Academic journal article Defense Counsel Journal

Certification Doesn't Depend on Merit or Amount of Claims

Academic journal article Defense Counsel Journal

Certification Doesn't Depend on Merit or Amount of Claims

Article excerpt

In acting on a motion to certify a suit as a class action, courts should not consider whether the cause of action lacks merit or whether the potential monetary recovery is de minimus, the California Supreme Court ruled in Linder v. Thrifty Oil Co., 2 P.3d 27 (Cal. 2000).

The plaintiff, alleging violation of California's credit card statute by a service station retailer, sought to certify her state court complaint into a class action of two classes. The first, called the "surcharge class," would be composed of more than a million California residents who during a three-year period were stuck with paying four cents more per gallon of gasoline by using their credit cards than they would have paid using cash. The second, called the "penalty class," would be persons who were presented with credit card forms with a preprinted space for cardholders to fill in their telephone numbers.

The trial court denied certification, noting as to the "surcharge class" that a California statute authorizes retailers to offer discounts "for the purpose of inducing payment by cash" and that any potential individual recovery would be smallpossibly only 80 cents. The intermediate appellate court affirmed, adding as to the "penalty class" that the aggregate amount of potential penalties under the state's statute either would be too small to justify the burdens of class action treatment or too onerous in relation to the alleged wrongdoing. …

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