SW Legal studies in Business

Class Action Certification Standards Met in Case Involving Automobile Defect
Description

Appeals court in Oklahoma held that the standards for class action: numerosity; typicality; commonality; and common questions of law and fact, were met in a case involving a defective bumper claim against VW covering Jettas made over a several year period.

Topic Court Procedure
Key Words

Class Action; Certification; Design Defect; Warranty

C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts

Hess and Parsons both own a VW Jetta. They sued VW for breach of express and implied warranties regarding the design of the front bumper. They applied for class action certification composed of a nationwide class of owners of 1999-2003 Jettas. The trail court granted the motion for class certification for a nationwide class of all owners and lessees of Jettas sold by VW for the model years 1999-2003. An estimated 650,000 persons would be included in the class. The primary issue of the case was if a design defect exists, an issue common to all vehicles covered by the class. VW appealed.

Decision

Affirmed. The conditions needed for class action certification were met. The numerosity requirement is satisfied by the number of parties involved. While only 663 persons were alleged to have suffered actual damage, the number involved is still sufficiently large to qualify as a class. The typicality requirement is satisfied, as the kind of claim made about the damages suffered, and defenses that would be relevant, are typical to all members of the class. The commonality requirement is satisfied since the questions of law and fact are common to class members. The common questions of law and fact predominate, so the predominance requirement for certification is satisfied. The legal issues and facts involved are common across the country.

Citation

Hess v. Volkswagen of America, ---P.3d--- (2009 WL 3430203, Ct. Civ. App., Okla., 2009)

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