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Eighth Circuit Class Action Litigation | Winter 2019/2020

Hale v. Emerson Elec. Co., 942 F.3d 401 (8th Cir. 2019)

Eighth Circuit determines that differences in state consumer-protection laws may preclude nationwide class certification.

This case involved a proposed nationwide putative class action alleging that Emerson Electric Company violated the Missouri Merchandising Practices Act (MMPA) by marketing its RIDGID brand vacuum cleaner as capable of achieving “peak horsepower,” which is only possible in a lab setting. The plaintiffs also brought claims for breach of express warranty, breach of implied warranty, unjust enrichment, and violations of other states’ consumer-protection laws.

After the district court certified a nationwide class under Rule 23(b)(3), the defendant filed an interlocutory appeal to the Eighth Circuit, challenging whether the claims of non-Missouri residents relate to “trade or commerce . . . in or from the state of Missouri,” and whether “the district court should have conducted separate choice of law analyses for the breach of warranty and unjust enrichment claims.”

Agreeing with the defendant, the Eighth Circuit held that the claims from non-Missouri plaintiffs did not involve commerce in or from the state of Missouri, that the MMPA would not cover those transactions, and that the laws of the states where the transactions occurred should govern. As a result, the Eighth Circuit concluded that class certification was inappropriate for the non-Missouri plaintiffs.

The Eighth Circuit also noted that a district court “must conduct an individualized choice-of-law analysis” to ensure that application of a given state’s law is neither arbitrary nor unfair, but that the district court here did not do so. Given those errors, the Eighth Circuit decertified the class and remanded back to the district court.

Please see news from other circuits here: Class Action Litigation Newsletter | Winter 2019/2020

©2020 Greenberg Traurig, LLP. All rights reserved. National Law Review, Volume X, Number 48

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About this Author

Robert Herrington, Greenberg Traurig Law Firm, Los Angeles, Cybersecurity Litigation Attorney
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Robert J. Herrington is an attorney in firm's Products Liability & Mass Torts Practice. He focuses his practice on defending consumer products companies in complex, multi-party litigation, including class actions, government enforcement litigation, product defect litigation and mass torts. Rob represents companies in a variety of industries, including apparel and footwear, retail, emerging technologies, consumer electronics, video game, telecommunications, advertising and publicity, online retailing, food and beverage, nutritional supplements, personal care products...

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Stephen L. Saxl Class Action Attorney Greenberg Traurig
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Stephen L. Saxl is the Co-Chair of the Class Action Litigation Group. He concentrates his practice on defending class actions and complex litigation matters in federal court and New York State courts. His class action experience includes cases in the securities, retail, telecommunications, publishing, insurance, Internet and tobacco industries. He has defended clients against statutory and common law claims including fraud, unfair trade practices, Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO), breach of contract and price-fixing.

Concentrations

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