The District of New Jersey recently denied class certification in a putative class action alleging a product defect in BMW engines. Afzal v. BMW of North America, LLC concerned whether BMW defectively designed its car engine so that a component wears out too quickly and failed to disclose that defect to purchasers. Two Plaintiffs, both California residents who allegedly suffered premature rod bearing wear, filed a putative class action raising various causes of action including violations of several California consumer protection statutes, breach of warranty, and fraud. Plaintiffs sought certification of two classes: (1) the Dealership Class and (2) the Warranty Class. The “Dealership Class” was defined as: “All persons who after November 12, 2011, purchased a model year 2008 to 2013 BMW M3 (the “Class Vehicle”) in California from an authorized BMW dealership, and who resided in California at the time of that purchase, and who as of the date of the Court’s Certification Order, either 1. Currently owns a Class Vehicle with 120,000 miles or less; or 2. Currently or formerly owned a Class Vehicle and, when the Class Vehicle had 120,000 miles or less, incurred out-of-pocket costs to replace the connecting rod bearings in the Class Vehicle.”...
Tagged: Rule 23(a)
Third Circuit Sets Framework for Numerosity Inquiry and Lists Factors to Consider When Determining “Whether Joinder would be Impracticable” Under Rule 23(a)(1)
One of the prerequisites for class certification under Rule 23(a) is that “the class is so numerous that joinder of all members is impracticable,” which is commonly referred to as the “numerosity” requirement. Notably, Rule 23(a)(1) is “conspicuously devoid of any numerical minimum required for class certification.” For the first time, the Third Circuit has “provide[d] a framework for district courts to apply when conducting their numerosity analyses” in a recent precedential opinion. Defendants opposing class certification must be aware of this framework, particularly since numerosity is an often overlooked prerequisite yet may provide ample grounds for defeating certification in certain actions.
In Suit Alleging Misleading Employment Rates, Third Circuit Rejects Class Certification Premised Upon Invalid Damages Theory
The Third Circuit recently affirmed a decision from the District Court of New Jersey denying class certification in an action alleging that Widener University School of Law defrauded its students by publishing and marketing misleading statistics about graduates’ employment rates. In its precedential opinion adjudicating plaintiffs’ interlocutory appeal pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 23(f), the Third Circuit concluded that although the District Court misconstrued plaintiffs’ damages theory, the error was harmless because the Court would have nonetheless concluded that plaintiffs failed to satisfy the predominance requirement. This opinion, authored by Circuit Judge Chagares, is an example of defendants defeating class certification when plaintiffs cannot proffer a valid method of proving class-wide damages, as required by the U.S. Supreme Court in Comcast v. Behrend several years ago.
In 6803 Boulevard East, LLC v. DIRECTV, LLC, the District of New Jersey rejected the notion that “the juridical link doctrine” provided a limited exception to Article III standing requirements in a class action against several related defendants and granted DirecTech’s motion for summary judgment because the named plaintiffs were not injured by DirecTech’s actions.
In Hayes v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., the Third Circuit determined that the plaintiff consumer failed to satisfy Rule 23’s ascertainability and numerosity requirements for class actions as articulated in Marcus v. BMW of North America, LLC and remanded the matter to the District Cout so that the plaintiff could address the clarified requirements expressed in Marcus, which was not yet decided at the time of the District Court proceedings in Hayes. By doing so, the Third Circuit demonstrated that it intends to continue vigilantly enforcing Rule 23’s threshold requirements for plaintiffs.
In what has been dubbed, “the largest privacy class action suit ever,” the Seventh Circuit in Harris v. comScore, Inc., refused interlocutory review of the District Court’s order granting class certification. Although utterly silent as to the basis for denying review under Fed. R. Civ. P. 23(f), the Court of Appeal’s decision is likely to impact future privacy class actions as well as corporate culture as we know it.