Ohio Supreme Court Reverses Certification of Class Containing Members Without Damages

group-309069_1280Last month, the Ohio State Court handed down a decision holding that courts cannot certify proposed class actions that include members who have not suffered any injuries. In Felix v. Ganley Chevrolet, Inc., the trial court granted class certification to a proposed class defined as including all consumers who purchased vehicles from a specific dealership subject to a contract including an arbitration provision that was unenforceable.

At the time the trial court granted the motion for class certification, there was no evidence that any of the class members, besides the representative, had an actual dispute with the defendant dealership or even suffered injuries as a result. Ultimately, the trial court awarded each class member $200 as damages.

In reversing the trial court’s grant of certification, the Ohio Supreme Court relied on a number of key principles. First, class actions are inherently exceptions to the requirement that each case involve a single dispute brought by or on behalf of the named parties. To satisfy the exception to this rule, a plaintiff seeking class certification must demonstrate that he or she has satisfied the requirements for class certification.

Second, plaintiffs seeking class certification of claims requesting remedies pursuant to the Ohio Consumer Sales Practices Act (OCSPA) must prove that the defendant’s conduct proximately caused the damages alleged. In other words, actual proof of the damages is a prerequisite to certification.

Finally, after a plaintiff has provided actual proof of his or her damages, the plaintiff must illustrate that they are able to prove by using common evidence that each of the members in the proposed class suffered similar injuries in fact as a result of the defendant’s conduct. The plaintiff is not required, however, to allege the exact amount of damages that the proposed class members have suffered in the aggregate.

Federal Rule of Procedure 23, which governs class actions, specifically requires a plaintiff to prove that the factual and legal questions common to the proposed class members predominate over unique and varied questions arising from individual class members’ claims. Accordingly, if a plaintiff is unable to demonstrate that each of the class members suffered damages, the plaintiff has not satisfied the element of predominance. According to the court, a key function of the predominance requirement is to test the cohesiveness of the proposed class and to ensure that each member’s claim can be adequately adjudicated by the court.

Ultimately, the Ohio Supreme Court held that every member of a proposed class action alleging violations of Ohio’s consumer protection statute must have suffered specific damages or injuries as a result of the defendant’s alleged wrongful conduct. After Felix, so-called “no-injury” consumer class actions will no longer be subject to certification in Ohio.

If you or someone you love has suffered injuries as the result of a defective device or dangerous drug, you may be entitled to compensation. At Moll Law Group, our lawyers have helped injured individuals nationwide seek the compensation they deserve. Representing clients in states such as California, Texas, and Florida, we can guide you through every step of the process and ensure that your rights are asserted along the way. Call us now at 312-462-1700 or contact us online to set up your appointment.

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