Earlier this week, a Ninth Circuit panel sided with a coalition of business groups to affirm a preliminary injunction that stopped California state officials from enforcing California’s AB 51, a 2019 law that would have effectively prevented the formation of employment arbitration agreements in California. (Mayer Brown lawyers filed the lawsuit on behalf of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the California Chamber of Commerce and led briefing and argument in the Ninth Circuit.) This decision eliminates the considerable uncertainty about the use of arbitration to resolve employment disputes that had been caused by the enactment of AB 51 andContinue Reading Ninth Circuit Upholds Injunction Blocking a California Law That Would Have Severely Limited Employment Arbitration Agreements
Yesterday, the Supreme Court held in Viking River Cruises, Inc. v. Moriana (pdf) that the Federal Arbitration Act preempts a California rule invalidating arbitration agreements that provide for arbitration of an employee’s own claims under California’s Private Attorney General Act (PAGA), but waive the employee’s ability to assert PAGA claims affecting others.
The decision is enormously important to companies seeking to enforce workplace arbitration agreements in California. The decision also provides businesses with powerful arguments that California laws restricting arbitration in the consumer setting are preempted as well. (Disclosure: we filed an amicus brief (pdf) in support of the petition…Continue Reading Supreme Court strikes down California rule barring individualized arbitration of California PAGA claims
The class action plaintiffs’ bar celebrated yesterday’s Supreme Court’s decision in Tyson Foods, Inc. v. Bouaphakeo (pdf), rejecting Tyson’s challenge to class certification. One lawyer called it “a huge David v. Goliath victory.”
But when plaintiffs’ lawyers wake up this morning and focus on the details of the Court’s opinion, they are in for a serious post-celebration hangover.
The Court’s reasoning for the first time maps a clear route for defendants to use in challenging plaintiffs’ use of statistical evidence in class actions. It also provides important guidance for defendants about preserving the ability to challenge plaintiffs’ reliance on statistics.
Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(b)(3), a court may certify a suit for damages as a class action when “there are questions of law or fact common to the class” that “predominate over any questions affecting only individual members.” Similar certification standards apply when a plaintiff seeks to certify a collective action under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Yesterday, in its highly anticipated decision in Tyson Foods, Inc. v. Bouaphakeo (pdf), the Supreme Court affirmed the certification of an FLSA collective action where the evidence tying class members together was a study of a representative sample of similarly situated workers.
Continue Reading Supreme Court affirms certification of FLSA collective action in Tyson Foods, Inc. v. Bouaphakeo
The Supreme Court on Tuesday heard oral argument in Tyson Foods, Inc. v. Bouaphakeo, No. 14-1146, a case that has been closely watched for its potential to narrow the circumstances in which a class action may be certified under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23 and a collective action for unpaid wages certified under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). We previously described this case in prior blog posts. One of us attended the argument, and the other closely reviewed the transcript (pdf). Our combined reaction: The anticipated decision in this case may focus on an FLSA issue and, if so, then it seems unlikely to mark a sea change in the rules governing Rule 23 class actions.
Continue Reading Supreme Court Hears Argument in Tyson Foods v. Bouaphakeo—and a Blockbuster Class Certification Ruling Seems Less Likely
A plaintiff hopes to represent a class to pursue two sets of wage-and-hour claims but runs into headwinds in the district court. First, one set of claims disappears because his legal theory doesn’t withstand a motion to dismiss. Then class certification is denied on what was left. After that, the defendant— invoking Rule 68 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure—offers to settle “any liability claimed in this action.” Under Rule 68, if the case goes to judgment and the plaintiff wins less than the offer, he would be liable for the defendant’s costs for any proceedings after the offer…
Continue Reading Yes, you really did settle all your claims when you said you did: Ninth Circuit dismisses appeal of class certification denial by plaintiff who accepted Rule 68 offer
Today is Halloween, an occasion when our thoughts turn to jack o’lanterns, ghosts, and zombies. We are particularly fascinated by zombies—the dead returned to life. But we’re not the only ones. In a decision earlier this week, a majority of the National Labor Relations Board voted to reanimate the dead.
The Board’s zombie of choice? Its decision nearly three years ago in D.R. Horton (pdf), in which the Board sought to push back on arbitration agreements that require individual arbitration rather than class or collective actions. As our readers know by now, most courts have accepted the Supreme Court’s clear …
Continue Reading NLRB Refuses To Yield On Anti-Arbitration Ruling Despite Near-Unanimous Rejection By Courts
There seem to be two prevailing conceptions of class actions. In one view, a class action is a way of determining many similar claims at once by evaluating common evidence that reliably establishes liability (and lays a ground work for efficiently calculating damages) for each class member. That is, the class device produces the same results as individual actions would, but more efficiently. In the other view—one we consider misguided—a “class” of plaintiffs complaining about similar conduct can have their claims determined through statistical sampling even if no common evidence will provide a common answer to common factual or legal questions. Instead, this theory holds, the results of mini-trials can simply be extrapolated to the entire class, even if individual results would vary widely.
Last week, the Ninth Circuit took a step deeper into the second camp in Jimenez v. Allstate Insurance Co. (pdf), delivering a ringing endorsement of statistical sampling as a way to establish liability as well as damages.
In ERISA stock-drop class actions, plaintiffs routinely allege that their employers breached a duty of prudence by permitting employees to invest their retirement assets in their company’s stock. Until today, defendants typically defended against such claims by invoking a judicially crafted presumption that offering company stock was prudent. Today, in Fifth Third Bancorp v. Dudenhoeffer, No. 12-751 (pdf), the Supreme Court rejected that presumption.
But all hope is not lost for stock-drop defendants. Much of the work previously done by the presumption of prudence will now be done by the substantive requirements of the duty of prudence. The Court…
Continue Reading ERISA Stock-Drop Class Actions: As One Door Opens for Plaintiffs, Another Closes
Suppose that you’re a trial court considering a motion for class certification. And suppose that the parties present you with two competing statutory interpretations. One legal standard permits the case to be adjudicated with common evidence. And the other standard would require individualized inquiries. What should you do? Should you decide what the law is and then see whether the putative class claims can be tried in a single trial?
The surprising answer of the California Court of Appeal is in Hall v. Rite Aid Corp. (pdf) is “No.” Hall appears to conclude that commonality and predominance need not be…
Continue Reading California Court Says No Need To Resolve Disputes Over Substantive Law In Evaluating Whether Class Can Be Certified