Justia U.S. 1st Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Class Action
Hill v. State Street Bank Corp.
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
Marcus v. Forest Pharms., Inc.
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
Sarnacki v. Golden
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
In re Nexium Antitrust Litig.
This case involved the dispute over settlement agreements between AstraZeneca, which sells a heartburn drug called Nexium, and three generic drug companies that sought to market generic forms of Nexium. The named plaintiffs sued AstraZeneca and the three drug companies, alleging that the settlement agreements constituted unlawful agreements not to compete. Plaintiffs sought class certification for a class of third-party payors and individual consumers. The district court certified a class. Defendants appealed. After briefing, oral argument, and submission of this case, however, Defendants filed a voluntary motion to dismiss the interlocutory appeal. The First Circuit denied the motion to dismiss, holding (1) although some of the underlying issues in this case had been settled and a jury had reached a verdict on some others, the case was not moot; (2) a final draft of the Court’s opinion had already been prepared; and (3) Defendants may have been acting strategically by seeking to dismiss the interlocutory appeal. View "In re Nexium Antitrust Litig." on Justia Law
In re Nexium Antitrust Litig.
AstraZeneca, which sells a heartburn drug called Nexium, and three generic drug companies (“generic defendants”) that sought to market generic forms of Nexium, entered into settlement agreements in which the generic defendants agreed not to challenge the validity of the Nexium patents and to delay the launch of their generic products. Certain union health and welfare funds that reimburse plan members for prescription drugs (the named plaintiffs) alleged that the settlement agreements constituted unlawful agreements between Nexium and the generic defendants not to compete. Plaintiffs sought class certification for a class of third-party payors, such as the named plaintiffs, and individual consumers. The district court certified a class. Relevant to this appeal, the class included individual consumers who would have continued to purchase branded Nexium for the same price after generic entry. The First Circuit affirmed the class certification, holding (1) class certification is permissible even if the class includes a de minimis number of uninjured parties; (2) the number of uninjured class members in this case was not significant enough to justify denial of certification; and (3) only injured class members will recover. View "In re Nexium Antitrust Litig." on Justia Law
Romulus v. CVS Pharmacy, Inc.
In this case involving a class action complaint filed against CVS Pharmacy Inc. in Massachusetts Superior Court for wage and hour violations, the First Circuit clarified the removal time periods and mechanisms under the Class Action Fairness Act of 2005. CVS filed a second notice of removal, claiming that there was a reasonable probability that the amount in controversy exceeded $5 million. The district court granted Plaintiffs’ motion to remand, holding (1) CVS’s notice of removal came too late to meet the thirty-day deadline in 28 U.S.C. 1446(b)(1), and the second thirty-day deadline in section 1446(b)(3) did not apply; and (2) CVS had not met its burden to establish the substantive amount in controversy requirement. The First Circuit reversed, holding (1) the time limits in section 1446(b) apply when the plaintiffs’ pleadings or the plaintiffs’ “other papers” provide the defendant with a clear statement of the damages sought or with sufficient facts from which damages can be readily calculated; (2) CVS’s second notice of removal was timely under section 1446(b)(3); and (3) CVS sufficiently demonstrated that the amount in controversy exceeded $5 million. View "Romulus v. CVS Pharmacy, Inc." on Justia Law
Cooper v. Charter Cmmc’ns Ents. I, LLC
Plaintiffs were four customers who purchased cable television, internet, or telephone services from Charter Communications Entertainment I, LLC and Charter Communications, Inc. (together, Charter). After a severe snow storm, Plaintiffs sued Charter on behalf of themselves and a putative class of others claimed to be similarly situated, contending that Charter violated various duties by failing to provide credits to its customers for their loss of service during the storm. Charter removed the case to federal court, invoking the Class Action Fairness Act (Act).. The federal district court subsequently granted Charter’s motion to dismiss, finding that the claims of three Plaintiffs were moot because they had received credits covering the time they were without service and that, as to the fourth plaintiff, the complaint failed to state a claim. The First Circuit vacated in part the district court’s opinion, holding that the district court (1) properly exercised its jurisdiction under the Act; but (2) erred in granting Charter’s motion to dismiss, as all four plaintiffs may pursue their requests for declaratory relief regarding their dispute with Charter over the nature of its obligations to them, and Plaintiffs’ complaint pleaded facts sufficient to plausibly show that they were entitled to relief on some of their claims.View "Cooper v. Charter Cmmc’ns Ents. I, LLC" on Justia Law
Hidalgo-Velez v. San Juan Asset Mgmt., Inc.
At issue in this case was whether alleged misrepresentations made by Defendants were made “in connection with” a transaction in covered securities under the Securities Litigation Uniform Standards Act of 1998 (SLUSA). Plaintiffs, investors in a licensed non-diversified investment company, filed a putative class action in Puerto Rico court against the Fund and others alleging fraud or misrepresentation in violation of Puerto Rico law after the Fund invested the majority of its assets in notes sold by Lehman Brothers, resulting in the Fund adopting a plan of liquidation. Defendants removed the action to the federal district court, asserting that it fell within the ambit of the SLUSA. Plaintiffs unsuccessfully sought remand on jurisdictional grounds. Ultimately, the district court granted Defendants’ motions to dismiss premised on SLUSA preclusion. The First Circuit vacated the judgment of dismissal and remitted with instructions to return the case to the Puerto Rico Court, holding that the link between the misrepresentations alleged and the covered securities in the Fund’s portfolio was too fragile to support a finding of SLUSA preclusion under Chadbourne & Parke LLP v. Troice. View "Hidalgo-Velez v. San Juan Asset Mgmt., Inc." on Justia Law
Merrimon, et al v. Unum Life Insurance Company
Plaintiffs challenged an insurance company's use of "retained asset accounts" (RAAs) as a method of paying life insurance benefits in the ERISA context. They presented the district court with two basic questions: (1) whether the insurer's method of paying death benefits in the form of RAAs constitute self-dealing in plan assets in violation of ERISA section 406(b); and (2) whether this redemption method offended the insurer's duty of loyalty toward the class of beneficiaries in violation of ERISA section 404(a). The district court answered the first question in favor of the insurer and the second in favor of the plaintiff class. The court then awarded class-wide relief totaling more than $12,000,000. Both sides appealed. Upon review, the First Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with the district court that the insurer's use of RAAs in this case did not constitute self-dealing in plan assets. However, the Court disagreed with the district court's answer to the second question and held that the insurer's use of RAAs did not breach any duty of loyalty owed by the insurer to the plaintiff class. View "Merrimon, et al v. Unum Life Insurance Company" on Justia Law
Genereux v. Raytheon Co.
Plaintiffs filed a putative class action in the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts, invoking federal diversity jurisdiction, alleging that Defendant, Raytheon Company, negligently exposed Plaintiffs and others similarly situated to beryllium. Plaintiffs’ principal theory of liability was that the beryllium exposure caused subcellular change. Plaintiffs alternatively argued that a cause of action for medical monitoring under Massachusetts law does not require a showing of subcellular or other physiological change. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of Defendant. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) because no named Plaintiff or any class member had as yet contracted beryllium sensitization, the first manifestation of subcellular change resulting from beryllium exposure, Plaintiffs’ first claim failed; and (2) Plaintiffs did not preserve a claim under their alternative theory. View "Genereux v. Raytheon Co." on Justia Law