Sunday, November 8, 2009
Recent Ruling on Class Actions
The Cuyahoga County Court of Appeals has recently issued a ruling on what the law calls "class actions." In a case involving a Consumer Sales Practices Act lawsuit against a car dealership (Konarzewski v. Ganely, Inc., 2009 Ohio 5827), the Court of Appeals ruled that (i) the persons to be included in the class were ascertainable and (ii) the transactions at issue were similar enough (i.e. the claims were "typical" enough and had enough "commonality") to proceed as a class action. The defendant, in a further attempt to prevent the certification of the class. claimed that the class definition was not clear enough. However, the Court also rejected that argument and stated that the definition does not have to specifically identify every member by name - it just has to be clear enough to give a court an idea of how to identify who the potential members might be once the class is certified. The Court of Appeals has now sent the case back to the trial court with instructions to certify the class and work in refining the class definition. This ruling could have large implications for businesses that rely on a large volume of small transactions. If the custom of that business is to engage in a minor manipulation of the law each time it engages in those transactions, then a class action lawsuit by just one of the affected customers could result on a huge class action lawsuit against the business.