Articles Posted in Class Action

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Insured filed a complaint alleging that Insured had breached a title insurance policy. Insured also alleged that Insurer had acted in bad faith and requested an award of attorney’s fees and costs pursuant to Va. Code Ann. 38.2-209. Insured demanded a jury trial “on all counts so triable.” Insurer sought to have the trial judge, rather than the jury, consider the issues of bad faith and attorney’s fees. The jury was permitted to award attorney’s fees. The jury found in favor of Insured and awarded $442,000 in attorneys’ fees and costs. The trial court judge vacated the jury’s award of attorney’s fees and costs, ruling that section 38.2-209(A) requires a judge, not a jury, to determine whether an insurer committed a bad faith breach of an insurance contract warranting an award of attorney’s fees. Reconsidering the evidence de novo, the judge then concluded that the evidence was insufficient to prove that Insurer had acted in bad faith. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) a judge, not a jury, must determine whether an insurer has acted in bad faith under the policy; and (2) section 38.2.209(A) does not implicate the right to a jury trial under Va. Const. art. I, 11. View "REVI, LLC v. Chicago Title Ins. Co." on Justia Law

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The Clerk of the Circuit Court of the City of Fredericksburg, filed a putative class action in the federal district court against the Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae), and the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (Freddie Mac), alleging that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac had failed to pay recordation taxes imposed by Code §§ 58.1-801 and -802. The federal court certified to the Virginia Supreme Court two questions: Under Virginia law, does a clerk of court possess statutory standing to initiate a lawsuit, in his official capacity, to enforce the real estate transfer tax; If a clerk of court does possess such authority, does Virginia law authorize him to do so as a class representative on behalf of all clerks of court throughout the Commonwealth? The court answered the first question “no” and did not address the second. The court characterized the clerk’s duties as ministerial and noted the statutory scheme for enforcement of the transfer tax. View "Small v. Fed. Nat'l Mortg. Ass'n" on Justia Law

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A putative class action was filed in the U.S. District Court. The representative plaintiffs in the class action asserted claims of strict liability, negligence and medical monitoring against Merck & Co., Inc. Class certification was eventually denied, and the class action was dismissed. Prior to the dismissal of the putative class action, four Virginia residents filed individual state law actions against Merck in the southern district of New York, asserting federal diversity jurisdiction. The district court granted Merck's motion for summary judgment, finding that the plaintiffs' actions were untimely under Virginia's two-year statute of limitations for personal injuries, and the pendency of the putative class action did not toll Virginia's limitations period for the four plaintiffs' state law claims. The plaintiffs appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals, and the Virginia Supreme Court accepted certification to determine questions of state law. The Court held that Virginia law recognizes neither equitable nor statutory tolling of a Virginia statute of limitations for unnamed putative class members due to the pendency of a putative class action in another jurisdiction. View "Casey v. Merck & Co., Inc." on Justia Law