WASHINGTON, D.C. — A Catholic University of America student who filed a putative class complaint against the school over the mid-March transition to online learning due to the novel coronavirus filed an opposition to dismissal on Oct. 9 in a District of Columbia federal court, arguing that she has alleged cognizable claims for breach of contract and unjust enrichment (Daniella Montesano, et al. v. The Catholic University of America, No. 20-1496, D. D.C.).
ATLANTA — Plaintiffs who asserted breach of fiduciary duty class claims against their company and 401(k) plan investment manager filed an unopposed motion for preliminary approval on Oct. 12, seeking a Georgia federal’s court’s approval of an almost $40 million settlement between the parties (Ronda A. Pledger, et al. v. Reliance Trust Co., et al., No. 1:15-cv-04444, N.D. Ga.).
ATLANTA — The 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals has given both sides in a Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) class dispute until Oct. 22 to file petitions for rehearing after a split panel ruled Sept. 17 that a $6,000 incentive award as part of a settlement agreement for the class representative’s “‘role in prosecuting th[e] case on behalf of the [c]lass [m]embers’” violated century-old Supreme Court precedent as it is “part salary and part bounty” (Jenna Dickenson v. NPAS Solutions, LLC, No. 18-12344, 11th Cir., 2020 U.S. App. LEXIS 29682).
NEW YORK — A federal district court did not abuse its discretion in granting final approval to a $6.5 million settlement in a securities class action lawsuit because the court properly considered each of the nine factors established in City of Detroit v. Grinnell Corp. before determining that the proposed settlement agreement was fair, reasonable and adequate, a Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel ruled Oct. 2 (Aric McIntire, et al. v. ODS Capital LLC, et al., No. 19-3748, 2nd Cir., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 31434).
RIVERSIDE, Calif. — A federal judge in California on Oct. 7 modified and clarified a preliminary injunction issued in April in a class complaint by individuals being held in federal immigration detention centers who are seeking release of high-risk individuals due to the novel coronavirus pandemic due to “noncompliance” by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) (Faour Abdallah Fraihat, et al. v. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, et al., No. 19-1546, C.D. Calif.).
PITTSBURGH — A putative class complaint accusing a retailer of cluttered isles and pathways in its Pennsylvania stores that impede disabled shoppers’ access to the stores survives a motion for dismissal as it sufficiently pleads facts of denial of “full and equal access” to its goods and services, a federal judge in Pennsylvania ruled Sept. 29 (Ronald J. Migyanko, et al. v. Kohl’s Corporation, No. 20-328, W.D. Pa., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 179260).
LANSING, Mich. — In two of the latest rulings in putative class complaints by students accusing multiple Michigan universities of breach of contract and unjust enrichment in connection with their responses in mid-March to the novel coronavirus pandemic, a Michigan judge on Oct. 1 issued two similar opinions partially granting the universities’ motions for summary disposition, finding that no express contracts existed regarding tuition, room and board and fees but permitting the students to proceed with alternative claims for unjust enrichment (Annissa Stenger v. Ferris State University, et al., No. 20-84, Mich. Clms., 2020 Mich. Ct. Cl. LEXIS 5, James Allen v. Michigan State University, et al., No. 20-57, Mich. Clms., 2020 Mich. Ct. Cl. LEXIS 6).
CHICAGO — A collection letter that included an itemized breakdown and made statements regarding no interest or fees being added during the present time “would not confuse or mislead the reasonable unsophisticated consumer,” a Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel ruled Oct. 8, affirming dismissal of a putative class complaint alleging that the letter violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) (Joseph Degroot, et al. v. Client Services, Incorporated, No. 20-1089, 7th Cir., 2020 U.S. App. LEXIS 31951).
PORTLAND, Ore. — A split Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on Oct. 9 denied a motion for an emergency stay by two federal agencies in a putative class complaint by journalists and legal observers who claim that they have been targeted by police and federal agents while covering protests in Portland, writing that the agencies have not shown a likelihood of success on the merits or sufficiently showed irreparable harm if the preliminary injunction was “not stayed pending a decision on the merits of their appeal” (Index Newspapers LLC, et al. v. United States Marshals Service, et al., No. 20-35739, 9th Cir., 2020 U.S. App. LEXIS 32103).
NEW YORK — A federal judge in New York on Sept. 29 certified a class of participants in and beneficiaries of an individual account defined-contribution plan for Verizon Communications Inc. management employees who allege breach of fiduciary duty for failure to properly monitor and take action regarding a poorly performing investment option (Melina N. Jacobs, et al. v. Verizon Communications, Inc., et al., No.1 6-1082, S.D. N.Y., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 179421).
SAN FRANCISCO — A putative class complaint alleging age and gender discrimination by Facebook Inc. in the purported exclusion of financial services advertisements from female and older users of the social network was dismissed Oct. 2, with a California federal magistrate judge finding that the lead plaintiff failed to plead the necessary injury-in-fact to establish standing under Article III of the U.S. Constitution (Neuhtah Opiotennione v. Facebook Inc., No. 19-7185, N.D. Calif., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 184367).
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A California federal judge on Oct. 7 granted preliminary approval of a $10 million settlement in a putative wage and hour class action against a staffing agency, one of its franchisees and a wine servicing company because an issue of commonality in the class had been resolved (Michael H. Stoddart, et al. v. Express Services, et al., No. 12-1054, E.D. Calif.).
EAST ST. LOUIS, Ill. — A federal judge in Illinois on Oct. 7 granted preliminary approval of a more than $26 million class settlement reached in an Employee Retirement Income Security Act church plan exemption case involving two defined-benefit plans offered by a nonprofit health care corporation (Sheilar Smith, et al. v. OSF Healthcare System, et al., No. 16-467, S.D. Ill.).
NEW YORK — A federal judge in New York in an order filed Oct. 7 granted preliminary approval to a class settlement that calls for Cornell University and the fiduciaries of two its retirement plans to reimburse plan participants $225,000 for breaching their duties of loyalty and prudence under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (Casey Cunningham, et al. v. Cornell University, et al., No. 16-6525, S.D. N.Y.).
NEW YORK — A federal judge in New York on Oct. 7 granted final approval of a $9 million settlement of a class action lawsuit over allegedly excessive fees charged to participants in JPMorgan Chase Bank N.A.’s 401(k) plan and awarded almost $3 million in attorney fees to class counsel (Terre Beach, et al. v. JPMorgan Chase Bank, National Association, et al., No. 17-563, S.D. N.Y.).
GREAT FALLS, Mont. — A federal judge in Montana on Oct. 5 ruled that a Montana consumer who brought a putative class complaint may proceed with her state law claim against a clothing company for improperly charging sales tax to certain consumers, but noted that the penalties, if the claim is successful, “seem outside the spirit of” the law as the company already refunded consumers (Melissa Hill, et al. v. LLR, Inc., et al., No. 18-120, D. Mont., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 184160).
CHICAGO — Work performed in Canada on which no Social Security taxes are paid is not “employment” as defined in Section 410(a)(C) of the Social Security Act, and the totalization agreement between the United States and Canada doesn’t affect the application of the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) to Social Security benefits being collected by a class of dual citizens who are also receiving benefits under equivalent Canadian plans, a split Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel ruled Oct. 5 (Lorraine Beeler, et al. v. Andrew M. Saul, et al., No. 19-2099, 7th Cir., 2020 U.S. App. LEXIS 31614).
NEWPORT NEWS, Va. — An employee class action alleging that an employer violated the Employee Retirement Income Security Act by miscalculating benefits owed to retirees survived a summary judgment bid by the employer Sept. 29 when a Virginia federal judge adopted a magistrate judge's findings that experts for both sides are reliable and that the issues involved "may be resolved by a reasonable factfinder endorsing either expert's testimony" (Roger A. Herndon v. Huntington Ingalls Industries, Inc., No. 19-52, E.D. Va.).
BALTIMORE — A federal judge in Maryland on Oct. 2 certified a nationwide class for borrowers who claim that a loan servicer for federally backed loans violated the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA) by engaging in a kickback scheme with a title services company that resulted in class members paying more for services, finding that the plaintiffs sufficiently alleged that they had standing under Article III of the U.S. Constitution and that the proposed class satisfied the requirements of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23.
LOS ANGELES — A California federal judge on Sept. 18 granted final approval of a $12.4 million settlement between aerospace company Northrop Grumman Corp. and class action plaintiffs who sued over alleged breaches of fiduciary duties in the management of the company's 401(k) retirement savings plan after determining that the settlement is fair, reasonable and adequate (Clifton Marshall, et al. v. Northrop Grumman Corp., et al., No. 16-6794, C.D. Calif., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 177051).