Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Two Recent District Court Certification Opinions: Lymburner v. United States Fin. Funds and Jaegel v. County of Alameda

In Lymburner v. United States Fin. Funds, 2010 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 5081 (N.D. Cal. Jan. 22, 2010), the Court certified a nationwide TILA, fraud and UCL class arising out of alleged inadequate disclosures contained defendant’s loan documents. The Court’s decision was relatively straight forward, finding that the class elements on each claim were met by virtue of the fact all material representations were contained on the face of defendant’s singular set of loan documents. See Lymburner, 2010 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 5081, at 11-12, 14-15, 18-23.

In Jaegel v. County of Alameda, 2010 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 5125 (N.D. Cal. Jan. 22, 2010), the plaintiffs sought certification of 2 separately defined classes arising out of a strip search policy maintained by defendant as part of its booking procedures at the Alameda County Jail. Plaintiffs maintained that these searches violate California Penal Code § 4030 and the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments of the Constitution.

With regard to plaintiffs’ proposed Section 4030 class, both plaintiffs’ arrests for felony charges deprived named plaintiffs’ standing under the statute, and thereon, rendered plaintiffs atypical of the proposed class:
In contrast to Plaintiffs' assertions, the Alameda County Sheriff's Department arrest records show that Plaintiffs were arrested for three crimes: Penal Code §§ 597(c), 597(b) and 597b. Sections 597(c) and 597b were charged as misdemeanors, but 597(b) was charged as a felony. Rockwell Decl., Exh. B, C; Luna Decl. P 2. Because § 4030(f) does not apply to detainees arrested for felony offenses, Plaintiffs' claims are not typical of those in the proposed classes. Therefore, the motion for class certification fails with respect to any claim of violation of California Penal Code § 4030(f).
See Jaegel, 2010 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 5125, at 11.

With regard to plaintiffs’ Section 1983 claim, plaintiffs’ asserted that defendant's blanket policy (which requires all persons who enter the Alameda County Jail undergo a strip search without regard to any individual factor bearing reasonable suspicion that the person poses a risk of possessing a weapon or contraband) was facially unconstitutional. See id., at 11-12. The Court reasoned that although post hoc determinations of reasonable suspicion would be required to determine class composition, this fact would not detract from the common issue of whether defendant’s blanket strip search policy was unconstitutional:
The class includes only those subjected to a strip search without any individualized reasonable suspicion that they were concealing contraband. Thus, those who were subjected to searches based on individualized reasonable suspicion are not included in the class. Although such post hoc determinations of reasonable suspicion weigh against certifying the class under Rule 23(b)(3), they do not compel the Court to find that this case must be tried on an individual basis. Post hoc determinations do not detract from the legal question of whether individuals were searched pursuant to an unconstitutional blanket strip search policy. See Bull v. City & County of San Francisco, C 03-1840, 2006 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 9120, *11 (N.D. Cal.). Moreover, even if some categories of individuals within the class could be permissibly strip searched, some of these determinations too could be resolved on a class-wide basis. See id. at 10.
See Jaegel, 2010 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 5125, at 13-14.

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