Justia U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Class Action

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Plaintiffs, holders of BP securities, filed suit against BP and two of its executives, alleging that BP made two distinct series of misrepresentations in violation of federal securities law: one series regarding its pre-Deepwater Horizon spill safety procedures, and one regarding the flow rate of the oil after the spill occurred. The district court only certified the post-spill class. Both sides appealed. The court concluded that the district court did not abuse its discretion in certifying the Post-Spill class where the district court determined that plaintiffs had established a model of damages consistent with their liability case and capable of measurement across the class, as required by the Supreme Court’s recent decision in Comcast Corp. v. Behrend. Accordingly, the court affirmed as to that issue. The court also affirmed the district court's decision not to certify the Pre-Spill class where plaintiffs’ materialization-of-the-risk theory cannot support class certification. View "Ludlow v. BP" on Justia Law

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In these consolidated cases, BP appealed three settlement awards, related to the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill, that it paid to nonprofits through its Court-Supervised Settlement Program. On appeal, BP argued that the Claims Administrator improperly interpreted the Settlement Agreement. The awards were based on the Claims Administrator’s determination that nonprofits may count donations and grants as “revenue” under the terms of the Agreement (the Nonprofit-Revenue Interpretation). As a preliminary matter, the court concluded that it has jurisdiction over this appeal under the collateral order doctrine and that BP's appeals were timely. On the merits, the court concluded that BP failed to show that the Nonprofit-Revenue Interpretation violates the plain language of the Agreement. The court held that the Nonprofit-Revenue Interpretation does not alter the class definition in violation of Rule 23 or Article III. Finally, the court concluded that there was no abuse of discretion in the district court's denial of review of the individual awards. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "In Re: Deepwater Horizon" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against Denbury, alleging that Denbury breached its duty to act as a reasonable and prudent operator of the well that was drilled under oil, gas, and mineral leases. At issue on appeal was whether the district court erred in remanding the case on the basis that the local single event exclusion under the Class Action Fairness Act (CAFA), 28 U.S.C. 1332(d)(11)(B)(ii), (ii)(I), applies to this case. The court concluded that the plain text of the exclusion supports plaintiffs' view that the terms "event" and "occurrence" are not generally understood to apply only to incidents that occur at a discrete moment in time. Moreover, this understanding is supported by legislative history and other case law interpreting the local single event exclusion. Therefore, the court held that, although the exclusion applied in cases in which the single event or occurrence happens at a discrete moment in time, the single event or occurrence may also be constituted by a pattern of conduct in which the pattern is consistent in leading to a single focused event that culminates in the basis of the asserted liability. Accordingly, the court held that the failure of the Well constituted the "event or occurrence" from which the claims of plaintiffs arose. The court affirmed the judgment of the district court.View "Rainbow Gun Club, Inc., et al. v. Denbury Onshore, L.L.C., et al." on Justia Law

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Cedar Lodge filed a proposed class action suit against Fairway Defendants in Louisiana state court and Fairway Defendants removed to federal court under the Class Action Fairness Act (CAFA), 28 U.S.C. 1332(d). Cedar Lodge subsequently amended the complaint to add STS, a Louisiana citizen, as defendant and moved to remand to state court under the local controversy exception to CAFA jurisdiction. The district court remanded. This court then granted the Fairway Defendants permission to appeal the remand order and now hold that the application of the local controversy exception depends on the pleadings at the time the class action is removed, not on an amended complaint filed after removal. Accordingly, the court reversed and remanded for further proceedings. View "Cedar Lodge Plantation, L.L.C., et al. v. CSHV Fairway View I, L.L.C., et al." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff was an original member of the class of plaintiffs in Betty Dukes, et al. v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. After the Supreme Court decertified the Dukes class, plaintiff filed this putative class action in the Texas district court. That court dismissed plaintiff's individual claims because they had ceased to be tolled and were therefore time-barred. The court reversed and remanded, holding that, under Am. Pipe & Constr. Co. v. Utah and its progeny, the relevant statute of limitations remained tolled when plaintiff filed her complaint in this case. View "Odle v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc." on Justia Law

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The State filed a class action suit against several insurers to recover on the homeowner insurance policies purchased by individual Louisiana citizens but assigned by the respective policy holders to the State in return for State financial assistance in repairing and rebuilding their homes in the wake of the hurricanes. Defendants removed to federal court. The State eventually dropped its class allegations and severed this individual action from the original class action case. At issue was whether there was federal jurisdiction over these individual cases, once part of the Class Action Fairness Act (CAFA), 28 U.S.C. 1332(d)(2), class action. The court held that the general rule regarding federal jurisdiction over a removed case controlled; jurisdictional facts were determined at the time of removal, not by subsequent events; because at the time of removal CAFA supplied federal subject matter jurisdiction over these cases, the court held that CAFA continued to provide jurisdiction over these individual cases notwithstanding their severance from the class. View "State of Louisiana v. American National Property and Casualty Co., et al." on Justia Law

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The claims on appeal relate to the 2010 explosion aboard the "Deepwater Horizon," an offshore drilling rig, and the consequent discharge of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. This is an interlocutory appeal from the district court's order certifying a class action and approving a settlement under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23. The court concluded that the district court was correct to conclude that the applicable requirements of Rule 23 were satisfied in this case. Whether or not BP's arguments regarding Exhibits 4B and 4C were correct as a matter of contract interpretation, neither class certification nor settlement approval were contrary to Article III in this case. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's order. View "In Re: Deepwater Horizon, et al." on Justia Law

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The State filed six in parens patriae complaints in state court alleging that six credit card companies (defendants) violated the Mississippi Consumer Protection Act (MCPA), Miss. Code Ann. 75-24-1, by charging consumers for products they did not want or need. Defendants removed to federal court arguing that there was federal subject matter jurisdiction because this was a mass action under the Class Action Fairness Act of 2005 (CAFA), 28 U.S.C. 1332(d), 1453, 171 1-171 5, and because the State's MCPA claims were preempted by the federal National Banking Act (NBA), 12 C.F.R. Part 37. The court reversed and remanded, concluding that neither CAFA nor complete preemption by the NBA provided the basis for subject matter jurisdiction. View "Hood, et al. v. JP Morgan Chase & Co., et al." on Justia Law

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This case stemmed from the Deepwater Horizon drilling platform oil spill. On appeal, BP challenged the district court's decision upholding the Claims Administrator's interpretation of the settlement agreement between it and the class of parties injured in the oil spill and the district court's dismissal of its action for breach of contract against the Administrator and denial of its motion for a preliminary injunction. The court concluded that the balance of equities favored a tailored stay where those who experienced actual injury traceable to loss from the Deepwater Horizon accident continued to receive recovery but those who did not receive their payments until this case was fully heard and decided through the judicial process weighed in favor of BP. Accordingly, the court reversed the denial of the preliminary injunction and instructed the district court to expeditiously craft a narrowly-tailored injunction that allowed the time necessary for deliberate reconsideration of significant issues on remand. The court affirmed the district court's dismissal of BP's suit against the Claim Administrator. View "In Re: Deepwater Horizon" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs, members of a certified class of securities fraud plaintiffs whose certification order was vacated in 2004 (the Drnek action), filed a class action in 2009 reciting the same claims previously outlined in the Drnek action. The district court concluded that plaintiffs' claims have been extinguished because they filed their class action more than five years after the Drnek court vacated its certification order. The court held that the Drnek court's vacatur of certification caused American Pipe & Construction Co. v. Utah tolling to cease and the statute of repose to resume running. Because plaintiffs brought this action after the statute of repose expired, their claim has been extinguished. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court. View "Hall, et al. v. Variable Annuity Life Ins. Co., et al." on Justia Law