Class Actions Blog

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.

What is a class action?

Posted on: July 1st, 2010 by Steve Larson

A class action is a lawsuit where one or more persons can file a lawsuit and ask the court to allow that person or persons to represent everyone that has the same type of claim.  The US Congress and Oregon state legislative assembly have passed laws allowing class actions, because the trial of a multitude of almost identical claims in a single class action is the best way to handle those claims.  It saves time, effort, expense, and promotes uniform results.  It is often also the only way that scores of people with small claims can obtain a remedy for their damages, because their individual damages are not large enough to justify hiring a lawyer.   Class actions are the best tool available in any justice system for the little guy to have a chance against the large corporation that is engaging in unlawful behavior.

US Supreme Court Supports Class Actions

Posted on: June 24th, 2010 by Steve Larson

The conventional wisdom is that the US Supreme Court is anti-class action.  However, recent case law suggests otherwise.

A recent example is a proposed class action called Shady Grove Orthopedic Associates, P.A., Petitioner  v. Allstate Insurance Company, 130 S.Ct 1431 (2010).  In that case, the putative class representative, a medical care facility, alleged that Allstate had a routine practice of paying bills late and not paying interest.  Allstate countered by citing a New York state law which prohibits class actions in New York courts whenever those bringing the lawsuit seek a “penalty”- in this case, the recovery of interest –unless the law that creates the penalty specifically allows class actions.  Although the case was before a federal court, Allstate argued that this New York procedural rule should apply rather than the federal court rules that permit class actions. Read more…

Ninth Circuit Reaffirms the Standard of Review for Class Certification in Dukes v. Wal-Mart

Posted on: June 17th, 2010 by Steve Larson

In Betty Dukes v. Wal-Mart, Inc., 603 F.3d 571 (9th Cir. 2010), the Ninth Circuit affirmed the certification of a class of female Wal-Mart employees who alleged that Wal-Mart discriminated against them in compensation and promotions.  The Dukes decision is newsworthy because it is the largest gender discrimination class ever certified.  Because of this, and because commentators suggest that there are substantial differences among the circuits, it is likely that the US Supreme Court will grant certiorari.

However, just because the class is large does not justify granting certiorari.  Wal-Mart is a huge employer, and just because it is a large employer should not qualify it for different treatment under the law.  Further, the purported split among the circuits is more imagined than real.  I agree with the Dukes court that consensus is rapidly emerging among the circuits, and that the statement that there are “substantial differences” in the circuits seems to create a distinction where none exists.  The majority in Dukes followed longstanding precedent when clarifying the standard trial courts must follow when considering class certification.  Although some suggest otherwise, the standard announced in Dukes is nothing really new.

Read more…

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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