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January 19, 2018

Defense Lawyer: Subway ‘Footlong’ Lawsuit May Have Long-Term Impact

Legal experts say a Ninth Circuit ruling has raised the bar for multistate class action settlement approval, writes Law360

The Ninth Circuit vacated a U.S. District Court in Los Angeles’s 2015 approval of a $200 million settlement in a multistate class action against Hyundai and Kia. The Ninth Circuit panel said that the lower court’s reasoning that the settlement context relieved the court from determining whether California law applied to all plaintiffs in the nationwide action or if the law of each state should apply was a “legal error.” The court also noted that “because the district court made clear that it would be unlikely to certify the same class for litigation purposes,” it disarmed both class counsel and the court from using the threat of litigation to press for a better settlement offer. 

A professor from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law said this decision will have “significant impact on the certifiability of nationwide class actions based on state-law claims in which the state laws vary from state to state.”

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