U.S. Supreme Court Holds That Offer Of Judgment For Complete Relief Does Not Moot Claim.
By a 6-3 decision in Campbell-Ewald Co. v. Gomez, No. 14-857 (U.S. 2016), the U.S. Supreme Court held that a settlement offer for complete relief does not moot a plaintiff’s case. In this case, the respondent (Gomez) filed a putative class action against the petitioner (Campbell) in California, alleging that Campbell violated the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, 47 U.S.C. § 227(b)(1)(A)(iii), in connection with contract work for the U.S. Navy. Gomez claimed he received unsolicited text messages from Campbell, which had been sent to over 100,000 recipients via a subcontractor, for which he sought the treble statutory damages allowed for willful and knowing violations of the TCPA. Prior to class certification, Campbell offered to settle with Gomez for the amount of his costs and to satisfy his own treble-damages claim, and filed an offer of judgment under Fed. R. Civ. P. 68. After Gomez did not accept the offer during the 14-day window specified in Rule 68, Campbell moved to dismiss the case, arguing that the offer to provide complete relief to Gomez mooted the claim. The district court denied the motion, but later granted summary judgment for Campbell on the basis of sovereign immunity derived from the Navy. On appeal, the Ninth Circuit vacated the summary judgment based on sovereign immunity, and agreed that the offer did not render the claim moot. At the Supreme Court, the majority opinion and Justice Thomas’s concurrence concluded that an offer of complete relief is insufficient to moot the claim. The majority reasoned that the offer loses any efficacy once rejected; the concurrence, however, relied on the law of tender, reasoning that “a mere offer” is not enough to end the case.
TILA Notification Rule Does Not Apply Retroactively.
A 2009 amendment to the Truth in Lending Act requires a creditor who obtains a mortgage loan by sale or transfer to notify the borrower of the transfer in writing. 15 U.S.C. § 1641(g). In Talaie v. Wells Fargo Bank, NA
, 808 F.3d 410 (9th Cir. 2015) (No. 13-56314), the Ninth Circuit held, as a matter of first impression, that this requirement did not apply retroactively to creditors who had acquired mortgage loans before the amendment was enacted. In so holding, the court acknowledged that there was a presumption against retroactive legislation that can only be overcome where Congress expresses a clear and unambiguous intent to do so. The court concluded that neither the text nor legislative history of Section 1641(g) provided a clear indication that Congress intended for it to apply to loans that had been transferred before its enactment. Moreover, while other provisions of TILA contain express effective dates, Section 1641(g) does not, which further indicates that Section 1641(g) applies prospectively and does not extend to loan transfers predating its enactment.
9th Cir. Refuses to Adopt Bright-Line “Manager Rule” Test For FLSA Claims.
By: Matthew J. Thomas
In Rosenfield v. GlobalTranz Enterprises, Inc.
, No. 13-15292 (9th Cir. Dec. 14, 2015), plaintiff, who had served as Manager/Director of Human Resources for the defendant company, was fired after she complained to her superiors in numerous periodic reports that the company was not in compliance with the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Plaintiff brought an action under the FLSA’s anti-retaliation provision. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of defendant, ruling that plaintiff failed to satisfy the so-called “Manager Rule,” adopted by the First, Fifth and Tenth Circuits, which requires a manager to show that she had stepped outside her managerial role of representing the company in order to state a FLSA retaliation claim. The Ninth Circuit reversed, stating that it declined to adopt any bright-line rule to apply when considering whether a manager had made actionable complaints within the meaning of the FLSA. Instead, the court held that the issue of whether a manager has engaged in protected conduct under the FLSA’s anti-retaliation provision must be resolved as a matter of factual analysis on a case-by-case basis. The court reasoned that an employee’s status as a “manager” is but one consideration and is not entirely binary, stating that the result may be different for a first-level manager overseeing day-to-day operations versus a high-level manager responsible for ensuring the company’s FLSA compliance. Here, because FLSA compliance was not part of plaintiff’s job responsibilities, a reasonable jury could find that her reports to her superiors were actionable complaints protected under the FLSA notwithstanding her position as a “manager” within the company.
EEOC Must Follow Pre-Suit Procedures For Pattern/Practice Claims.
By: Matthew J. Thomas
In EEOC v. CVS Pharmacy, Inc.,
No. 14-3653 (7th Cir. Dec. 17, 2015), the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission claimed that CVS had engaged in a pattern or practice of resistance to the full enjoyment of their employees’ Title VII rights by conditioning severance pay on an employee signing a separation agreement that waived all claims under Title VII and limited the employee’s ability to cooperate with the EEOC. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of defendant, holding that the EEOC had failed to engage in pre-suit conciliation procedures, and expressing skepticism that the EEOC could bring a “pattern or practice” claim without alleging that defendant had actually engaged in discriminatory employment practices. The Seventh Circuit affirmed, rejecting the EEOC’s argument that it need not comply with pre-suit procedures set forth in Section 706 of Title VII when bringing a “pattern or practice of resistance” claim under Section 707 of Title VII. The court held that the EEOC was required to engage in the same pre-suit conciliation procedures when bringing a “pattern or practice” claim under Section 707 as it was when bringing a discrimination claim under Section 706. The court further concluded that because the EEOC did not allege that defendant had actually engaged in discrimination or retaliation by offering the severance agreements to terminated employees, the EEOC failed to state a claim on which relief can be granted.