LOS ANGELES — A federal judge in California on Feb. 19 granted summary judgment to franchisor 7-Eleven Inc. on unpaid overtime claims brought by franchisees on behalf of themselves and a class, finding that the franchisees failed to provide sufficient evidence; however, the judge permitted the franchisees to proceed with their claims seeking unpaid reimbursements (Serge Haitayan, et al. v. 7-Eleven, Inc., No. 17-7454, C.D. Calif.).
ATLANTA — Reversing and remanding the denial of DIRECTV LLC’s motion to compel arbitration of a putative privacy class claim against it, an 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on Feb. 19 found that the scope of an arbitration provision within a plaintiff’s customer agreement covered a claim that the satellite television carrier violated federal law by sharing customer data with an expert witness in the course of litigating a Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) lawsuit (Sebastian Cordoba, et al. v. DIRECTV LLC, No. 18-14832, 11th Cir., 2020 U.S. App. LEXIS 5024).
PHOENIX — A settlement agreement in an Arizona federal class lawsuit over motel guest lists being voluntarily turned over to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents by Motel 6 Operating L.P. and G6 Hospitality LLC, doing business as Motel 6, that provides up to $10 million was granted final approval on Feb. 18 over protests by the Arizona attorney general who argued in a Feb. 6 amicus brief that the settlement provided the majority of the settlement funds to cy pres recipients (Jane V., et al. v. Motel 6 Operating L.P., et al., No. 18-242, D. Ariz.).
ATLANTA — A woman who sued a timeshare marketer under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) after receiving multiple unwanted phone calls filed a petition for rehearing en banc in the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Feb. 14, arguing that the appellate panel’s Jan. 27 ruling on the interpretation of automatic telephone dialing systems (ATDS) that addressed her claims and similar TCPA claims in another case has already been “squarely rejected” by the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals (Melanie Glasser v. Hilton Grand Vacations Company, LLC, No. 18-14499, 9th Cir.).
SAN DIEGO — A California federal judge on Feb. 10 found a $1.75 million settlement of a wage-and-hour class action against retailer Ulta Beauty over such things as unpaid overtime and inconsistent meal breaks to be “fair, reasonable, and adequate,” granting final approval to the agreement, while reducing requested attorney fees and service award amounts that she deemed excessive (Raychael Tellez, et al. v. Ulta Salon, Cosmetics & Fragrance Inc., et al., No. 3:18-cv-02480, S.D. Calif., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 23372).
LOS ANGELES — A federal judge in California on Feb. 14 entered an in chambers order granting final approval of a $215 million settlement ending a lawsuit against the University of Southern California (USC) for alleged decades of sexual abuse by the school’s gynecologist; a proposed final approval order and judgment was filed the same day (In re USC Student Health Center Litigation, No. 18-4258, C.D. Calif.).
SEATTLE — A Washington federal judge on Feb. 6 denied an insured’s motion for class certification of a breach of contract and bad faith suit filed against an auto insurer that terminated the insured’s personal injury protection (PIP) benefits after determining that a class action would not be an appropriate method to resolve claims arising out of the termination of PIP benefits certification (Mikeshia Morrison, et al. v. Esurance Insurance Co., No. 18-1316, W.D. Wash., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 20555).
SAN DIEGO — Shareholders in a securities class action alleging that SeaWorld Entertainment Inc., its 100 percent shareholder and certain of its current and former senior executives asked a federal judge in California on Feb. 11 to grant preliminary approval of a $65 million settlement between the parties stemming from the defendants’ alleged concealment of the negative impact the documentary “Blackfish” had on the company’s business and financial condition (Lou Baker v. SeaWorld Entertainment Inc., et al., No. 14-2129, S.D. Calif.).
BROOKLYN, N.Y. — Finding a variety of failures with discovery requests and motions filed by the brother of a deceased nursing home resident and parties associated with the facility, a New York federal magistrate judge on Jan. 23 declined to bifurcate or “trifurcate” merits and class certification discovery, ordering consolidated discovery and directing that future filings be in accord with federal guidelines (Walter Chow v. SentosaCare LLC, et al., No. 1:19-cv-03541, E.D. N.Y., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 20770).
FRESNO, Calif. — In reconsidering an order based on new controlling authority from the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, a California federal judge on Jan. 31 granted summary judgment to former employers of home cleaners on the ostensible agency theory of liability in a wages dispute (Angela Cruz, et al. v. MM 879 Inc., et al., No. 15-01563, E.D. Calif., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 16333).
PHILADELPHIA — A hotel franchisor was awarded summary judgment by a federal judge in Pennsylvania on Feb. 6 in a suit brought by a former housekeeper accusing it of failing to pay overtime wages in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and Pennsylvania Minimum Wage Act (PWMA), ruling that it could not be found liable as a joint employer because a franchise agreement did not give the franchisor any power over the employment policies (Gina DiFlavis v. Choice Hotels International Inc., et al., No. 18-3914, E.D. Pa., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 20801).
ATLANTA — In a Jan. 31 class action complaint filed in Georgia federal court, pension plan participants and beneficiaries allege that the use of an outdated mortality table to calculate their retirement benefits was a breach of fiduciary duty under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (Timothy Brown, et al. v. United Parcel Service of America Inc., et al., No. 20-460, N.D. Ga.).
NEW ORLEANS — In a Feb. 4 joint motion, a plaintiff class and a retirement plan request preliminary approval of a $1.82 million settlement of allegations that the plan’s imposition of an actuarial charge represented an unlawful cutback of pension benefits (Aman Joseph Claudet Jr. v. Cytec Retirement Plan, et al., No. 17-10027, E.D. La.).
SAN JOSE, Calif. — Google LLC was hit with another class complaint alleging violation of the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA) in California federal court on Feb. 6, with an Illinois man claiming that the tech giant has been using its “Google Photos” app to upload and store “millions of ‘face templates’” without users’ knowledge or consent (Brandon Molander v. Google LLC, No. 5:20-cv-00918, N.D. Calif.).
CHICAGO — Clearview AI Inc. was hit with a putative class complaint in Illinois federal court on Feb. 5, marking the third federal suit filed against the tech firm in two weeks over its creation of “a dystopian surveillance database” with the biometric identifiers of millions of people (Anthony Hall v. Clearview AI Inc., et al., No. 1:20-cv-00846, N.D. Ill.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — A federal judicial panel on Feb. 6 centralized in a Florida federal court 141 federal lawsuits alleging that the over-the-counter heartburn drug Zantac contains or metabolizes into N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA), an alleged carcinogen (In Re: Zantac [Ranitidine] Products Liability Litigation, MDL Docket No. 2924, JPMDL, No. 20-md-2924, S.D. Fla., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 19881).
Recent class action lawsuits filed in federal courts across the country include complaints alleging fraud by Major League Baseball and two teams, defective brakes, failure to protect medical data, unsolicited texts and unlawful vehicle seizures.
CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. — A federal judge in Tennessee on Feb. 3 granted preliminary approval of a collective and class action settlement of age bias charges against Volkswagen Aktiengesellschaft (Volkswagen AG) and its subsidiaries through which the employer has agreed to change hiring and promotion processes and procedures for investigating complaints of discrimination; the settlement provides no monetary relief for the class (Jonathan Manlove, et al. v. Volkswagen Aktiengesellschaft, et al., No. 18-145, E.D. Tenn.).
LOS ANGELES — A California judge on Jan. 31 in a one-page order granted a motion to intervene filed by California’s Division of Labor Standards and Enforcement (DLSE) in a gender discrimination case with a pending settlement between Riot Games Inc. and a class of female employees (Melanie McCracken, et al. v. Riot Games, Inc., et al., No. 18STCV03957, Calif. Super., Los Angeles Co.).
CINCINNATI — A Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on Jan. 31 granted a petition for permission to appeal filed by a propane company seeking a ruling on whether a class action filed by the Michigan attorney general under state consumer protection laws is a class action as defined by the Class Action Fairness Act (CAFA) (In re: AmeriGas Partners, L.P., et al., No. 19-113, 6th Cir., 2020 U.S. App. LEXIS 3163).