Brenda Kennedy was hospitalized in 2009 for four days. She had an insurance policy from United American that paid benefits for each day that she spent in the hospital, and she assigned those benefits to the hospital. When she received her hospital bill, she discovered that it had only covered three days, not four. So she bought a class action on behalf of everyone who received benefits from the policy.

United American moved to dismiss the case because Ms. Kennedy had not received benefits herself; she had assigned them to the hospital. The court agreed with the argument, but stayed … Continue Reading

Despite the warnings, Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. Dukes did not herald the end of the class action, or even class action scholarship. Indeed, new debates have risen in its wake. One of the most interesting is what to do about classes where large numbers of class members might not have suffered any injury. Courts do certify these cases, for settlement purposes if nothing else. But should they?

One plaintiff attorney-scholar group (Joshua Davis, Eric Cramer, and Caitlin May) says "yes." In their paper The Puzzle of Class Actions with Uninjured Members, they argue that … Continue Reading

Today’s case, Espenscheid v. DirectSat USA, LLC (7th Cir. 2012) is a little tricky, procedurally. Three plaintiffs filed an FLSA class action (and collective action) against DirectSat USA, LLC. The Northern District of Illinois originally certified a class, but then decertified it, at which point the plaintiffs each settled on an individual basis.

Now, here’s the tricky part. Having settled the case, they appealed the decertification.

But wait, you ask. How could they do that? They settled their claims!

The plaintiffs’ response: the settlement agreement reserved their right to appeal. Of course, they would still face a standing problem. Since Continue Reading

Like many cell-phone users, Jerome Damasco received an an unsolicited text message on his phone. Unlike many cell-phone users, he decided to make a federal case of it. So he filed a class action in federal court, alleging that Clearwire (the advertiser) had violated the Telephone Consumer Protection Act.

Faced with the complaint, Clearwire offered Damasco the full damages he sought as an individual. (It also offered to make the same payment to ten other unnamed individuals, suggesting that this may have been a technical glitch rather than a knowing TCPA violation.) It warned Damasco that it considered this … Continue Reading

Today’s opinion, Doe v., 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 56567 (C.D. Cal. May 25, 2011), involves a plaintiff and a defendant who made the same mistake: prizing an immediate tactical move over the internal consistency of their positions. For the plaintiff, the inconsistency came from an attempt to turn an unquestionably horrific individual incident into a class action. For the defendant, it came from the desire to win each individual motion without considering the effect on its larger strategy.

The facts that the Jane Doe plaintiff alleged in her complaint are, without a doubt, horrific. Ms. Doe had subscribed … Continue Reading