Can Class Action Representative Be the Lawyer ?

In Best Buy Stores, L.P. v. Superior Court (2006) 137 Cal.App.4th 772, the class action representative was also the lawyer who filed the complaint. He was precluded by conflict of interest rules from serving both as class representative and as counsel for the class. As a consequence he moved for an order compelling the defendant to serve a notice on potential class members informing them of the litigation and the need for a new class representative. (Id. at pp. 774-775, 779.) The appellate court held the trial court did not abuse its discretion when it granted a motion for precertification discovery to find a substitute class representative. (Id. at p. 779.) However, the same appellate court, in a subsequent case, noted: "Best Buy Stores was not a standing case and we specifically noted the precertification discovery order furthered the lawyer's interest as a plaintiff in the action. ... Best Buy Stores does not stand for the proposition that a plaintiff with no interest in the action has a right to discovery to find a substitute plaintiff to keep the action alive." (Cryoport Systems v. CNA Ins. Cos. (2007) 149 Cal.App.4th 627, 633-634 57 Cal. Rptr. 3d 358 (Cryoport Systems).)