2021 Year in Class Actions

2021 was a busy year in class actions.  State and federal courts across the country grappled with thousands of different class action lawsuits ranging from consumer protection, to employment discrimination, to COVID-19-related cases. Within this influx of class action lawsuits, there were key developments in class action law that affected these lawsuits in 2021 and may continue to have an impact in years to come.  This article addresses just a handful of these developments.   I. Article III Standing in Class Action Lawsuits On June 25, 2021, the Supreme Court issued what may be a landmark decision in TransUnion v. [...]

By |2022-01-05T09:48:29-05:00January 4th, 2022|Practice Areas: Class Action|

Supreme Court to Consider Waiver of Right to Arbitration in Employee Wage and Hour Case

On November 15, 2021, the U.S. Supreme Court announced it would hear a case by a former Taco Bell employee, Robyn Morgan, regarding her former employer’s right to compel arbitration in her wage and hour case.  Morgan’s claims stem from her allegation that her former employer and Taco Bell franchisee, Sundance, Inc., failed to pay her time-and-a-half for overtime.  Specifically, Morgan alleges that Sundance recorded her worktime across multiple weeks to keep her time under forty hours per week.  Sundance answered Morgan’s Complaint and litigated the case for eight months.  It then moved to compel arbitration [...]

Supreme Court to Determine Viability of Cause of Action for HIV-Positive Plaintiffs Alleging Disability Discrimination Against CVS Pharmacy Inc. Under Affordable Care Act

The U.S. Supreme Court recently granted certiorari in CVS, et al., v. Doe, at al., Docket No. 20-1374, to determine whether 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Affordable Care Act (“ACA”) provides a disparate-impact cause of action for plaintiffs alleging disability discrimination. In CVS, the plaintiffs/respondents, five individuals living with HIV, allege that CVS Pharmacy’s new requirement that they must obtain their specialty medication through specialty pharmacists by mail or through drop shipments at a CVS Pharmacy, and not at their local pharmacy, is discriminatory. Several respondents requested to opt-out of the program. However, [...]

The Supreme Court to Examine “Excessive” ERISA Fees

The Supreme Court recently agreed to hear the class action ERISA case, Hughes v. Northwestern University, Docket No. 19-1401, to determine whether a retirement plan that pays or charges its participants fees that are significantly higher than those of other available investments is breaching its fiduciary duties under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA).  In short, the Supreme Court’s review could determine what qualifies as a plausible claim for relief in a “defined contribution” retirement plan. In Hughes, five Plaintiffs filed the action in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, asserting six [...]

By |2021-09-15T12:21:59-04:00September 15th, 2021|Practice Areas: Class Action, Labor & Employment|Topics: , , , |

Supreme Court to Determine whether the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act displaces the States Secret Privilege

On November 8, 2021, the Supreme Court will hear oral argument in the class action case, Federal Bureau of Investigation v. Fazaga, Docket No. 20-828.  In Fazaga, members of a Muslim community in Southern California filed suit against the FBI and various FBI agents, alleging that the government’s secret surveillance of them was not lawful because it was based on their religious beliefs and practices.  More specifically, three Muslim men allege that the FBI targeted them because of their religion by using a confidential informant to gather information about Muslims as part of a counterterrorism investigation. [...]

By |2021-09-07T14:27:58-04:00September 7th, 2021|Practice Areas: Class Action, General|Topics: , , |

State Farm Policy Holders Granted Class Certification in COVID-19 Insurance Recovery Class Action

On August 19, 2021, in a first-of-its-kind ruling, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia granted class certification to a statewide class of Virginia businesses in a COVID-19 insurance recovery class action.  The Court granted class certification to a class of at least 111 Virginia businesses that, between March 23 and June 20, 2020, submitted insurance claims to State Farm for pandemic-related business losses.  The losses stemmed from the COVID-19 restrictions put in place in Virginia that required many recreational businesses to close—and then only permitted them to reopen at limited capacity [...]

By |2021-08-27T14:56:20-04:00August 27th, 2021|Practice Areas: Class Action|Topics: , , |

Supreme Court Rules that Courts Should Determine the Materiality of Alleged Misrepresentations at the Class Certification Stage in Private Securities Litigation

On June 21, 2021, the Supreme Court in Goldman Sachs Group, Inc., et al. v. Arkansas Teachers Retirement Systemruled in favor of Goldman Sachs in a securities-fraud class action lawsuit brought by investors. The plaintiffs alleged that Goldman Sachs maintained an artificially inflated stock price by making generic false statements in connection with their sales of securities, until the truth about Goldman Sachs’ practices were made public and the market reacted, resulting in losses to the plaintiffs. The plaintiffs sought to certify a class of Goldman Sachs shareholders that relied on such misrepresentations when investing in its [...]

Supreme Court Rules that Absent Class Members Must Suffer Actual Harm to Be Part of a Class

On June 25, 2021, the Supreme Court in TransUnion v. Ramirez, held that, in order to be part of a class action and recover damages, class members must have suffered “concrete harm” to have standing under Article III of the Constitution. This was the first time that the Supreme Court examined standing issues in the class action context since 2016, when it ruled in Spokeo v. Robbins, that mere statutory violations alone to the plaintiff, or class representative, are insufficient to establish Article III standing. In Ramirez, a class of 8,185 individuals sued TransUnion, a credit reporting agency, [...]

By |2021-06-25T16:58:20-04:00June 25th, 2021|Practice Areas: Class Action|Topics: , , |

Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Athletes on Restricting Payment of Education-Related Benefits

On June 21, 2021, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of college athletes in their dispute with the NCAA over caps on certain education-related benefits.  In a 9-0 decision, the Court affirmed the ruling of the Ninth Circuit that the NCAA’s restrictions on certain education-related benefits to college athletes violates anti-trust laws.  Although college athletes will not receive salaries tied to their participation in athletics, they will be able to receive compensation for education-related activities and expenses—like internships, computers, and study abroad programs. While the NCAA has defended its caps on education-related benefits as necessary to preserve [...]

By |2021-06-22T10:46:11-04:00June 22nd, 2021|Practice Areas: Class Action|Topics: , , |

Colleges and Universities Mandating COVID-19 Vaccines for Students to Return to Campus

After over a year, it appears there is finally light at the end of the COVID-19 tunnel.  With over 85 million Americans fully vaccinated and millions more being vaccinated each month, a semblance of normalcy is slowly beginning to return.  As a result, colleges and universities are forming plans for students to safely return to campus for something resembling a normal school year in the fall of 2021.  Key for many institutions is a requirement that returning students be fully vaccinated for COVID-19.  Georgetown University, Brown University, and the University of Notre Dame, just to name [...]

By |2021-05-04T10:33:46-04:00May 4th, 2021|Practice Areas: Class Action|Topics: , , , |

The Supreme Court Narrows the TCPA’s Autodialer Provision: Facebook Can Text You

On April 1, 2021, the Supreme Court issued a unanimous decision in Facebook, Inc. v. Noah Duguid, No. 19-511, 2021 U.S. LEXIS 1742 (U.S. Apr. 1, 2021), siding with Facebook in narrowing the federal ban on unsolicited robocalls and robotexts.   The Court held that Facebook did not violate the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991 (“TCPA”) by sending security related text messages to the Plaintiff, Noah Duguid.  Duguid sued Facebook after receiving several text messages from Facebook alerting him that someone tried to access his Facebook account from an unknown browser, when he never had a [...]

Update: Settlement in Facebook’s Facial Recognition Technology Suit Against Facebook

On Friday, February 26, 2021, U.S. District Court Judge, Judge Donato approved a $650 million settlement of the privacy lawsuit against Facebook for allegedly using photo face-tagging and other biometric data without the consent of its users. This is one of the largest settlements for a privacy violation to date in the United States. We previously discussed this case last year in the blog post titled, "Class Actions and Privacy Laws – Could Facial Recognition Technology Be Changing the Face of the “injury-in-fact” Requirement for Class Actions?" As previously discussed, in the earlier post of February 2020, [...]

By |2021-03-02T11:56:10-05:00March 2nd, 2021|Practice Areas: Class Action, Cybersecurity & Privacy|Topics: , , |