Articles Posted in Class Action

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According to the complaint, Dustin Limberg sought emergency department care and treatment at Sanford Medical Center Fargo. He did not have insurance and was asked to sign, and did sign, Sanford's "Statement of Financial Responsibility and Release of Information" form ("the contract"). After receiving his bill for the visit, Limberg filed a class action lawsuit seeking a declaratory judgment that Sanford's billing practices were unfair, unconscionable, or unreasonable because the contract contained an "open price" term. He claimed the term "all charges" as referenced in the Sanford contract was ambiguous and he and the class were liable to Sanford only for the reasonable value of the treatment and services provided to them. Sanford moved for dismissal, which the district court granted. Limberg appealed. On appeal, he argued the district court should not have dismissed the case. Because the district court appropriately dismissed the case, the Supreme Court affirmed the judgment. View "Limberg v. Sanford Medical Center Fargo" on Justia Law

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Darilyn Baker appealed a district court order denying her motion for class action certification. In 2007, Baker purchased a car from Autos, Inc., d.b.a. Global Auto. Baker financed the purchase of the car by trading in her old vehicle and by entering into a retail installment sales contract with Global Auto. The total included a "document administration fee" of $195 and a "loan fee" of $200. Baker agreed to repay the loan in thirty monthly payments of $247.08. The retail installment contract also provided that if the payment was late, Baker would be charged $25. Baker was late on making some of her required monthly payments, and the vehicle was repossessed. Before Baker defaulted on her loan, Global Auto assigned Baker's contract to RW Enterprises. After the vehicle was repossessed, Baker filed suit in state district court alleging Global Auto and RW Enterprises' sales and lending practices violated state usury law, among other claims. Baker also sued Robert Opperude and James Hendershot, the principal owners of Global Auto, and Randy Westby, the principal owner of RW Enterprises. In state district court, Baker filed a motion to have the suit certified as a class action for all putative purchasers who, subject to the applicable statute of limitations period, may have suffered an injury as a result of Global Auto and RW Enterprises' business practices. Baker alleged the "loan fee," the "document administration fee," and the late payment charge violated North Dakota usury law and the North Dakota Retail Installment Sales Act. After a hearing on the motion for class certification, the district court entered an order denying the motion. The court did not rule on the merits of the case. After review, the Supreme Court concluded the district court erred in applying the law to the thirteen sub-factors of the fair and efficient adjudication factor, it reversed the district court's order denying certification and remanded with instructions to reconsider the sub-factors in light of this holding. View "Baker v. Autos, Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff Bruce Roger Mills, individually and on behalf of those similarly situated, appealed a judgment that dismissed his claims against the City of Grand Forks to recover the amount of fines and fees collected in the past for noncriminal traffic violations by the City exceeding the amount the City could legally impose under state law. The City cross-appealed that judgment. In 2004, a Grand Forks police officer cited Plaintiff with careless driving. Under Grand Forks City Code, the maximum fine for violation of a noncriminal offense was $1,000 "in the discretion of the court." Plaintiff pled not guilty and proceeded to trial in municipal court. Plaintiff was found guilty. The municipal court imposed against Plaintiff "a fine in the amount of $151 with $0 suspended" and a hearing fee of $15. Plaintiff appealed to district court for a new trial; the court affirmed the conviction and the fine and fees totaling $166. Plaintiff appealed to the Supreme Court, but on December 1, 2004, the Court dismissed the appeal because the district court judgment was "not appealable under N.D.C.C. 39-06.1-03(5)." On August 16, 2010, Plaintiff brought a "Class Action Complaint for Restitution" in state district court seeking the amount of monies paid to Grand Forks exceeding the state law limits for fines for similar state offenses. Plaintiff asserted the excess fines, fees and charges were "involuntary and void." The City argued Plaintiff's claims were precluded by both res judicata and collateral estoppel based on the prior federal court action, and by res judicata because Mills failed to challenge the City's fine scheme in the 2004 state court proceedings. Because the district court correctly ruled Plaintiff's claims were thus barred by res judicata, the Supreme Court affirmed the judgment. View "Mills v. City of Grand Forks" on Justia Law