After a bit of a lull on the class action front, the Ninth Circuit had a busy morning. Two major opinions on class action issues were just issued by Ninth Circuit panels, and both opinions are sure to generate a good deal of discussion. Both address areas of unsettled law among various federal courts. The first is of interest to wage & hour practitioners and the second addresses the argument that large statutory damage awards defeat "superiority" of the class action procedure:
- Wang v. Chinese Daily News, Inc. (9th Cir. Sept. 27, 2010) is something of a kitchen sink of class action issues. Among other things, the Ninth Circuit affirmed (1) the concurrent prosecution of a FLSA opt-in collective action and a Rule 23 opt-out class action, (2) the invalidation of Rule 23 opt-outs due to coercion, (3) the decision to conduct a corrective opt-out process after the trial, and (4) certification under Rule 23(b)(2). The Court also held that the UCL was not preempted by the FLSA.
- Bateman v. American Multi-Cinema, Inc. (9th Cir. Sept. 27, 2010) concerned the singular issue of a class certification denial on superiority grounds. The Ninth Circuit concluded that none of the three grounds relied upon by the district court — the disproportionality between the potential statutory liability and the actual harm suffered, the enormity of the potential damages, or AMC’s good faith compliance — justified the denial of class certification on superiority grounds.
Both opinions are substantial, and I will try to give both an extended treatment this evening. Full disclosure: Greg Karasik of Spiro Moss represents Plaintiff Bateman.