Class Actions Blog

Class action filed against American Airlines for losing bags, and refusing to refund baggage fees

Posted on: July 28th, 2010 by Steve Larson

American Airlines has been hit with a $5 million class-action over lost bags and its refusal to reimburse the baggage fees it charged.  The lawsuit against American Airlines is the first since the airline started charging fees for handling and transporting luggage in June 2008, one of the first airlines to impose such fees.  The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Danielle Covarrubias of Pierce County, Wash., who paid a $25 fee for her single piece of luggage on a flight to Grand Rapids, Mich.  The bag never arrived, and the airline refused her demand for a refund of the baggage fee, the lawsuit says.

The case is interesting because it demonstrates that consumers can use the class action device to encourage large corporations to improve their customer service.

Are there class action abuses?

Posted on: July 26th, 2010 by Steve Larson

Years ago, there were some isolated abuses of class actions that resulted in some negative publicity for class actions.  Because of that negative publicity, Congress passed laws like the Class Action Fairness Act, which have largely eliminated complaints about the conduct of class actions in the past few years.

How will the court decide whether to certify the case as a class action?

Posted on: July 22nd, 2010 by Steve Larson

The court will have to be persuaded that the following 4 things have been proved before it certifies a class action:

1.  The class is so numerous, that individual lawsuits could not be filed and joined together.  That usually means that there must be at least 40 people that are similarly situated.

2.  There are common questions of fact or law, which means that all the class members have suffered a similar wrong, and proving that wrong would involve proving similar facts and using similar law.

3.  The claim of the plaintiff is typical of all the class members’ claims.  In other words, the plaintiff and the class have suffered from a similar wrongdoing, and the plaintiff’s claim is not unusual as compared to the claims of the class members.

4.  Plaintiff and class counsel are qualified to and will protect the interests of the class members.

What are the steps in resolving a class action?

Posted on: July 20th, 2010 by Steve Larson

After the class action lawsuit is filed, class counsel will move to have the case certified as a class action.  If the court certifies the case as a class action, class counsel will have to send a notice to everyone that the court rules is similarly situated and therefore part of the class.  Those people that are sent notices are called class members.  Class members then have the opportunity to opt-out if they do not want to participate in the class action.  Once the class certification issue is resolved, then a lot more depositions of defendant’s witnesses are taken, and a lot of motions are filed by the defendant.   Read more…

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.

Legal Disclaimer

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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