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

Articles Posted in Class Action

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Fabry Disease, a rare genetic disorder, leaves afflicted persons unable to synthesize a key enzyme that helps the body break down fats. Untreated, Fabry patients suffer progressively more severe symptoms, including pain in their extremities, gastrointestinal issues, vision and hearing losses, stroke, and heart and kidney failure, eventually leading to premature death. Researchers at the Mt. Sinai School of Medicine developed a method for producing a replacement enzyme, which effectively treats (but does not cure) Fabry. After patenting this method, Mt. Sinai granted an exclusive license to Genzyme, which became the sole producer of the replacement enzyme, "Fabrazyme," the only FDA-approved enzyme replacement therapy for the treatment of Fabry. Genzyme provided the drug to Fabry patients until 2009. After a virus was discovered in improperly cleaned equipment at the company's manufacturing facility, Genzyme reduced production, leading to a Fabrazyme shortage. The company began rationing. Despite setbacks in reestablishing production levels, in 2011 Genzyme diverted some Fabrazyme to the European market, allegedly because of competition Genzyme faced from an alternative enzyme replacement therapy approved only in Europe. Two class action complaints were consolidated and dismissed. The First Circuit affirmed in part, for lack of standing, noting “the utter failure of any plaintiff (other than Mooney) to plausibly allege that he or she suffered an injury in fact as a result of accelerated disease progression or receipt of a contaminated drug.” View "Hochendoner v. Genzyme Corp." on Justia Law

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Gannett Satellite Information Network, Inc. is an international media company that produces news and entertainment programming through a proprietary mobile software application (the “App”). Plaintiff downloaded and installed the App on his Android mobile device. Every time Plaintiff watched a video clip on the App, Gannett shared information about Plaintiff with Adobe Systems Incorporated. Plaintiff brought this putative class-action lawsuit against Gannett for allegedly disclosing information about him to a third party in violation of the Video Privacy Protection Act (VPPA). The district court dismissed the action under Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6), concluding that that information disclosed by Gannett was “personally identifiable information” (PII) under the VPPA but that Plaintiff was not a “consumer” protected by the VPPA. The First Circuit reversed, holding that the complaint adequately alleged that Plaintiff was a “consumer” under the VPPA. Remanded. View "Yershov v. Gannett Satellite Info. Network, Inc." on Justia Law

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Defendants were business entities that organize physically challenging obstacle course events in locations throughout the United States. The four named Plaintiffs registered to participate in one of those events. Plaintiffs filed suit in Massachusetts superior court alleging that they were unable to participate in the event because of a second change of location and that Defendants refused to refund Plaintiffs’ registration fees. Plaintiffs sought relief on behalf of themselves and a class of similarly situated persons. Defendants removed the case to federal court, asserting that removal was permitted under the Class Action Fairness Act because the matter in controversy exceeded $5 million. Plaintiffs moved to remand the case to state court arguing that Defendant failed to show that over $5 million was in controversy. The district court denied Plaintiffs’ motion to remand the case to state court. The district court then dismissed the case and compelled mediation and arbitration of the dispute. The First Circuit reversed, holding that the district court erred in concluding that Defendants met their burden of showing that over $5 million was in controversy in this matter. Remanded with instructions to remand the case to state court for lack of jurisdiction. View "Pazol v. Tough Mudder Inc." on Justia Law

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Warner Chilcott, a brand-name drug manufacturer that owns the patent covering Loestrin 24 Fe, and Watson Pharmaceuticals, Inc., which sought to introduce a generic version of Loestrin 24, entered into a settlement agreement wherein Watson agreed to delay entry of its generic version of Loestrin 24 in exchange for favorable side deals. Thereafter, Lupin Pharmaceuticals, Inc. announced that it would introduce a generic version of Loestrin 24. Warner and Lupin settled on terms similar to those between Warner and Watson. Two putative classes of plaintiffs brought antitrust claims that the settlement agreements were violations of the Sherman Act and constituted illegal restrains on trade under FTC v. Actavis. At issue in this case was whether such settlement agreements are subject to federal antitrust scrutiny where they do not involve reverse payments in pure cash form. The district court dismissed, concluding that Actavis applies only to monetary reverse payments and that Plaintiffs had alleged the existence of non-cash reverse payments only. The First Circuit vacated and remanded, holding that the district court erred in determining that non-monetary reverse payments do not fall under the scope of Actavis. Remanded. View "In re Loestrin 24 FE Antitrust Litig." on Justia Law

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Three putative class action complaints alleged that Defendants engaged in deceptive marketing and advertising about the health benefits of certain “barefoot” running shoes. The district court preliminary approved a settlement and certified a class for settlement purposes only. Notice was subsequently distributed to the class, and some 154,927 timely claims were filed. Objections were filed by three individuals, none of whom complied with the requirement in the proposed settlement agreement that proof of purchase must be submitted with an objection to establish class membership. The district court rejected the objectors’ claims, approved the proposed settlement, and awarded attorneys’ fees and expenses to class counsel. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) there was no misrepresentation in the notices sent to class members; (2) the settlement was fair, reasonable, and adequate; (3) the district court did not abuse its discretion in concluding that injunctive relief was a valuable contribution to the settlement agreement; and (4) there was no abuse of discretion in the district court’s award of attorneys’ fees. View "Bezdek v. Vibram USA, Inc." on Justia Law

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In the underlying putative class action, counsel for the named plaintiffs obtained a collection of records owned by JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A. (Chase). Plaintiffs sought to rely on the documents to pursue claims sounding in fraud, deceit, and conversion against Chase. A dispute arose as to whether portions of the Chase records were shielded from discovery and litigation under a provision of Bank Secrecy Act and related regulations. A magistrate judge reviewed all of the disputed documents in camera and concluded that the majority of the documents were not shielded by statute or regulation. Chase then initiated this mandamus proceeding, asking the First Circuit to intervene by declaring that the Act and related regulations shielded an additional fifty-five pages of Chase records from production or use in the putative class action. The First Circuit denied the petition for writ of mandamus, holding that, even assuming that the Act and regulations apply, the documents at dispute would not be shielded from discovery or use in litigation. View "In re JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed claims individually and on behalf of three putative classes against Defendant seeking damages and injunctive relief under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act. Prior to the parties’ agreed-upon deadline for the class certification motion that Plaintiff announced it would pursue, Defendant tendered to Plaintiff an offer for judgment under Fed. R. Civ. P. 68. Four days after receiving the offer, Plaintiff moved for class certification. The unaccepted offer was subsequently withdrawn due to Plaintiff’s failure to respond to the offer. Thereafter, Defendant moved to dismiss for lack of matter jurisdiction, arguing that its unaccepted and withdrawn Rule 68 offer resolved any case or controversy between the parties, thereby mooting Plaintiff’s claims. The district court denied the motion to dismiss. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that a rejected and withdrawn offer of settlement of the named plaintiff’s individual claims in a putative class action made before the named plaintiff moves to certify a class does not moot the named plaintiff’s claims and divest the court of subject matter jurisdiction. View "Bais Yaakov of Spring Valley v. ACT, Inc." on Justia Law

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This appeal arose out of the settlement of a securities class action brought on behalf of the purchasers of certain common stock of a corporation. Those who objected to the settlement and appealed the rejection of their objection argued that they were given too little time to register objections with the district court and that the district court should not have approved the amount of attorneys’ fees awarded to class counsel. The First Circuit (1) affirmed the district court’s rejection of the objections at issue, as the objectors had notice in fact and a sufficient opportunity to have any of their objections heard by the court before it approved the settlement; and (2) dismissed the objectors’ appeal from the court orders approving the settlement and award of counsel fees, as the objectors had no standing to complain about the fee award. View "Hill v. State Street Bank Corp." on Justia Law

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In this putative class action against the manufacturer of Lexapro, Forest Pharmaceuticals, Inc., Plaintiffs claimed that Lexapro’s FDA-approved drug label misleads California consumers by omitting material efficacy information in violation of California’s Consumer Legal Remedies Act, False Advertising Law, and Unfair Competition Law. As relief, Plaintiffs requested that the court permanently enjoin Forest from continuing to sell or market Lexapro with its current drug label and to direct Forest to seek FDA approval of a new drug label. The district court dismissed the complaint, concluding that claims were barred by California’s safe harbor doctrine. The First Circuit affirmed the judgment dismissing the complaint but on other grounds, holding that federal law impliedly preempts Plaintiffs’ claims because the federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act prohibits Forest from independently changing its FDA-approved label to read as Plaintiffs say it should have read in order to comply with California Law. View "Marcus v. Forest Pharms., Inc." on Justia Law

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This shareholder derivative suit was one of several suits alleging that Smith & Wesson Holding Corporation, a major gun manufacturer incorporated in Nevada, made misleading public statements in 2007 about demand for its products. In reaction to these cases, Smith & Wesson formed a Special Litigation Committee (SLC) to investigate and evaluate the viability of any of these claims and to make a recommendation to Smith & Wesson’s Board whether to pursue any of these claims. The SLC issued a final report recommending against filing any claims. In 2010, Plaintiff asserted Nevada state law claims against Smith & Wesson’s officers and directors, including breach of fiduciary duty and waste of corporate assets. On the basis of the SLC’s conclusions, Defendants, former and current officers and directors of Smith & Wesson, moved for summary dismissal under Delaware law, as adopted by Nevada. The district court granted the motion. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the district court did not err in finding as a matter of law that the SLC was independent and that the SLC’s investigation was reasonable and conducted in good faith. View "Sarnacki v. Golden" on Justia Law