Settlement

The Fourth Circuit recently reinstated a wrongful death suit against a defendant, holding that the release in a settlement of consumer class actions against the defendant did not preclude plaintiff’s personal injury suit against that same defendant.  See In re Lumber Liquidators Chinese-Manufactured Flooring Prod. Mktg., Sales Pracs. & Prod. Liab. Litig., — F. 4th —, 2024 WL 174363 (4th Cir. Jan. 17, 2024).  The Fourth Circuit’s decision is notable given that class members—including plaintiff—explicitly agreed to release all personal injury claims against the defendant, yet the Fourth Circuit held that the plain language of the release was limited by the “identical factual predicate” doctrine and allowed the class member to raise this challenge in a subsequent lawsuit.Continue Reading Fourth Circuit Holds That Consumer Class Action Release Does Not Necessarily Release Personal Injury Claims

Cy pres (or “next best”) provisions are a relatively common provision of class action settlements.  The cy pres doctrine permits funds from a cash settlement in a class action to be sent to a third party, usually a charitable organization with a mission related to the claims in the lawsuit, rather than to class members.  Cy pres provisions are typically used for residual funds in a settlement pool or, less commonly, when class members are hard to identify.  But cy pres provisions have come under increasing scrutiny, as evidenced by an Ohio federal court’s recent rejection of a class action settlement based solely on its cy pres provision.  Hawes v. Macy’s Inc., No. 1:17-CV-754, 2023 WL 8811499 (S.D. Ohio Dec. 20, 2023). Continue Reading Federal Court Rejects Class Action Settlement Over Cy Pres Provision

On December 5, 2023, the Ninth Circuit vacated a decision by a district court approving a $5.2 million class action settlement between plaintiff Lisa Kim and Tinder, Inc., a mobile dating app.  The case alleged that Tinder’s pricing scheme—which charges users over the age of 29 more for its premium packages than users under the age of 29—is discriminatory and violates California’s Unruh Civil Rights Act, Cal. Civ. Code §§ 51 et seq, and California’s unfair competition law, Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code §§ 17200 et seq.  This was the second time the Ninth Circuit reversed the district court’s approval of a class settlement in this case. Continue Reading Ninth Circuit Rejects Class Action Settlement in Tinder Case for the Second Time

On October 25, 2023, the Eleventh Circuit overruled several objections to a $2.67 billion antitrust class action settlement agreement that was the product of years of negotiations between Blue Cross and classes of its past and present health plan subscribers.  Two objections, raised by Home Depot, focused on (i) the settlement’s release of antitrust claims arising from Blue Cross’s conduct, and, relatedly, (ii) the adequacy of representation for an injunctive class of plaintiffs who might have future claims based on that conduct.Continue Reading Eleventh Circuit Upholds Blue Cross Blue Shield Subscriber Settlement Over Antitrust and Public Policy Objections

Courts and litigants continue to grapple with the new frontier of artificial intelligence (“AI”).  One recent case in California demonstrates a new wrinkle in this evolving landscape—the use of AI to aggregate class claims.

Because class settlements bind absent class members who do not object or opt out, Rule 23 requires courts to carefully review and approve them as “fair, reasonable, and adequate.”  An important part of this inquiry is making sure class members are given adequate notice of the terms of the proposed settlement and their rights.  When class members are required to submit claims to access settlement benefits, parties often turn to professional claims administration companies to assist in providing notice and facilitating the claims process.  Under Rule 23, courts closely monitor the information that flows from class counsel and claims administrators to putative class members to make sure it complies with due process.Continue Reading California Federal Court Clamps Down on ‘En Masse’ Class Claims Identified by AI

In Moses v. New York Times Co., 2023 WL 5281138 (2d Cir. Aug. 17, 2023), the Second Circuit vacated and remanded the approval of a class action settlement because the district court applied the wrong legal standard in determining that the settlement was fair.  But in doing so, the court reiterated that incentive awards for class action representatives are permissible in the Second Circuit.Continue Reading Second Circuit Holds that Rule 23(e) Prohibits Presumption of Fairness of Arm’s-Length Negotiated Class Settlements

The Eleventh Circuit recently addressed two aspects of Article III standing relevant to class action settlements: the standing of a class member to object, and the standing of class representatives to seek injunctive relief—and thus whether such injunctive relief should be given any weight as part of the approval process.Continue Reading Eleventh Circuit Analyzes Article III Standing in Class Action Settlement Context

The First Circuit recently vacated and remanded a district court’s approval of a proposed class action settlement “because the absence of separate settlement counsel for distinct groups of class members makes it too difficult to determine whether the settlement treated class members equitably.” Murray v. Grocery Deliver E-Servs. USA Inc., — F.4th —, 2022

In Drazen v. Pinto, the Eleventh Circuit vacated a class settlement and held that in order to receive individual damages (whether through a settlement or otherwise), all class members must have Article III standing under Circuit precedent.  2022 WL 2963470, at *6 (11th Cir. July 27, 2022).  The decision gives defendants another tool to defeat class certification, while at the same time makes it more difficult to include class members that lack standing in classwide settlements. Continue Reading Eleventh Circuit Holds that All Class Members Must Have Standing Under Circuit Law to Recover Individual Damages

The en banc Eleventh Circuit recently denied a petition to rehear the case of Johnson v. NPAS Solutions, LLC (Johnson II).  See 2022 WL 3083717 (11th Cir. Aug. 3, 2022).  The initial opinion in Johnson relied on two Supreme Court decisions from the 1880s to hold that district courts can never, under