The landmark decision not to certify a class of plaintiffs in Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. Dukes has made it increasingly difficult for classes of plaintiffs to achieve certification. This is largely a result of the fact that the court in Wal-Mart determined that the class failed to meet the commonality requirement necessary for class certification. Courts all across the nation have been refusing certification to classes of plaintiffs that don’t have identical claims. According to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, though, the reasoning behind refusal of class certification in Wal-Mart was much narrower than courts have been interpreting it.
IKO Roofing Shingle Products is currently facing a class action lawsuit from Debra Zanetti, which alleges that IKO’s organic asphalt roofing shingles were defective. According to the lawsuit, which Zanetti filed on behalf of all proposed class members, IKO’s shingles allegedly do not meet an industry standard known as ASTM D225. Compliance with this standard is commonly determined using a testing protocol known as ASTM D228. The lawsuit, which was initially filed in district court in Illinois, is seeking certification of a class of plaintiffs consisting of all consumers who purchased organic asphalt roofing tiles from IKO since 1979. The district court denied the class certification and the plaintiffs appealed the decision to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals.
The district court refused to certify the class on the basis of commonality. The district court determined that, per the prior decision made in Wal-Mart, it could not certify a class of plaintiffs without identical claims. The appellate court disagreed, though, pointing out that Wal-Mart failed to meet the commonality requirement for class certification based on the fact that the treatment of employees under different managers was too dissimilar. Since that is not the case here, the court concluded that the district court had erred in refusing class certification on the basis of commonality. Continue reading