Tag Archives: class actions

SCC Restores Adjudicator’s Award in Residential School Settlement

In a recent decision, the Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) held that courts had the jurisdiction to supervise residential school settlement agreements on an ongoing basis.
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SCC: Party Autonomy in Arbitration Trumps Access to Justice Concerns

In a 5 to 4 decision, the Supreme Court of Canada held the concept of “party autonomy” and holding parties to a valid arbitration agreement trumped access to justice and policy concerns.  The Court allowed an appeal from the Court of Appeal for Ontario in which the majority ruled that part of a class action should be stayed and should proceed by way of arbitration even where there was a possibility of duplicating proceedings and inconsistent results.

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Ohio Supreme Court eradicates no-injury class actions

On Aug. 27, 2015, the Ohio Supreme Court established in Felix v. Ganley Chevrolet, Inc., Slip Opinion No. 2015-Ohio-3430 that all members of a plaintiff class alleging violations of the Ohio Consumer Sales Practices Act (OCSPA) must have suffered injury as a result of the conduct challenged in a suit under the act. In so ruling, the court made clear that:

  1. Ohio’s class action rules and consumer protection statutes do not permit “windfall awards” to parties who were not actually injured by a business’s allegedly improper commercial practices.
  2. “No-injury” consumer class actions will not be allowed in Ohio.

This decision is particularly important to companies (and their management and boards) that provide consumer services and hold consumer information – including manufacturers, distributors, and/or retailers of consumer goods and/or providers of consumer services (banking, insurance, credit, utilities, etc.). At least in Ohio, class actions now cannot be based on allegations akin to “We bought a product, other people had a problem with it, and we want our money back, even though it worked fine for us.”

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The First "Suitable Seating" Trial In California Results In A Victory For The Employer – And Guidance For Plaintiffs For Future Cases

By Michael Kun

As we have written before in this space, the latest wave of class actions in California is one alleging that employers have not complied with obscure requirements requiring the provision of suitable seating to employees and that employees are entitled to significant penalties as a result.

The suitable seating provisions are buried so deep in Wage Orders that most plaintiffs attorneys were not even aware of them until recently. Importantly, they do not require all employers to provide seats to all employees. Instead, they provide that employers shall provide suitable seats when the nature of the work reasonably permits the use of seats.

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California Supreme Court To Review Class Action Waiver Issue

By Michael Kun and Aaron Olsen

To the surprise of few, the California Supreme Court has decided to review the Court of Appeal’s decision enforcing a class action waiver in Iskanian v. CLS Transportation Los Angeles, LLC.

We wrote in detail about that decision on this blog earlier this year.

In reaching its conclusion, the Court of Appeals relied on the April 2011 United States Supreme Court’s landmark decision in AT&T Mobility, LLC v. Concepcion.  Whether the California Supreme Court will follow Concepcion or attempt to distinguish it is impossible to predict.   Unfortunately, while they await that decision, employers may not rely on Iskanian, which has been depublished pending review.

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California Court Denies Certification of Misclassification, Meal Period and Rest Period Claims against Joe’s Crab Shack Restaurants

By Kara Maciel and Aaron Olsen

After five years of litigation, a Los Angeles Superior Court has denied class certification of a class action against Joe’s Crab Shack Restaurants on claims that its managers were misclassified as exempt and denied meal and rest periods in violation of California law.  The court found that the plaintiffs had not established adequacy of class representatives, typicality, commonality or superiority, and emphasized a defendant’s due process right to provide individualized defenses to class members’ claims.

Because the case was handled by our colleagues in our Los Angeles office, we think it best not to comment on the decision other than to say that it highlights the need for creative strategies in defending against wage-hour class actions.   

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Hotel Operators and Managers Remain Vulnerable to Wage and Hour Class Actions

By:  Casey Cosentino

A hotel management company was recently hit with a putative class action in federal court for allegedly failing to compensate hotel employees overtime pay at one and one-half times their regular rate of pay for all hours worked over 40 hours in a workweek. As the chief engineer, the lead plaintiff was classified as an executive employee and, thus, was exempt from overtime requirements under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”). The lead plaintiff asserts, however, that he was misclassified under the Executive exemption because he “regularly and routinely performed non-exempt tasks . . . including but not limited to, upkeep of the hotel and its grounds, and building and property maintenance; and supervised no more than one other employee.” As such, the complaint contends, among other things, that he and other similarly situated employees unlawfully worked between 50 and 60 hours per week without receiving overtime pay. 

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Labor and Employment Alert: Employers strike back: The U.S. Supreme Court stems the tide of class action suits

Over the past decade, employers have been subjected to an onslaught of class action claims on behalf of employees alleging wage-hour violations, unlawful discrimination and other wrongful conduct. Given the complexities of the legal principles governing class claims and the absence of hard-and-fast rules, many lower courts have approved class treatment of claims that are, at their heart, unique to each class member. These facts, coupled with an aggressive plaintiffs’ bar, has left employers with little recourse but to settle class claims that would likely be defensible if pursued on an individual basis or to incur mounting legal fees in their effort to push back against the tide.

Fortunately, on June 20, 2011, the United States Supreme Court signaled a changing tide. It put the brakes on a class action lawsuit against Wal-Mart that encompassed 1.5 million past and present female employees of the retail giant. In so doing, the Court clarified the requirements for pursuing class claims and provided employers with a measure of legal respite from the claims of overly broad, tenuously affiliated classes of employees.

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