class certification

Supreme Court Declines to Take Up Circuit Split on Whether Courts May Grant Class Certification by Averaging Different Class Member Damages

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On April 29, 2024, the Supreme Court issued an Order List indicating that certiorari had been denied in Brinker International, Inc. v. Steinmetz, Docket No. 23-648.

The Eleventh Circuit Brinker Decision

Brinker was a July 2023 Eleventh Circuit decision affirming class certification and holding that class members’ exposure of their payment information to the dark web was sufficient harm to establish standing in a data breach case. The Eleventh Circuit set forth an expansive view of when data breaches can create Article III constitutional standing to support class action certification. The case arose from a 2018 attack on Chili’s restaurant computer systems, after which hackers posted stolen customer credit card data to an online marketplace for stolen information on the dark web. The Eleventh Circuit held that class members who alleged their credit card information was exposed for sale on the dark web had satisfied the “actual misuse” standard for sufficient

Part 4: Making a COVID-19 Tuition Suit Last

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We recently highlighted two Boston-based COVID-19 tuition refund class action suits, against Brandeis University and Boston College, and the impact of a provision in the Commonwealth’s Fiscal Year 2024 Budget that grants retroactive immunity from claims arising out of tuition or fees paid for the Spring 2020 term. In both cases, with orders issued just days apart, the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts in Boston found that provision, Section 80(b), was reasonable and narrowly tailored and therefore not unconstitutional. In the Brandeis case, the ruling ended the matter entirely, whereas the case against BC will proceed as to the non-Spring 2020 semesters.

A Refresher on the Boston-Based Cases

In Part 2 of our series, we reviewed the legal backdrop of this wave of class action litigation and explored some common pitfalls in education-based claims, building off of our initial post, which focused on suits against Suffolk University and Boston University. In

The Budget Saves Brandeis: An Update on COVID-19 Tuition Litigation

In Part 2 of our series on our Massachusetts and Boston-based COVID-19 tuition refund class action suits, we reviewed the legal backdrop of this wave of class action litigation and explored some common pitfalls in education-based claims, noting that even where cases are able to proceed based on adequate framing of the claims and underlying facts, many lose their steam when a university successfully argues for denial of plaintiffs’ attempts to pursue their cases as class actions. One example of a Boston-area case in which class certification that we discussed was the May 2023 denial in Omori v. Brandeis University, which was dismissed earlier this month for an entirely different reason. We discuss that below, along with a similar ruling in Rodrigues v. Boston College issued just days prior.

Immunity for Tuition Claims in the 2024 Budget

Despite the defeat of its attempt to certify the proposed class (as well as the First Circuit’s denial of plaintiffs’

First Circuit Revives Data Breach Class Action Claims in Webb v. Injured Workers Pharmacy, LLC

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Courts and class action counsel have been considering what kinds of injuries can confer standing to pursue federal claims following the Supreme Court’s 2021 decision in TransUnion LLC v. Ramirez, which held that the defendants’ alleged actions that “deprived [plaintiffs] of their right to receive information in the format required by statute” was not sufficient to establish a concrete injury necessary to bring a claim. Ever since the TransUnion decision, the question of what is sufficient injury has been reverberating throughout the lower courts and reaching federal courts of appeal.

The First Circuit has now confronted that question on multiple occasions, including its 2022 decision in Laufer v. Acheson (now on appeal to the Supreme Court) that held “dignitary harm” from discrimination was sufficient, along with allegations of “frustration and humiliation” to confer standing on a serial plaintiff who is a website accessibility tester. For more on Laufer,

Part 2 – Slowing the Spread of Litigation: An Update on First Circuit COVID-19 Tuition Refund Class Actions

Part 2: The Legal Backdrop

In Part 1 of this series, we provided a brief overview and introduction of the Boston-based COVID-19 tuition refund class action cases, noting generally that most similar suits haven’t made it very far, as courts tend to rule early and often for the educational institution. Below is a brief discussion of some common pitfalls that have repeatedly plagued this type of litigation.

Framing the Case

One threshold hurdle is that COVID-19 tuition reimbursement cases against public colleges and universities are often dismissed in the earliest stages of litigation under sovereign immunity, leaving cases against private institutions with the most possibility for advancement. Even in those cases, however, courts often find that plaintiffs’ claims are not properly framed. For example, although some states permit claims for educational malpractice, plaintiffs often run into problems in attempting to establish a basis on which to evaluate the quality of services provided by the educational institution. To

District of Maine Applies the First Circuit’s Murray Decision to Approve Class Action Settlement

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In early 2023, the District of Maine was the first district court to apply and interpret a recent and notable First Circuit ruling that should be top-of-mind for class action attorneys and litigants seeking approval of settlements for cases brought on behalf of multiple plaintiff classes and including class representative incentive awards.

That notable First Circuit class action decision from December 2022 was Murray v. Grocery Delivery E-Services USA, Inc., 55 F.4th 340 (1st Cir. 2022), in which the appellate court considered a challenge to the approval of a class action settlement under Federal Rule 23(e).

The First Circuit Scrutinizes Multi-Class Settlements and Deepens the Circuit-Court Divide on Incentive Awards

In Murray, with a 31-page opinion written by Judge Kayatta, the First Circuit vacated the district court’s approval of the proposed settlement and remanded for further proceedings. The case is particularly noteworthy for its determination that members of different classes required separate

Even With Common Questions, Chapter 93A Deceptive Marketing Claims Are Ill-Suited for Class Treatment

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Earlier this month, in Plastic Surgery Associates, SC v. Cynosure, Inc., United States District Judge Denise Casper denied plaintiffs’ motion for class certification and allowed Cynosure’s motion for summary judgment on claims arising from the marketing of a medical device intended to reduce body fat. The decision provides a searching and instructive analysis of the standards for class certification under Fed. R. Civ. P. 23, particularly for claims under Massachusetts’s consumer protection law, Mass Gen. L. c. 93A (“Chapter 93A”).

In Cynosure, plaintiffs purported to represent a class of all U.S.-based purchasers and lessees of the same medical device over a four-year period. Over 1,400 customers, mostly plastic surgeons and medical spas, had purchased the device for approximately $165,000 each. Plaintiffs each claimed they were harmed by the alleged deceptive marketing of the devices. Invoking Rule 23(c)(4), plaintiffs asked the Court to certify four issues for their Chapter 93A claim, including whether Cynosure

The District of Massachusetts Declines to Strike FCRA Class Claims in McIntyre v. RentGrow, Inc.

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In McIntyre v. RentGrow, Inc., No. 18-cv-12141-ADB, the District of Massachusetts recently denied a defendant’s motion to dismiss or to strike class claims in a putative Fair Credit Reporting Act (“FCRA”) action. The plaintiff’s complaint asserted FCRA claims on behalf of a nationwide class of tenants allegedly harmed by the defendant’s tenant screening reports that purportedly contained inaccurate and outdated eviction information.

The Court Declines to Dismiss or Strike FCRA Class Allegations

Under FCRA § 1681e(b), a defendant violates the Act if it reports inaccurate information about a consumer due to a failure to follow reasonable procedures to ensure accuracy, causing harm to the consumer. The complaint alleged that the defendant’s purchase of eviction information that was not updated, with knowledge of the errors, resulted in inaccurate screening reports that unfairly harmed thousands of tenants. The Court determined that the class claims in the complaint met the requirements of Rule