The Eighth Circuit upheld a class settlement over the objections of six of the twenty-three class representatives.  The case involved a settlement among the NFL and nearly 25,000 former NFL players over the use of the players’ likenesses and identities, and it provided class members with two benefits: (1) the establishment and $42 million funding of the Common Good Entity, a non-profit organization charged with disbursing the money to charitable organizations or health and welfare organizations for the benefit of class members; and (2) the establishment of the Licensing Agency intended to assist class members with marketing their publicity rights.  Marshall et al. v. Nat’l Football League, No. 13-3581 (8th Cir. May 21, 2015). At the outset, the Court tackled the question of whether the settlement benefits were appropriate given constraints on certain cy pres distributions.  The Court emphasized that the Licensing Agency provided class members with a direct benefit,…

Filing an bare-bones motion for class certification alongside the class-action complaint is one tactic to avoid the mooting effect of a Rule 68 offer. But what are defendants and the courts supposed to do with such a motion and its flimsy thread-bare recitals of the Rule 23 requirements? Federal judges do not like motions lingering on their dockets longer than six months; it hurts their stats and gets reported to Washington.  See, e.g., Singer v. Illinois State Petroleum Corp., 2013 wl 2384314, at *2 (N.D. Ill. May 24, 2013) ("[T]his Court is unwilling to contemplate the prospect of shattering its unbroken record of more than three decades of reporting no 'stale' pending motions in its statutorily-required September 30 report where, as here, such purported staleness is occasioned by lawyer-caused delays rather than by this Court's failing to act on a live motion."). Instead of agreeing to an arbitrarily fast six-month class-cert…

We all know that each defendant must consent to removal, which is easy when one or a couple of defendants are in the case.  But what do you do when the plaintiff has sued everyone under the sun and the clock is ticking?   Talk about a logistical nightmare. In Griffioen (no, that's not as typo - that's how the plaintiff spells his name), the plaintiffs in this putative class action sued a lot of entities, including some railroads, some corporations, some individuals, and some municipalities, over flood damage.  The theories and allegations aren't terribly important.  What is interesting is that certain defendants sought to remove the case to federal court, and while most of the defendants either signed the notice of removal or filed their own written indication of consent, some did not.  Instead, the removing defendants represented in their notice of removal that they had contacted counsel for…

Here's a quick refresher (plus a lesson) on CAFA's local-controversy exception: a district court must decline jurisdiction when more than two-thirds of the proposed class members are citizens of the state in which the action was filed.  The two-thirds is determined as of the date of the filing of the complaint.  The party seeking remand (typically the class representative / plaintiff) has the burden of proving the exception applies. So what's the lesson? You cannot prove citizenship using solely a putative class member's last-known address.  Residency does not establish citizenship - i.e. the fact that a class member has (or once had) a residential address in Missouri does not mean that person is a citizen of Missouri. So how may class representatives meet their burden to prove CAFA's local-controversy exception?  Two ways: submit affidavit evidence or statistically significant surveys showing two-thirds of the class members are local citizens, or redefine the class as only…

In a development that could have huge class action implications not only for Missouri and Kansas, but also the rest of the nation, the United States Supreme Court on April 27, 2015 granted certiorari review of the Ninth Circuit’s decision in Spokeo v. Robins, 742 F.3d 409 (9th Cir. 2014).  This case raises the critical issue of whether the mere violation of a federal statute can supply Article III standing to an unharmed private litigant seeking only statutory (not actual) damages under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) – or any of a host of other federal statutes like it. By way of background, we all know that in order to maintain Article III standing in federal court, the plaintiff must show: 1) injury in fact, ie injury in fact that is both concrete and particularized and actual and imminent, as opposed to conjectural or hypothetical; 2) causation, ie the…

As we discussed back in 2013, the United States Supreme Court's decision in Comcast left no doubt that any damages model offered up by the proponent of class certification must “be consistent with its liability case.”   This ruling put some teeth into the damages element in the class certification context, and strongly implied that the requirements of Daubert or Frye apply at the class certification stage.  This month, the Third Circuit joined the Seventh, Eighth, and Ninth Circuits have all agreed that the Daubert admissibility standard must be taken into account when assessing admissibility of expert testimony at the class certification stage. Now, of course, this is only useful if one’s jurisdiction actually sets some parameters on the admissibility of expert testimony.  Missouri courts, however, follow Mo. Rev. Stat. 490.065, which is somewhat general in its standards, and does not follow either Daubert or Frye in civil matters, relying instead…

Everybody’s talkin’ all this stuff about LLCs. Well, not exactly, but the Tenth Circuit is talking about LLC citizenship. Joining the chorus of every other circuit court to consider the issue, the Tenth Circuit recently held that citizenship of an unincorporated association (e.g., an LLC) for removal-diversity purposes is to be determined by reference to the citizenship of each of its members. See Siloam Springs Hotel, L.L.C. v. Century Sur. Co., No. 14-6119, 2015 WL 1430335 (10th Cir. Mar. 31, 2015). Were this a class action, the result would be different. For purposes of CAFA, said the Court in footnote 1, an LLC’s citizenship for removal-diversity purposes is determined in the same manner as a corporation—by its state of organization and principal place of business. Why the different result under CAFA? As the Tenth Circuit put it: Not my prerogative. The prerogative to expand the established citizenship rule for corporations…

In a very meta turn, Riceland Foods, Inc. found itself on the receiving end of a class action composed of class action firms and plaintiffs from the GMO Rice MDL overseen by Judge Catherine D. Perry of the USDC of the Eastern District of Missouri.  Riceland had been a co-defendant along with defendant Bayer in that litigation and had then cross-claimed Bayer and settled for $ 92 million.  Following the District Court’s orders awarding common benefit expenses and fees, three law firms that had incurred legal fees and expenses while performing class benefit work sought to certify a class representing not only other law firms but also clients who had paid for common benefit services and expenses.  The proposed class brought claims of unjust enrichment and quantum meruit against Riceland on the basis that Riceland had benefitted from the putative class’s common benefit work in obtaining a judgment against Bayer,…

In a decision emphasizing the continuing viability of medical-monitoring class actions, the Missouri Court of Appeals clarified plaintiffs’ burden of proof at the class-certification stage by holding that the trial court may not consider expert testimony or other evidence that contradicts the plaintiffs’ theory of the case. In Elsea v. U.S. Engineering Company, No. 77687 (Mo. App. W.D. Mar. 17, 2015), the plaintiffs sought certification under Mo. Rule 52.08(b)(3) (the state-law counterpart to Rule 23(b)(3)) of a class of individuals who had spent two consecutive weeks or eighty hours in the Jackson County Courthouse after the defendants had performed a retrofit of the building.  According to the plaintiffs’ allegations and experts, asbestos dust was blown and tracked through the courthouse during the retrofit, putting putative class members at a significantly increased risk for latent disease.  The plaintiffs sought recovery of compensatory damages for the expense of necessary prospective medical monitoring. Following…

Although this blog is focused on highlighting recent orders and opinions from courts within the 8th and 10th Circuit, there are countless others from courts around the country that will inevitably impact and influence class action jurisprudence.  Law360 published the "6 Recent Class Cert. Rulings Every Litigator Needs To Know," a nice compilation of recent rulings that may affect your practice (of course, none were from the 8th and 10th Circuit - otherwise you would have already heard about it here!). In addition to the cases highlighted in the Law360 article, Andrew Trask of Class Action Countermeasures also published "The Ten Most Significant Class Action Cases of 2014," a nice summation of impactful cases from the last year.

Close