New opinions — a class-action reversal and an immigration win

Byrd v. Aaron’s Inc. — class action — reversal — Smith

In a significant class-action ruling, the Third Circuit today reversed a district court’s denial of class certification on ascertainability grounds. The panel noted (giant footnotes omitted):

there has been apparent confusion in the invocation and application of ascertainability in this Circuit. (Whether that is because, for example, the courts of appeals have discussed ascertainability in varying and distinct ways, or the ascertainability requirement is implicit rather than explicit in Rule 23, we need not say.)

Joining Smith were Rendell and Krause. Rendell concurred separately to argue:

[T]he time has come to do away with this newly created aspect of Rule 23 in the Third Circuit. Our heightened ascertainability requirement defies clarification. Additionally, it narrows the availability of class actions in a way that the drafters of Rule 23 could not have intended.

Arguing counsel were Frederick Longer of Levin Fishbein for the class plaintiffs and Kristine Brown of Alston & Byrd and Anthony Williott of Marshall Dennehey for the defendants. Thirteen firms are listed as counsel on appeal.

Chavez-Alvarez v. Attorney General — immigration — remand — Smith

Jose Chavez-Alvarez, the same fellow who last week won a major habeas victory granting him a pre-removal bond hearing, this week won again on the merits of his challenge to removal.  The court held that Chavez-Alvarez’s military conviction for sodomy was not a crime for which the term of imprisonment was at least one year, because he received a general sentence for multiple offenses.

Joining Smith were Jordan and Van Antwerpen. Arguing counsel were Craig Shagin of the Shagin Law Group for Chavez-Alvarez (that’s the same firm that represented him in last week’s win) and Kathryn DeAngelis for the government.

2 thoughts on “New opinions — a class-action reversal and an immigration win

  1. Peter Goldberger

    What is the last time the Court referred to a government argument on appeal — in defense of an agency’s (or lower court’s) decision in the government’s favor — as a “post-hoc rationalization” that is “far removed from the relevant proof” and that “scarcely passes the laugh test.” See Chavez-Alvarez, at 19. Ouch! Kind of brings to mind the Equal Access to Justice Act, 28 USC 2412(d)(1)(A). And while we’re playing quizzo — what’s the last time a litigant other than the government won two precedential decisions from the Circuit in a 7-day period. Big kudos to winning counsel Val Burch and Craig Shagin. Speaking of which, the bail hearing that the Court directed in last week’s decision be convened within ten days (that is, not even awaiting the mandate) was held yesterday in M.D.Pa. before Magistrate Judge Carlson, who ordered Chavez-Alvarez’s release on his recognizance, subject only to the oversight of a third-party custodian.

  2. Matthew Stiegler Post author


    I was pretty impressed by “The Government’s second argument requires mathematic gymnastics and rank speculation,” too.

    Don’t forget those two big precedential wins were from two different panels, both of them rather conservative. Impressive indeed.

    I’m just wondering if Burch and Shagin have another CA3 win for Mr. Chavez-Alvarez on tap for next week.

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