Joe Alves filed a class-action complaint against BJ’s Wholesale Club, alleging that BJ’s uses computer code, called Session Replay Code (SRC), to secretly record consumer activity on BJ’s website. Alves claims that BJ’s conduct violates the Massachusetts Wiretap Statute, G.L. c. 272, § 99, and the Massachusetts Right of Privacy Statute, G.L. c. 214, § 1B. BJ’s moved to dismiss. Judge Krupp, sitting in the Massachusetts Business Litigation Session, denied the motion.
BJ’s sells groceries, electronics, furniture, and other products through its website. According to the complaint, BJ’s embeds SRC on its website. SRC operates in the background unbeknownst to the BJ’s website visitors. SRC tracks mouse movements, clicks, scrolls, zooms, and keystrokes. Third-party service providers, in turn, create video replays of the visitors’ behaviors and provide them to BJ’s for analysis. Alves alleges that when he visited BJ’s website to shop for tires, SRC captured his website activity, and that activity was shared with third-party service providers for BJ’s monetary gain.
In Jackie 888, Inc. v. Tokai Pharmaceuticals, Inc., Jackie 888 sued Tokai on behalf of itself and a putative class of individuals who had purchased Tokai stock, alleging Tokai made misleading statements in an IPO registration statement and prospectus. Jackie 888 moved for class certification.
In Galloway v. SimpliSafe, a putative class action of customer support representatives sued their employer, SimpliSafe, Inc., alleging various Massachusetts Wage Act violations, including failure to pay the plaintiffs “Sunday Premium Pay” as required by the “Sunday Pay Statute.” The defendant argued, among other things, that it was not subject to the “Sunday Pay Statute” because it was not a “store or shop.” The parties filed cross-motions for summary judgment. Judge Davis held that internet-based retail employers operating in Massachusetts must comply with the “Sunday Pay Statute.”
In Cabrera v. Auto Max, Carlos Cabrera moved to certify a class of Auto Max vehicle purchasers who did not receive disclosures informing them that their vehicles had suffered structural/frame damage. Auto Max’s alleged failure to provide those disclosures, Cabrera alleged, violated 940 Code Mass. Regs. §§ 3.05(1) and 3.16(2)—and, in turn, G. L. c. 93A.
Judge Kaplan denied the class-certification motion for two main reasons.
Judge Sanders certified a class of more than 18,000 Six Flags seasonal employees complaining that the amusement park failed to pay overtime.
The park pays its seasonal employees on an hourly basis, but not overtime. In support of this policy, Six Flags relied on G.L. c. 151, § 1A(20), which excuses amusement parks from paying overtime if they do not operate more than 150 calendar days a year. The plaintiffs countered that in recent years Six Flags recorded attendance at the park on 150 days or more—in addition to days when the park is open for private or special events. Judge Sanders granted the motion for class certification because the plaintiffs’ claim that Six Flags operated more than 150 days of the year was common to all members of the overtime class.
Judge Kaplan stayed a securities litigation filed in the BLS in favor of a securities litigation filed in federal court. The plaintiff in Lowinger v. Solid Biosciences Inc. filed his putative class action in the BLS. A day earlier, the plaintiff in Watkins v. Solid Biosciences Inc. filed his putative class action in the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts. Both cases alleged that the defendant, Solid Biosciences Inc. (SBI), had violated the Securities Act of 1933 when shares of SBI stock were sold to SBI investors.
In a case concerning alleged violations of the Massachusetts law governing the involuntary towing of motor vehicles, Judge Salinger concluded that the defendant’s “attempt to ‘pick off’ the named plaintiff did not moot [the plaintiff’s] individual claims or the class action.”
Ruling on an issue of first impression in Massachusetts, Judge Kaplan determined that he had authority under Mass. R. Civ. P. 12(f) to strike class allegations from a complaint. Judge Kaplan framed the issue this way: “[T]he practical issue raised by [the defendant’s] motion [to strike] is whether there are sufficient facts pled in the Complaint to permit the class claims to proceed and the plaintiff to take class discovery from [the defendant].” Noting the absence of any Massachusetts cases addressing the issue, Judge Kaplan turned to Federal law and followed the First Circuit’s decision in Manning v. Boston Medical Center Corp., 725 F.3d 34 (1st. Cir. 2013). “In reliance of the federal court decisions interpreting Rules 23 and 12(f),” Judge Kaplan wrote, “this court concludes that . . . a Massachusetts trial court can dismiss class allegations under Mass. R. Civ. P. 12(f).”
Judge Salinger addressed an issue that divides federal district courts: Do state courts have subject matter jurisdiction over covered class actions under the Securities Act of 1933? Judge Salinger answered, in Fortunato v. Akebia Therapeutics, Inc., et al., that state courts have concurrent jurisdiction over these claims.
Judge Leibensperger decertified a class of current and former employees of Federal Management Co., Inc. (Federal), who alleged that Federal failed to pay them overtime, after post-certification discovery revealed that the named plaintiffs were not adequate class representatives.
Two years ago, the court certified a class of “all current and former Property Managers” employed by Federal from January 1, 2005 to the present under Mass. R. Civ. P. 23. While these Property Managers were paid a salary and annual bonus, they were not paid for overtime hours worked because Federal designated a Property Manager “as a bona fide executive, or administrative or professional person earning more than eighty dollars per week” in accordance with G.L.C. 151, s. 1A. Thus, Federal argued that these employees were exempt from receiving overtime pay.