Class Actions Blog

US Supreme Court Limits Class Arbitrations

Posted on: July 16th, 2010 by Steve Larson

In a decision that may spark Congress to pass legislation limiting contractual arbitration provisions, the U.S. Supreme Court in Stolt-Nielsen S.A. v. AnimalFeeds International Corp.,130 S.Ct. 1758 (2010), held that “a party may not be compelled under the FAA to submit to class arbitration unless there is a contractual basis for concluding that the party agreed to do so.”

In this case, AnimalFeeds brought antitrust class action claims against Stolt-Nielsen, and the parties agreed to submit the issue of class arbitration to an arbitration panel.  The parties stipulated that the agreement was “silent,” however, with respect to class action arbitration. Read more…

How much time will a class action take?

Posted on: July 14th, 2010 by Steve Larson

Being a plaintiff is usually not a huge time commitment.  In order to have the case authorized to proceed as a class action, class counsel has to file a motion for class certification.  In the motion, class counsel will ask the court to allow the plaintiff to be the class representative for the entire class.  Before that, the plaintiff that filed the suit will have to be a witness at a deposition, which is an out of court statement taken before a court reporter relating to the defendant’s wrongdoing.  It usually takes a couple of hours.  The plaintiff may also have to produce relevant documents that are in the plaintiff’s possession.  If the plaintiff becomes a class representative, the plaintiff will have the responsibility for looking out for the interests of all of the class members and, among other things, will have to stay informed about the status of the case and weigh in on major decisions (such as settlement).  Sometimes class actions get resolved quickly.  I am currently having settlement discussions in a class action we filed just a few weeks ago.  However, sometimes they take a long time.  I recently tried a class action that had been pending for 9 years, because an issue went all the way up to the US Supreme Court before this class action could be tried.

What does a class action cost?

Posted on: July 12th, 2010 by Steve Larson

There is usually no upfront monetary obligation for the plaintiff.  The attorneys for the plaintiff are called class counsel.  The plaintiff in a class action does not pay class counsel any attorney fees out of his or her own pocket.  Class counsel take the case on a contingency fee, and they only get paid their fees if they win or settle the case.  At the end of the case, the court determines if any attorney fees will be awarded from the recovery, and the amount, if any.

How do you start a class action?

Posted on: July 8th, 2010 by Steve Larson

If you believe you have been wronged, and believe that a number of other people have been wronged in the same way, you should contact a lawyer that does class actions.  If the case has merit, and can be pursued as a class action, a class action may be filed.  The person that files the class action lawsuit is called a plaintiff, and the entity that did the wrongdoing, typically a corporation, is called the defendant.  Anyone that has suffered the wrongdoing at issue can serve as the plaintiff.

What types of wrongs have been the subject of class actions?

Posted on: July 6th, 2010 by Steve Larson

Class actions have proved to be the best method for resolving many types of cases that we handle, including the following:

1.  Securities fraud cases where a corporation has made misrepresentations to its many shareholders.

2.  Environmental contamination cases such as the Exxon Valdez oil spill, or what is now going on in the Gulf of Mexico, where large numbers of people are damaged in a variety of ways.

3.  Antitrust cases where corporations have engaged in a conspiracy to fix prices of consumer goods for a large number of consumers.

4.  Consumer cases where corporations have taken advantage of a large number of consumers in an unlawful way.

5.  Employment cases, where a corporate employer has violated the law in the way it compensated or treated its employees.

Nationwide class action brought by pizza delivery drivers against Domino’s Pizza certified

Posted on: July 2nd, 2010 by Steve Larson

On June 21, 2010, a federal district court judge in Minnesota conditionally certified a class pursuant to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).  The FLSA allows employees to bring collective actions if they are not being paid the minimum wage.  The drivers allege that they have not been adequately reimbursed for delivery expenses and therefore have been paid less than the federal minimum wage.  Domino’s maintained that there were variations in reimbursement rates by store and to determine whether the expenses were insufficient would require individual inquiries, which should defeat the certification.  The case is important because the district court judge correctly recognized that in an FLSA action, at conditional certification, plaintiffs need only establish a colorable basis for their claim that the putative class members were the victims of a single decision, policy or plan, and plaintiffs had made a showing that Domino’s stores reimbursed according to a common policy.

Click here to read the court’s decision to certify this class action.

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The information contained in this blog does not constitute legal advice, and does not create an attorney-client relationship. We make no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information contained in or linked to this blog.

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This blog is intended to provide information to the general public and to practitioners about developments that may impact Oregon class actions.

About the author

  • Steve Larson

  • Steve Larson
  • Steve Larson has been representing investors, consumers and employees in class actions in Oregon for over 20 years. He is a shareholder at the law firm of Stoll Berne in Portland, Oregon.
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