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NUCOR CORP. v. BROWN, NO. 14-154

Decided: July 25, 2014

The Fourth Circuit denied Nucor’s petition for interlocutory review of the district court’s refusal to decertify a class in a class action lawsuit as untimely.

The Fourth Circuit previously vacated and remanded the district court’s denial of the motion for class certification in this lawsuit claiming racial discrimination. In light of that order, the district court certified two classes, one involving disparate treatment and impact, and one involving a hostile work environment, in 2011. The district court denied Nucor’s motion to reconsider the certification order, but partially granted Nucor’s second motion for decertification in 2012. The hostile work environment class remained intact. Nucor then filed a third motion for decertification of the hostile work environment class in light of Comcast Corp. v. Behrend, 133 S.Ct. 1426 (2013), which the district court denied. Nucor filed an interlocutory appeal challenging the district court’s refusal to decertify the hostile work environment class.

The Court stated that Federal Rule of Civil Procedure (F.R.C.P.) 23(f) allows it to review decisions, which grant or deny class certification. The Court recognized “[a]n appeal from a certification order must be filed within fourteen days of the order.” Pashby v. Delia, 709 F.3d 307, 318 (4th Cir. 2013). The Court noted that the clock beings as soon as the original order is entered. The Court then joined the Third, Fifth, Seventh, and Eleventh Circuits by holding that “the time for appeal will not reset when a court rules on certification motions filed subsequent to the original ruling so long as the later rulings do not alter the original ruling.” See In re DC Water & Sewer Auth., 561 F.3d 494, 496 (D.C.Cir. 2009). Thus, the Court found that Nucor’s petition was untimely, and reasoned that the district court’s post-certification orders failed to alter the status of the hostile work environment class. Therefore, the district court’s orders were not orders that granted or denied certification as to that class, and the latest date that Nucor could have appealed the certification of that class passed over three years ago.

Full Opinion

Samantha R. Wilder