A special section of our site dedicated to class actions, collective actions, and impact litigation. Featuring selected court cases, news stories, firms, case websites, and cy pres awards.
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In the Courts
Padilla v. Maersk Line, Limited
United States Second Circuit | Decision Date: June 25, 2013
Summary judgment in favor of plaintiffs, a class of seafarers discharged from service on defendant's ships due to illness or injury, is affirmed, where: 1) here, the collective bargaining agreement does not limit the availability of unearned wages and so general maritime law must be applied; 2) the record reflects that it was the custom and practice for seafarers working for defendant to derive substantial income from overtime compensation and that, consequently, such compensation was a common expectation of both the seamen and of defendant; and 3) plaintiffs were entitled, as part of unearned wages, to overtime pay that they would have earned from the time of their discharge until the end of their respective voyages. Read the decision.
Thompson v. Automobile Club of Southern California
California Court of Appeals | Decision Date: June 27, 2013
The trial court did not abuse its discretion in denying plaintiff's motion for class certification in an action challenging defendant's policies relating to renewal, specifically, its practice of "backdating" late renewals to the member's original expiration date if the renewal occurs within 95 days, which he alleged results in late-renewing members receiving less than a full year of services, where: 1) the evidence demonstrates the trial court properly exercised its discretion when it concluded the proposed class was not ascertainable; 2) the trial court had substantial evidence from which it could conclude that individual issues predominated over common ones; 3) plaintiff's claims were not typical of the class; and thus, 4) the court therefore properly exercised its discretion when it denied class certification Read the decision.
Erie Insurance Exchange v. Erie Indemnity Company
United States Third Circuit | Decision Date: June 28, 2013
The district court's order remanding plaintiff's action for misappropriation of funds against defendant, who is plaintiff's attorney-in-fact and manages plaintiff's operations, is affirmed, where because this case was brought under state rules that bear no resemblance to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23 in that they allow for suits by entities, not a conglomerate of individuals, it does not meet the statutory definition of "class action." Read the decision.
The Authors Guild Inc. v. Google Inc.
United States Second Circuit | Decision Date: July 1, 2013
The district court's order certifying a plaintiff class of authors claiming that defendant committed copyright infringement by copying and displaying snippets of millions of books in the Library Project of its Google Books search tool, is vacated and remanded, whereclass certification was premature in the absence of a determination by the district court of the merits of defendant's "fair use" defense. Read the decision.
In the News
NBC Universal Is the Latest to Be Sued By Unpaid Interns
Two unpaid interns for Saturday Night Live and MSNBC are seeking $5 million after working unpaid at least 24 hours a week. The two interns seek to capitalize on recent court decisions that have favored unpaid interns when they sue large corporations. NBC Universal started paying their interns in 2013. Read the full story.
Class-Action Certification Sought Against U.S. Census Bureau For Employment Discrimination
Eight plaintiffs are seeking class certification alleging that the U.S. Census Bureau conducted unlawful screened out African Americans and Latinos from jobs in 2010 based on arrest records. The suit claims that the Census Bureau presumed that job applicants with arrest records were not fit to work. Read the full story.
Hearst Interns’ Denial of Class Certification To be Reviewed
Unpaid interns that worked for Hearst Corporation will appeal to the Second Circuit after their motion to certify was denied by a New York district court. The former unpaid interns allege that they should be considered “employees” under the Fair Labor Standards Act, as well as under New York Labor Law, and thus were entitled to compensation for their work with Hearst Read the full story.
Initiative Legal Group is a 40-plus attorney law firm based in Los Angeles. ILG prosecutes class actions on behalf of employees, consumers, and others who have had their rights violated. ILG has the experience and resources to handle the most complex class actions, and we make the necessary investments to certify our class actions and maximize settlement value. Since 2006, we have won contested certification motions in 20 class actions and have settled 53 class actions. Visit Initiative Legal Group at Manta. Visit our website at www.initiativelegal.com/.
At Blumenthal, Nordrehaug & Bhowmik, our California labor attorneys strive to maximize the settlement and ease the experience of you employment law claim. Our lawyers help employees recover the full amount of compensation they are owed for all of the time they worked and, in the process, put a stop to their employer's illegal pay practices. The workplace attorneys at Blumenthal, Nordrehaug & Bhowmik has a long, successful record of aggressively protecting workers rights from our offices in San Francisco, San Jose & San Diego. Whether you are looking for a discrimination attorney, sexual harassment lawyer, or even a wrongful termination attorney, our employment law firm has the experience and expertise to represent employees in workplace issues. Visit our website at www.bamlawca.com/.
The Impact Fund is a public foundation dedicated to providing representation, technical assistance and funding for complex, public interest litigation. Through our grants, trainings, and programs, we seek to address systemic problems of social and environmental injustice, human and civil rights and poverty. The Impact Fund's Equal Justice Litigation Program provides direct litigation support as co-counsel and amicus counsel in public interest, class action cases. Our legal team provides advice and counseling on procedural, trial, settlement, attorneys fees and related issues that arise in large scale, public interest litigation, such as class actions. We also conduct training programs and conferences. Visit our website at www.impactfund.org/.
For over 37 years, Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC has been a pioneer in plaintiff class action lawsuits on behalf of victims of such abuses. By creating a group or class, individuals join to fight companies in court and enhance their ability to fight corporations who often have larger resources. As one of the premier firms in the country handling major complex class actions, Cohen Milstein, with more than 50 attorneys and offices in Washington, D.C., New York, Philadelphia, Chicago and London, is a firm that specializes in cases concerning: Antitrust; Securities Fraud/Investor Protection; Civil Rights & Employment; Consumer Protection; Employee Benefits; Unsafe Drugs & Environmental Health Threats; International Antitrust, Securities, Human Rights and Unsafe Drugs & Environmental Health Threats. Visit our website at www.cmht.com/.
Now in its eighth annual edition, Seyfarth’s Workplace Class Action Litigation Report examines the theoretical and strategic uncertainties stemming from the Supreme Court’s employment law and class action rulings in 2011, and the challenges they pose for companies and their defense counsel. The Report also makes clear that workplace lawsuit filings rose on nearly every front last year, from Fair Labor Standards Act and ERISA to government enforcement actions, with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission setting a new record for discrimination charges brought against private-sector employers in a single year. Seyfarth notes that the Supreme Court’s decision in Wal-Mart Stores v. Dukes, handed down last June, has already been cited more than 260 times in federal and state court opinions, and AT&T Mobility v. Concepcion has been cited 215 times - remarkable figures for rulings less than a year old. Dukes, which established a new standard for certifying class actions, and Concepcion, which held that federal arbitration law supersedes limitations imposed by individual states, opened the floodgates to a wave a new case law developments in class actions and class arbitrations, which will continue to evolve in the coming year and impact litigants for years to come.
Attention - present and former female employees of Wal-Mart or Sam's Club: Wal-Mart Case Is Not Over: Regional Class Actions filed in California and Texas and EEOC charges may still be filed
Cy Pres Awards
Velez v. Novartis (Sanford Wittels & Heisler)
Workplace Fairness was a recipient of a cy pres award in Velez v. Novartis. Velez is the largest gender discrimination case to ever go to trial, and ended in the jury finding on behalf of a class of 5,600 female sales representatives in their gender pay and promotion and pregnancy discrimination claims. The jury also awarded 12 testifying current and former Novartis sales reps $3.36 million in compensatory damages and the class of 5,600 women an additional $250 million in punitive damages. In addition, the May 2010 verdict from the jury meant that the remaining 5,600 women in the class were also entitled to additional awards of backpay and to seek compensatory damage awards up to $300,000 each. In July 2010, Class Counsel Sanford Wittels & Heisler announced a settlement on behalf of all female sales reps to present, increasing the class size to approximately 6,200 women in total. On November 30, 2010 Judge Colleen McMahon of the United States District Court of the Eastern District of New York, approved the final settlement agreement valued at $175 million. $22.5M earmarked for broad-reaching systemic reforms is believed to be among the largest non-monetary settlements ever reached. These systemic reforms will address: (1) the way Novartis promotes women into management; (2) the way Novartis evaluates its employees; (3) the way Novartis compensates its employees; (4) the way Novartis investigates and responds to complaints of discrimination and unfair treatment. $60M is set aside for back pay awards -- 100% of the value of back pay damages to the class. Approximately $40M is set aside for compensatory damages, with each class member having the right to seek payments up to the full $300,000 allowed under law. The remainder of the monetary fund provides service payments to class representatives and class members who helped prosecute the case, attorneys’ fees and case expenses, the administrative costs of implementing the settlement terms, and cy pres awards such as the one received by Workplace Fairness. The presiding judge noted that SWH achieved “extraordinary” and “one of a kind” results for the class in both the trial and the later settlement.
Caffarelli & Siegel, Lichten & Liss-Riordan
Marc Siegel and Brad Manewith of Caffarelli & Siegel and Shannon Liss-Riordan and Hillary Schwab of Lichten & Liss-Riordan worked on behalf of a class of plaintiffs in a wage case and provided a cy pres award to Workplace Fairness. Due to confidentiality restrictions, we are unable to disclose more about the case, but are very grateful for their generosity.