Justia U.S. 1st Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Class Action

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The First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court denying class certification in this suit alleging violations of Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. 12131-12134, and the court's grant of judgment on the pleadings as to Parent/Professional Advocacy League (PPAL) and Disability Law Center (DLC), holding that PPAL and DLC lacked standing to pursue the claims in the complaint. S.S., a student at the Springfield Public Day School (SPDS), brought this suit on his own behalf and on behalf of a class of all student with a mental health disability who were or had been enrolled at SPDS, alleging that the City of Springfield, Massachusetts, and Springfield Public Schools violated Title II by segregating students with mental health disabilities in SPDS, a separate and inferior school. Associations PPAL and DLC joined S.S. as plaintiffs. The district court denied class certification. The court then ruled that the associations had standing but dismissed their claims for failure to exhaust. The First Circuit held (1) class certification was correctly denied; and (2) the associations lacked standing to bring this suit. View "Parent/Professional Advocacy League v. City of Springfield" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the district court's entry of summary judgment in favor of Defendant, a food services and facilities company, in three individual cases brought by employees of the company, holding that Plaintiffs' individual claims alleging violations of the Massachusetts Tips Act failed. Plaintiffs brought suit against Defendant for alleged violations of the Massachusetts Tips Act, Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 149, 152A, and then moved for class certification. The district court denied the motion for lack of sufficient commonality and typicality. Three individual plaintiffs' cases proceeded to summary judgment. The district court granted summary judgment for Defendant, concluding that Defendant's actions were protected under the safe harbor provision of the Tips Act. The First Circuit affirmed the entry of summary judgment without reaching the merits of the class certification issue, holding that Plaintiffs' claims did not warrant relief. View "Lazo v. Sodexo, Inc." on Justia Law

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The First Circuit vacated the district court's denial of prison officials' motion for summary judgment on Plaintiff's lawsuit alleging the use of excessive force in violation of the Eighth Amendment, holding that the district court failed to fulfill its obligation to follow the law as set forth in controlling precedent. The prison officials moved for summary judgment arguing that they were entitled to qualified immunity. The district court denied the motion. The record contained two versions of the relevant interaction between Plaintiff and prison officials. Under Scott v. Harris, 550 U.S. 372, 377 (2007), the district court's job was to decide whether the prison officials' evidence blatantly contradicted Plaintiff's version of events. The district court, however, rejected the teaching of Scott and denied the qualified immunity defense. The First Circuit held that the court's denial of qualified immunity was predicated on its error of law and remand to another district court judge for further proceedings consistent with the law was required. View "Underwood v. Barrett" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit reversed the district court’s certification of a class of all purchasers of Asacol, including purchasers who had not suffered any injury attributable to Defendants’ allegedly anticompetitive behavior, holding that the district court’s approach to certifying a class was at odds with both Supreme Court precedent and the law of this circuit. Drug manufacturer Warner Chilcott Limited’s coordinated withdrawal and entry of two drugs, Asacol and the similar drug called Delzicol, precluded generic manufacturers from introducing a generic version of Asacol, which would have provided a lower-cost alternative to Warner’s drugs, Delzicol and Asacol HD. Plaintiffs filed a class action alleging violations of the consumer protection and antitrust laws of twenty-five states and the District of Columbia. The district court certified a class of all Asacol purchasers who subsequently purchased Delzicol or Asacol HD in one of those twenty-six jurisdictions, finding that while ten percent of the class had not suffered any injury, those uninjured class members could be removed in a proceeding conducted by a claims administrator. The First Circuit reversed, holding that where injury-in-fact is a required element of an antitrust action, a class cannot be certified based on an expectation that the defendant will have no opportunity to press at trial genuine challenges to allegations of injury-in-fact. View "Teamsters Union 25 Health Services & Insurance Plan v. Warner Chilcott Limited" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit held that federal law requires prior FDA approval for a manufacturer of prescription eye drops to change the medication’s bottle so as to alter the amount of medication dispensed into the eye, and therefore, state law claims challenging the manufacturers’ refusal to make this change are preempted. Plaintiff sued in federal court on their own behalf and on behalf of a putative class of prescription eye solution purchasers, asserting that Defendants deliberately designed their dispensers to emit unnecessarily large drops. Plaintiffs alleged that Defendants’ practice was “unfair” under Massachusetts state law and twenty-five other states and allied claims for unjust enrichment and for “money had and received.” The district court dismissed the complaint without ruling on the merits, finding that FDA regulations preempted Plaintiffs’ suit. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) changing a product bottle so as to dispense a different amount of prescription eye solution is a “major change” under 21 C.F.R. 314.70(b); and (2) therefore, Plaintiffs’ state law claims were preempted. View "Gustavsen v. Alcon Laboratories, Inc." on Justia Law

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Ronald Brenner sought to amend his late wife’s putative class action complaint in order to name himself as lead plaintiff. Jacqueline Brenner filed the complaint against Williams-Sonoma, Inc., alleging that the company’s practice of collecting customers’ zip codes constituted unjust enrichment and violated Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 93, 105(a). Ronald never became a party to the action. After Jacqueline died, Ronald moved pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 15(a)(2) to leave to amend the complaint to add himself as a plaintiff in his individual capacity. The district court ruled that the amendment would be futile. Ronald appealed. The First Circuit dismissed Ronald’s appeal for lack of jurisdiction, holding (1) Ronald did not become a party below and there was no equitable reason to allow the appeal; and (2) Ronald was not a member to this action and lacked standing to appeal. View "Brenner v. Williams-Sonoma, Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff and two other named plaintiffs filed a putative class action suit against defendants in a Massachusetts state court. Defendants successfully sought removal of the suit to a federal district court. The district court granted Defendants’ motion for summary judgment as to most, but not all, of Plaintiff’s claims. At Plaintiffs’ urging, the court remanded the case to state court. Plaintiff filed a notice appealing the remand order, followed by a brief devoted to challenging the interlocutory order that dismissed most of his claims. The First Circuit dismissed the appeal, holding that Plaintiff waived his right to appeal because, if the order of remand was a final judgment, it was a final judgment to which Plaintiff affirmatively acquiesced without clearly reserving the right to appeal any ruling that may have merged into that judgment. View "Doran v. J. P. Noonan Transportation, Inc." on Justia Law

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After the share price of a corporation’s common stock dropped, investors filed suit against the corporation and its former CEO, alleging securities fraud. The lead plaintiff, on behalf of himself and a putative class of shareholders, alleged that Defendants inflated the value of the corporation’s common stock by issuing false or materially misleading press releases concerning the approval of human clinical trials for a new medical device the company was developing. The district court granted Defendants’ motion to dismiss the complaint. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that Plaintiff failed to allege false or misleading statements sufficient to state a claim and that Plaintiff’s control person claim against the CEO was also properly dismissed. View "Ganem v. InVivo Therapeutics Holdings Corp." on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs, former and current tenants of residential property in Massachusetts leased to them by Defendants, challenged certain amenity use fees imposed by Defendants, alleging violations of the Massachusetts Security Deposit Statute and Chapter 93A of the Massachusetts Consumer Protection Act. The underlying litigation was resolved with a complete settlement between the parties. This appeal concerned class counsel’s challenge to the amount of attorneys’ fees awarded to them by the district court. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that neither the method utilized by the district court to arrive at the fee award nor the amount of the award itself constituted an abuse of discretion. View "Heien v. Archstone" on Justia Law

Posted in: Class Action

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Plaintiff purchased CVS-brand Vitamin E 400 International Units Softgels at a CVS in Plainview, New York. The bottle containing the product bore a label that advertised the product as supporting “heart health.” Plaintiff filed a putative class action complaint, claiming that there were no scientifically valid studies supporting the “heart health” statements. In her complaint, Plaintiff asserted a violation of the New York Consumer Protection Act (NYCPA) and a piggy-back common law claim of unjust enrichment. The district court dismissed Plaintiff’s complaint for failure to state a claim, concluding that federal law preempted Plaintiff’s effort to maintain this action under New York’s consumer protection law. The First Circuit reversed, holding (1) neither federal nor state law posed any bar to recovery under NYCPA to the extent that recovery was predicated on a failure by CVS to comply with the requirements of Federal Food Drug and Cosmetic Act section 343(r); and (2) the complaint adequately alleged that the label’s statements were misleading in a manner that violated the requirements of section 343(r), and therefore, the unjust enrichment count was also not preempted. View "Kaufman v. CVS Caremark Corp." on Justia Law