Chicago Based Federal Appellate Court Remands to Reconsider Denial of Class Certification

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.

The plaintiffs proposed two classes: those who purchased a defective tile from IKO, but did not suffer damage as a result of the defective tile; and those who did suffer damages. In the first class, the damages would be the amount paid for the defective tile. For the second proposed class, the damages would be the total cost of repairing the damage caused by the defective tiles.

The appellate court suggested four buyer-specific remedial approaches to determining liability which could be applied to a class-wide resolution: 1) Whether IKO’s tiles generally conformed to the substantive aspects of the D225 specification. In this case, “generally” is an important qualification, because the court must take into consideration the fact that, in any mass production operation, defections or deviations are inevitable; 2) Whether IKO tested the tiles in accordance with the D228 procedure; 3) If IKO did not test in accordance with D228 procedure, whether it tested the tiles in a way that would verify compliance with the D228 procedure; 4) Whether any failure to satisfy the D225 standard caused the sort of problems which were reported by plaintiffs.

The appellate court did not require the district court to certify the class, but it did remand the case back to the district court to reconsider certification.Our Chicago class action lawyers near Homewood and Naperville bring class action, privacy law and individual consumer rights lawsuits. We bring suit for many types of class action lawsuits for consumer fraud issues and for unpaid overtime, junk fax, junk text messages, privacy rights violations, property damages due to pollution, false advertising and other claims. Super Lawyers has selected our Kane, DuPage and Cook County class action lawyers as among the top 5% in Illinois. Our Chicago class action attorneys only collect our fees if we win or settle your case. For a free consultation call us at our toll free number 630-333-0333 or contact us on the web by clicking here.

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