Justia U.S. D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Class Action

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This appeal arose out of the Department of the Interior’s misadministration of Native American trust accounts and an ensuing complex, nationwide litigation and settlement. The class action representatives appealed the district court's denial of compensation for expenses incurred during the litigation and settlement process. The court affirmed the district court’s denial of additional compensation for expenses for the lead plaintiff because the district court expressly wrapped those costs into an incentive award given to her earlier. However, the district court erred in categorically rejecting as procedurally barred the class representatives’ claim for the recovery of third-party payments, and remanded for the district court to apply its accumulated expertise and discretion to the question of whether third-party compensation can and should be paid under the Settlement Agreement. View "Cobell v. Jewell" on Justia Law

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The underlying suit alleges that the District does not provide adequate opportunity for community-based care to the District’s Medicaid beneficiaries who are currently receiving long-term care in nursing homes. Petitioner seeks permission to file an interlocutory appeal challenging the district court's decision to certify the class. The court concluded that the District has not met its burden under the grounds for review it invoked to show “manifest error” by the District Court. Accordingly, the court denied the petition to permit an appeal of class certification and the court did not not reach the merits of the District’s substantive claims of error. View "In Re: District of Columbia" on Justia Law

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Maurice McGinnis sought a loan through federal farm credit programs and alleges that he was denied access to such programs by the Department because of his race. This appeal concerns McGinnis' participation in a claims process established by a class action settlement agreement to resolve his and other farmers' discrimination claims. The court concluded that Paragraph 13 of the Consent Decree empowers the District Court to correct an error by the facilitator in transmitting a claim to the wrong track. If it is true that McGinnis selected Track B and the facilitator nevertheless sent his claim package to the adjudicator, the district court did no more than enforce the parties' agreement. The court affirmed the district court's conclusion that it could review the facilitator's claim processing and vacate the adjudicator's determination. The court concluded that McGinnis' request to change his claim to Track B was sufficiently close in time to his submission of the claim package, and the language of the Consent Decree defining what constitutes a "completed claim package" is sufficiently ambiguous, to justify the district court in granting his petition. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court. View "Pigford v. Vilsack" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs, a group of retired U.S. Airways pilots, filed a class action seeking interest for the period of delay in the payment of their retirement benefits. The district court refused to certify the class. The court reversed and remanded, holding that the class members were not required to exhaust internal remedies before bringing their claims in court because they sought enforcement of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act's (ERISA), 29 U.S.C. 1001 et seq., substantive guarantees rather than contractual rights. View "Stephens, et al. v. US Airways Group, Inc., et al." on Justia Law
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Plaintiff filed a securities class action contending that AIG and its board of directors wrongfully reduced the value of certain securities issued by AIG. The court affirmed the district court's dismissal of the suit for lack of subject matter jurisdiction because the Securities Litigation Uniform Standards Act of 1998 (SLUSA), 15 U.S.C. 77p(d) and 78bb(f)(3), does not confer federal jurisdiction over plaintiff's state-law claims. View "Campbell v. AIG, et al." on Justia Law

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Eight African-American Secret Service agents were certified by the district court to sue the Secretary on behalf of a class comprising of all similarly situated agents who were denied promotions to the GS-14 and GS-15 level. The government sought interlocutory review of the class certification order under Rule 23(f). The court concluded that none of the district court's rulings in support of its order certifying the plaintiff class is foreclosed by controlling precedent and the unsettled questions are not likely to evade end-of-the-case review. Accordingly, the court declined to review the district court's order. View "In re: Jeh Johnson" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs, a group of shippers who paid rate-based fuel surcharges, filed an antitrust action alleging that freight railroads engaged in a price-fixing conspiracy. On interlocutory appeal, the freight railroads seek to undo class certification because separate trials were needed to distinguish the shippers the alleged conspiracy injured from those it did not. The court vacated the district court's class certification decision and remanded the case to permit the district court to reconsider its decision in light of Comcast Corp. v. Behrend, which clarified the law of class actions after the district court had certified the class. View "In re: Rail Freight Fuel Surcharge Antitrust Litig." on Justia Law

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The District of Columbia appealed from the structural injunction entered by the district court in this class action challenging the policies and practices of the District's "Child Find" system under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), 20 U.S.C. 1400 et seq. The court vacated the order certifying the class, and consequently, the orders finding liability and ordering relief to that class. The court remanded the case to the district court for reconsideration of whether a class, classes, or subclasses may be certified, and if so, thereafter to redetermine liability and appropriate relief. View "DL, et al v. DC, et al" on Justia Law

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Five Medicaid recipients filed a class action against the District, alleging that the District systematically denied Medicaid coverage of prescription medications without providing the written notice required by federal and D.C. law. The district court dismissed the case on the pleadings, concluding that plaintiffs lacked standing to pursue their claims for injunctive and declaratory relief. At least with regard to one plaintiff, John Doe, the allegations sufficiently established injury, causation, and redressability and the court concluded that Doe had standing to pursue his claims for injunctive and declaratory relief. Therefore, the court had no need to decide whether the other plaintiffs had standing and reversed the judgment, remanding for further proceedings. View "NB, et al. v. DC, et al." on Justia Law

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This was an appeal from the approval of a class action settlement agreement related to the Secretary of the Interior's breach of duty to account for funds held in trust for individual Native Americans. The court concluded that the record failed to confirm either the existence of a purported intra-class conflict or a violation of due process. Rather, the record confirmed that the two plaintiff classes possess the necessary commonality and adequate representation to warrant certification, and that the district court, therefore, did not abuse its discretion in certifying the two plaintiff classes in the settlement or in approving the terms of the settlement as fair, reasonable, and adequate pursuant to Rule 23(e). Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment approving the class settlement agreement. View "Cobell, et al. v. Salazar, et al." on Justia Law