Sixth Circuit

The Sixth Circuit vacated an order certifying five statewide classes alleging a common brake defect in Ford Motor Company’s F-150 pickup trucks, remanding the case to the district court “for more searching consideration” of whether commonality under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(a)(2) was satisfied.

In Weidman v. Ford Motor Co., 2022 WL 1071289 (E.D. Mich. Apr. 8, 2022), plaintiffs had filed a putative class action against Ford over an alleged defective brake cylinder in their F-150 pickup trucks.  The district court certified five statewide classes on three issues under Rule 23(c)(4): (1) whether the trucks’ brake systems were defective; (2) whether Ford possessed pre-sale knowledge of the defect; and (3) whether concealed information about the defect would be material to a reasonable buyer.

On a Rule 23(f) petition for interlocutory review, the Sixth Circuit vacated the class certification order, finding that the district court’s “cursory treatment of commonality, one of the four necessary class action ingredients, failed to meet Rule 23’s stringent requirements.”  In Re Ford Motor Co., 2023 WL 7877971, at *1 (6th Cir. Nov. 16, 2023).Continue Reading Sixth Circuit Pumps the Brakes on Class Certification Alleging Common Defects in Ford F-150 Pickup Trucks

In a recent published decision, the Fifth Circuit declined to articulate a rule for the “order and depth in which” it “grapples with constitutional standing and the Rule 23 inquiry.”  Chavez v. Plan Benefit Services, Inc., __ F.4th __, No. 22-50368, 2023 WL 5160393 (5th Cir. Aug. 11, 2023).  The court concluded that the plaintiffs—three employees who participated in health and retirement plans administered by the defendants—had standing to sue on behalf of absent class members who participated in thousands of different benefits plans administered by the defendants.  The court went on to affirm the district court’s certification of two classes, each under both Rules 23(b)(1)(B) and 23(b)(3).Continue Reading Fifth Circuit Declines to Wade Into Circuit Split on Relationship Between Standing and Class Certification

In a decision that could be useful to defendants in highly-regulated industries that face class action claims predicated on violations of federal law, a recent Sixth Circuit opinion confirmed that implied preemption applies to state-law claims predicated on violations of the EPA’s vehicle fuel economy and emissions regulations. This decision confirms the expansion of the implied preemption defense to a new industry, and may signal further expansions in the future. Continue Reading A Closer Look: Sixth Circuit Expands Implied Preemption Defense

The Sixth Circuit recently made it more difficult for plaintiffs to certify a class where individualized inquiries are needed to identify class members. 

In Tarrify Properties LLC v. Cuyahoga County Ohio, 2022 WL 2128816 (6th Cir. June 14, 2022), the Sixth Circuit addressed a claim that Ohio’s tax-foreclosure statute operates as a taking under the federal and Ohio constitutions.  The plaintiff in Tarrify owned delinquent property that was transferred to an authorized land bank, and plaintiff argued that the transfer—which prevented the owner of the delinquent property from recovering the difference between the value of the land and the tax liability—amounted to a taking.  Plaintiff sought certification of a class of owners in which “the total value of [their] property exceeded the amount of the impositions on that property at the time the transfer occurred.”  Id. at *2.  The district court denied plaintiff’s motion for class certification, plaintiff appealed, and the Sixth Circuit affirmed.Continue Reading Sixth Circuit Adds Teeth to Rule 23’s Ascertainability Requirement

            The Supreme Court recently declined to review the Sixth Circuit’s decision in Sevier County Schools Federal Credit Union v. Branch Banking & Trust Co., 990 F.3d 470 (6th Cir. 2021), which presents a potential challenge to enforcing arbitration clauses added to standard account agreements.  The cert denial serves as a reminder that companies introducing arbitration agreements should take care to follow all contractual change-of-term requirements and create a record of affirmative customer assent whenever possible.Continue Reading A Closer Look: Arbitration Clauses Added to Account Agreements Face Risks After Supreme Court Declines Review of Sixth Circuit’s BB&T Decision