Court Grants Class Certification in ERISA Class Action: Shuman v. Microchip et al.

On February 24, 2020, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California certified a class of more than 200 former employees of defendant Microchip Technology Inc., who alleged that Microchip violated its fiduciary duties under ERISA by refusing to pay the severance it owed to class members whom Microchip fired without cause after completing its merger with their former employer, and further, by falsely asserting that the severance plan had “expired” six months earlier and by using those false assertions as a basis for inducing class members to release their ERISA benefits claims. 

The district court’s class certification order entitles the class members to join together in pursuing their claims for unpaid severance benefits, to enjoin Microchip’s wrongfully obtained releases, and to recover as an “equitable surcharge” the profits that Microchip earned on the roughly $6 million that it withheld from the class members.  Altshuler Berzon LLP is serving as class counsel along with the firms of McGuinn, Hillsman & Palefsky and the Law Offices of William B. Reilly.

Ninth Circuit Denies Petition for Rehearing in Wal-Mart Truck Driver $55 Million Minimum Wage Case

On February 20, 2020, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals denied Wal-Mart’s petition for rehearing or rehearing en banc in Ridgeway v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., rejecting Wal-Mart’s latest attempt to overturn a $55 million California minimum wage judgment that Altshuler Berzon LLP helped defend on appeal.  The Court’s order denying rehearing is here.  For more information about this case, see here.

Altshuler Berzon LLP Attorney Argues Climate Change Case in 9th Circuit

On February 5, 2020, Altshuler Berzon LLP partner Michael Rubin argued City of Oakland et al. v. BP LLC et al., No. 18-6663, before a Ninth Circuit three-judge panel.  The consolidated cases, brought by the City of Oakland and the City and County of San Francisco against five of the largest private investor-owned oil and gas companies in the world, allege that defendants’ 50-year campaign of deceit and deception about the impacts of fossil-fuel combustion on global warming makes those companies liable under California law for their roles in creating the resulting public nuisance.  The plaintiffs seek an order of equitable abatement that would require the companies to remediate the devastating impacts of climate change on local public infrastructure.

The district court had dismissed the consolidated cases on the merits, after having denied the cities’ motions to remand the cases to the state courts in which they were originally filed.  The district court also dismissed four of the five defendants on personal jurisdiction grounds.  As a result, the oral argument encompassed three issues: (1) whether the district court had subject matter jurisdiction, under federal common law or otherwise, over the removed cases; (2) whether the cities’ complaints stated a claim for relief under state public nuisance law or federal common law; and (3) whether the district court could exercise personal jurisdiction over the out-of-state defendants based on allegations that they “purposefully directed” their tortious conduct against California.

Altshuler Berzon LLP attorneys Michael Rubin, BJ Chisholm, Corrine Johnson, and Rebecca Lee have been co-counseling these cases and other climate-change cases pending in state and federal courts throughout the country, with city and county attorneys on behalf of their respective jurisdictions and with co-counsel from Sher Edling.