Articles Posted in Class Action

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The United States District Court for the Eastern District of Washington certified a question of Washington law to the Washington Supreme Court. This case began in 2016 when the two named plaintiffs filed this putative class action lawsuit against Dovex on behalf of Dovex's seasonal and migrant agricultural employees. Each summer, Dovex employs hundreds of seasonal and migrant workers, many of whom speak limited English, to harvest apples, pears, and cherries in Dovex's orchards. The plaintiffs alleged Dovex violated state and federal law by willfully refusing to pay wages and failing to "pay minimum wage, provide paid rest breaks, maintain accurate and adequate time and wage records, pay wages when due, [and] provide accurate statements of hours worked." The federal court asked: (1) whether Washington law requires agricultural employers to pay their pieceworkers for time spent performing activities outside of piece-rate picking work (e.g., "Piece Rate Down Time" and similar work); if yes, then how must agricultural employers calculate the rate of pay for time spent performing activities outside of piece-rate picking work (e.g., "Piece Rate Down Time" and similar work)? The Washington Supreme Court answered the first question “yes:” agricultural workers may be paid on a piece-rate basis only for the hours in which they are engaged in piece-rate picking work. Time spent performing activities outside the scope of piece-rate picking work must be compensated on a separate hourly basis. The Court answered the second question posed consistent with the parties’ position: the rate of pay for time spent performing activities outside of piece-rate picking work must be calculated at the applicable minimum wage or the agreed rate, whichever was greater. View "Carranza v. Dovex Fruit Co." on Justia Law

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Judith Chavez and other registered nurses (nurses) sought class certification in their wage action against their employer, Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital at Pasco d/b/a Lourdes Medical Center and John Serle (Lourdes). The trial court denied class certification, and the Court of Appeals affirmed. At issue before the Washington Supreme Court was whether the trial court properly found that the nurses failed to satisfy the predominance and superiority requirements necessary for class certification. The Court held the trial court abused its discretion by finding that individual issues predominate and by failing to compare alternative methods of adjudication. Furthermore, the Supreme Court held that predominance was met because the dominant and overriding issue in this litigation was whether Lourdes failed to ensure the nurses could take rest breaks and second meal periods and could record missed breaks. Superiority was met because a class action was superior to other methods of adjudication for the resolution of these claims. View "Chavez v. Our Lady of Lourdes Hosp. at Pasco" on Justia Law

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Kenneth Wright received an unsolicited text message that appeared to come from an acquaintance inviting him to download Lyft's cellphone application. Wright sued as a putative class member. The federal district court has certified questions of Washington law to the Washington Supreme Court pertaining to the Washington Consumer Electronic Mail Act (CEMA) and the Washington Consumer Protection Act (CPA). The questions centered on whether (1) the recipient of a text message that violates the CEMA has a private right of action for damages (as opposed to injunctive relief) directly under the statute; and (2) whether the liquidated damages provision of CEMA establish a causation and/or injury elements of a claim under the CPA, or must a recipient of a text in violation of CEMA prove injury-in-fact before s/he can recover the liquidated amount. The Washington Supreme Court answered "no" to the first question, and "yes" to the second. View "Wright v. Lyft, Inc." on Justia Law

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Farmworkers filed a class action lawsuit against four corporate defendants. Two questions of Washington law were certified to the Washington Supreme Court, arising from this suit: The first question implicated RCW 19.30.010(2)'s definition of a "farm labor contractor." The second question implicated RCW 19.30.200, which imposed joint and several liability for Farm Labor Contractor Act (FLCA) violations. The certified questions required the Supreme Court to decide whether defendant-appellant NW Management and Realty Services Inc. was a "farm labor contractor" under RCW 19.30.01 0(2) and, if so, whether the other defendants "knowingly use[ d]" its services under RCW 19.30.200 (There is no dispute that NW was unlicensed at all times relevant to this case). The plain language of the FLCA compels the Washington Court to answer yes to both certified questions. View "Saucedo v. John Hancock Life & Health Ins. Co." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff in this putative class action was a Texas resident. Plaintiff alleged she received deceptive debt collection letters from defendant Seattle Service Bureau Inc. (SSB), a corporation with its principal place of business in Washington, pursuant to the referral of unliquidated subrogation claims to SSB by State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company, a corporation with its principal place of business in Illinois. Plaintiff alleges these letters constitute CPA violations by both SSB and State Farm as its principal. Plaintiff asserted she incurred damages caused by the alleged deceptive acts. This case involved two certified questions from the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington. First, the Washington Supreme Court was asked to determine whether the Washington Consumer Protection Act (CPA), chapter 19.86 RCW) allowed a cause of action for a plaintiff residing outside Washington to sue a Washington corporate defendant for allegedly deceptive acts. Second, the Court was asked to determine whether the CPA supported a cause of action for an out-of-state plaintiff to sue an out-of-state defendant for the allegedly deceptive acts of its instate agent. The United States District Court noted an absence of Washington case law providing guidance on these issues. The Washington Supreme Court answered both certified questions in the affirmative. View "Thornell v. Seattle Serv. Bureau, Inc." on Justia Law

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In this class action case, a jury found that the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) violated the implied duty of good faith and fair dealing in its contracts with individual providers who live with the DSHS clients for whom they provide care. The jury found that the providers incurred over $57 million in damages, and the judge awarded an additional $38 million in interest. The DSHS clients who lived with their providers also filed a class action suit, but the judge did not allow them to recover any damages. Upon review of the matter, the Supreme Court upheld the jury's verdict for the providers, the judge's decision to disallow the clients from recovering damages, and the dismissal of the providers' wage claims, because all complied with Washington law. However, the Court reversed the judge's award of prejudgment interest because the damages could not be determined with certainty. View "Rekhter v. Dep't of Soc. & Health Servs." on Justia Law

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Three certified questions came before the court from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals concerning application of the farm labor contractors act (FLCA), chapter 19.30 RCW. The primary question asked whether a trial court, if awarding statutory damages under the civil remedies provision of the FLCA must award $500 per plaintiff per violation. Upon review, the Washington Supreme Court answered in the affirmative. The second question asked whether requiring a trial court to award $500 per plaintiff per violation violated due process or public policy; the Court answered in the negative, expressly limiting its analysis and holding on this question to state due process principles and statutes. The third question asked whether the FLCA provided for awarding statutory damages to persons who have not been shown to have been aggrieved by a particular violation. "Because our standing jurisprudence tracks that of the United States Supreme Court, we leave to the Ninth Circuit to answer this question based on its standing jurisprudence and the standing jurisprudence of the Supreme Court." View "Perez-Farias v. Global Horizons, Inc." on Justia Law

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In November 1998, Respondent David Moeller’s 1996 Honda Civic CRX was damaged in a collision. Respondent had an insurance policy through Farmers Insurance Company of Washington (Farmers). Farmers chose to repair Respondent's damaged car, and he authorized the repairs. In May 1999, Respondent brought suit on behalf of himself and other similarly situated Farmers policy holders in Washington State asserting a breach of contract claim on the grounds that Farmers failed to restore his vehicle to its "preloss condition through payment of the difference in the value between the vehicle's pre-loss value and its value after it was damaged, properly repaired and returned." The issue on appeal before the Supreme Court was whether the contract between Farmers and Respondent provided for the diminished value of the post-accident, repaired car. Upon review, the Court affirmed the appellate court which held that the policy language at issue here allowed for recovery for the diminution in value. View "Moeller v. Farmers Ins. Co. of Wash." on Justia Law

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Washington residents who were consumers of allegedly illegal debt adjustment programs filed a class action lawsuit against Defendants Global Client Solutions, LLC (GCS) and Rocky Mountain Bank and Trust (RMBT). Defendants managed and held âspecial purpose accountsâ as part of their adjustment programs. Payments to consumersâ creditors were authorized from these accounts. When enough money accumulated in a consumerâs account, Defendants would attempt to use the funds to negotiate settlement with creditors on terms favorable to the consumer. Defendants charged consumers various fees for its services. GCSâ earnings came from the fees they charged directly to the special purpose account holders. RMBT did not receive fees, but benefited by holding Plaintiffsâ money without paying interest. In 2009, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) issued a cease and desist order that required a reformation of RMBTâs banking practices. GCS subsequently stopped opening new accounts at RMBT. Later that year, Plaintiffs filed a class action lawsuit against GCS and RMBT on behalf of all consumers who has special purpose accounts. The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Washington certified three questions to the state Supreme Court regarding interpretation of state law in the Plaintiffsâ case. In response, the Supreme Court concluded that GCS is a âdebt adjusterâ and as such, is not exempt from liability under state law. Furthermore, the Court concluded that debt settlement companies that worked with GCS and RMBT are likely subject to the stateâs debt adjusting statute fee limits, depending on whether they are debt adjusters providing debt adjustment services.