate choice of law analyses for the breach of warranty and unjust enrichment claims. Accordingly, the court remanded for further proceedings. View "Hale v. Emerson Electric Co." on Justia Law
Pirozzi v. Massage Envy Franchising
Plaintiffs filed a class action in state court against Massage Envy, alleging that the company violated the Missouri Merchandising Practices Act (MMPA) when advertisements for its one hour massage session failed to disclose that the session included ten minutes to undress, dress, and consult with the therapist. Massage Envy removed the case to district court under the Class Action Fairness Act.The Eighth Circuit held that the district court misapplied controlling Supreme Court and Eighth Circuit CAFA precedents. The court held that the district court erred when it evaluated the MMPA violations alleged in plaintiffs' second amended petition and remanded the class action to state court because "it is more likely that a reasonable fact finder would not award several million dollars in punitive damages." In this case, the district court's consideration went to the merits of plaintiffs' claims. The court held that plaintiffs' allegation that they were entitled to punitive damages in an unstated amount raised the amount in controversy to more than $5 million, whether or not they ultimately prove they were entitled to the punitive damages they claimed. Finally, the court also held that when Massage Envy investigated and filed a notice of removal based on the results of its own amount-in-controversy investigation, the notice was not untimely. Therefore, the court granted the petition for permission to appeal, reversed the July 2019 order of remand, denied plaintiffs' motion for remand, and remanded for further proceedings. View "Pirozzi v. Massage Envy Franchising" on Justia Law
Atwood v. Peterson
Plaintiff filed a class action in state court against Walgreens and others, claiming that the Walgreens Balance Rewards program violated Arkansas's statutory prohibition on price discrimination in the sale of manufactured products. After defendants removed to federal court under the Class Action Fairness Act of 2005 (CAFA), the district court denied remand and granted defendants' motion to dismiss.The Eighth Circuit affirmed, holding that the district court did not err by finding that the district managers were not significant defendants under CAFA, and in concluding that they had been fraudulently joined in an attempt to defeat diversity jurisdiction. In light of the court's determination that the district managers' conduct did not form a significant basis for plaintiff's claim, the court held that plaintiff failed to meet his burden of establishing that the local controversy exception to CAFA jurisdiction applies. The court rejected plaintiff's argument that the district court was without jurisdiction to decide the merits of his case because he did not have Article III standing. Finally, the court rejected plaintiff's claim that the district court erred in dismissing his complaint with prejudice. View "Atwood v. Peterson" on Justia Law
Rawa v. Migliaccio
Objector was a member of a California class action against Monsanto that alleged that the company used misleading labeling on its Roundup concentrate herbicide. After certification of the class, class counsel filed this action on behalf of a putative class of consumers from the other 49 states. Objector objected to certification of the nationwide class and to the fairness of the settlement on several grounds. The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's overruling of the objection and grant of final approval. The court held that the class members were adequately represented and that the settlement was reasonable, fair, and adequate. View "Rawa v. Migliaccio" on Justia Law