Court Opinion: 10th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion for June 1

The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals

Editor’s Note: Law Week Colorado edits court opinion summaries for style and, when necessary, length.

Quint et al. v. Vail Resorts, Inc.

Randy Quint, John Linn and Mark Molina filed a class and collective action against Vail Resorts, Inc., in the District of Colorado alleging violations of federal and state labor laws. Different plaintiffs filed similar lawsuits against a Vail subsidiary, which are pending in federal and state courts in California. After Vail gave notice it agreed to a nationwide settlement with some of the other plaintiffs, the Colorado plaintiffs filed an emergency motion asking the district court to enjoin Vail from consummating the settlement. The district court denied their motion and the Colorado plaintiffs filed an appeal in the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals. 

The Colorado action alleged some of Vail’s nationwide employment practices violated the Fair Labor Standards Act and state law. The Colorado plaintiffs sought payment of unpaid wages, overtime and other benefits for themselves and other parties like them. Five other actions filed by different plaintiffs in California asserted similar claims against Vail subsidiaries. Vail notified the Colorado plaintiffs and the district court it had negotiated a nationwide settlement with other plaintiffs. The settling parties later demanded to end the California federal court actions and seek approval of the settlement in a California state-court action. 

The Colorado plaintiffs filed an emergency motion seeking an injunction under the All Writs Act “enjoin[ing] [Vail] from consummating a facially collusive ‘reverse auction’ settlement in a recently filed placeholder California state court action or any other court.” 

The district court denied the motion, holding the relief the Colorado plaintiffs sought was barred by the Anti-Injunction Act. The plaintiffs filed this interlocutory appeal of the denial of their injunction. At that time, the California state court had already granted preliminary approval of the settlement and held an initial final-approval hearing. The state court proceeded with a second final-approval hearing. The court considered but rejected the Colorado plaintiffs’ objection, granted final approval of the settlement and entered a final judgment in August 2022. The state court denied the Colorado plaintiffs’ motion to vacate the judgment, and their appeal of that order remains pending in the state appellate court. The Colorado action remains pending in the district court.

To determine whether the Colorado plaintiffs’ “claim remains for review, [the court] must ascertain what type of relief [they] seek, and whether [the court] can, at this juncture, afford them meaningful relief.” 

These plaintiffs asserted to the district court that “the appropriate remedy is to . . . enjoin Vail from consummating the settlement.” But they did not ask the district court to enjoin the California state court from taking action with regard to the settlement. According to Thournir v. Buchanan,an appeal should be dismissed as moot when events occur that prevent the appellate court from granting any effective relief.” More specifically, “where an act sought to be enjoined has occurred, an appeal of a district court order denying an injunction is moot.”

After the district court denied their requested relief, the Colorado plaintiffs did not move for an injunction pending appeal, nor did they seek an expedited review. In the interim, Vail moved forward with consummating the settlement by obtaining the California state court’s final approval. The relief the Colorado plaintiffs sought was no longer possible. The Colorado plaintiffs argued they could still be provided with relief by the district court enjoining the settlement post-final approval. They didn’t elaborate on this proposed remedy and did not ask the district court to enjoin the state court. They asked only that Vail be enjoined from consummating the settlement. 

The Colorado plaintiffs also asserted their relief could still be provided because the “settlement approval is on appeal and therefore is not final.” But they don’t explain how any outcome of their pending appeal would allow the 10th Circuit to grant said relief. Even if they were to prevail and the state appellate court reversed the trial court’s approval of the settlement, the possibility Vail would again seek to consummate the settlement in another court is too speculative to provide the court with jurisdiction in this appeal, the appeals court noted.

Finally, the Colorado plaintiffs asserted their interlocutory appeal of the district court’s denial of an injunction is not moot because their claims against Vail remain pending despite final approval of the settlement. Consequently, although the Colorado plaintiffs continue to pursue their claims against Vail, the appeals court said it can no longer effectively grant the specific relief they requested in their emergency motion for an injunction. If the district court was now directed to enjoin Vail from consummating the settlement, such relief “would have no effect in the real world.” 

The district court denied the Colorado plaintiff’s emergency motion seeking to enjoin Vail from consummating the settlement. The Colorado plaintiffs’ interlocutory appeal of this denial was dismissed as moot by the 10th Circuit.

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