Articles Posted in Class Action

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While district courts generally have discretion under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b)(5) to adjust the terms of an existing consent decree in light of changed circumstances, the issuance of a new injunction must meet the strict preconditions for such exceptional relief set out in Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 65. This case stemmed from a putative class action brought by a broad group of Medicaid applicants and recipients against the District. The parties eventually reached a settlement and a consent decree was issued. Plaintiffs subsequently filed a motion for a preliminary injunction and renewals under the Affordable Care Act. About a week after briefing on the preliminary injunction concluded, plaintiffs filed a motion under Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 60(b)(5) and (b)(6) to "modify" the Consent Decree to achieve precisely the same relief as the pending motion for a preliminary injunction. The district court granted the motion to modify and denied the motion for a preliminary injunction as moot. The DC Circuit held that the district court's order provided brand new relief based on brand new facts alleging violations of a new law without the requisite findings for an injunction, and thus it crossed the line from permissibly modifying into impermissibly enjoining. Accordingly, the court reversed the district court's judgment, vacated the new injunctive relief, and remanded for further proceedings. View "Salazar v. District of Columbia" on Justia Law

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The DC Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of plaintiffs' motion to compel payment of attorneys' fees that they say should have been but were not paid as a result of PBGC doing too little to identify and make payments to class members. The court's de novo interpretation of the wrap-up agreement gave it no reason to question the district court's conclusion that PBGC fully performed notwithstanding class counsel's unsupported assertions to the contrary. The court also held that PBGC did not prevent class counsel's performance of the wrap-up agreement. In this case, the parties intended that the wrap-up would be complete within ten years. This ten year period was unambiguous and has expired. View "Collins v. PBGC" on Justia Law

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The DC Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of plaintiffs' motion to compel payment of attorneys' fees that they say should have been but were not paid as a result of PBGC doing too little to identify and make payments to class members. The court's de novo interpretation of the wrap-up agreement gave it no reason to question the district court's conclusion that PBGC fully performed notwithstanding class counsel's unsupported assertions to the contrary. The court also held that PBGC did not prevent class counsel's performance of the wrap-up agreement. In this case, the parties intended that the wrap-up would be complete within ten years. This ten year period was unambiguous and has expired. View "Collins v. PBGC" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs, a group of CareFirst customers, filed a putative class action after CareFirst suffered a cyber attack in which its customers' personal information was allegedly stolen. The D.C. Circuit reversed the district court's dismissal of the complaint based on lack of standing. In this case, because the district court dismissed for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction without expressly inviting plaintiffs to amend their complaint or giving some other equally clear signal that it intended the action to continue, the order under review ended the district court action, and was thus final and appealable. On the merits, the court held that plaintiffs have standing where the fact that plaintiffs have reasonably spent money to protect themselves against a substantial risk created the potential for them to be made whole by monetary damages. View "Attias v. CareFirst, Inc." on Justia Law

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The district court denied certification for a class consisting of African-American deputy U.S. Marshals alleging racial discrimination by the United States Marshals Service (USMS). The lead plaintiff, Herman Brewer, petitioned for interlocutory review, but while his petition was pending, he settled his individual claims with the Government. The parties then stipulated to dismissal of the action under Fed. R. Civ. P. 41(a)(1)(A)(ii), which allowed the parties voluntarily to dismiss a suit without a court order by filing a jointly signed stipulation with the court. Four current and former deputy U.S. Marshals moved to intervene upon notice of the stipulation. The DC Circuit granted the motion to intervene but declined the petition for review as presenting no question that falls within the court's discretion to hear an interlocutory appeal under the framework announced in Lorazepam & Clorazepate Antitrust Litigation, 289 F.3d 98 (D.C. Cir. 2002). The court remanded for the district court to consider motions to substitute absent class members as plaintiffs and for further proceedings. View "In re: Herman Brewer" on Justia Law

Posted in: Class Action

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In 2011, the district court approved a Settlement Agreement that created a $680 million compensation fund for the benefit of class members consisting of Native American farmers and ranchers who participated in a non-judicial, administrative claims process. In this appeal, two class members challenged the district court's approval of an addendum to the Agreement. The DC Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court, rejecting the claim that the modification clause requires Appellant Mandan's assent before the Agreement can be amended. The DC Circuit held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in finding that the addendum was fair, reasonable, and adequate; the court declined to reach the merits of Mandan's legal challenges to the cy-près provision because these claims were explicitly waived before the district court; the claims were also forfeited because Mandan never raised any legal challenges to the cy-près provision before the district court despite clear opportunities to do so; and there were no good reasons at this point in the litigation to entertain Mandan's legal challenges to the cy-près provisions in the first instance. Finally, the DC Circuit found no merit in Appellant Tingle's breach of fiduciary duty claims. View "Keepseagle v. Perdue" on Justia Law

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

Posted in: Class Action, ERISA