Class Certification Inappropriate As Proof of Actual Damages for Each Customer Required Before Liability Could Be Established
In Hoang v. Trade Group, Inc., 151 Ohio App.3d 363, 2003 Ohio 301, 784 N.E.2d 151, the court of appeals reversed the trial court's finding that the predominance requisite of Civ.R. 23(B)(3) was satisfied where the defendant had been engaged in a "common course of conduct" that negatively impacted each plaintiff within the proposed class. Id. at P18, 28.
There, the plaintiff, a subscriber to the defendant's online investing service, brought a class action on behalf of all Ohio residents who had a trading account with the defendant for damages caused by service interruptions. Id. at P8.
The plaintiff alleged that she and the other customers were damaged by these interruptions because they were prevented from executing transactions and transactions were delayed. Id.
The trial court found a common class question predominated because each plaintiff within the class asserted the same claim: the defendant had engaged in a common course of conduct that negatively impacted its existing customers. Id. at P18.
The Eighth District, however, reversed the trial court's certification of a class on the grounds that the plaintiffs' claims required proof of actual damages for each customer before liability could be established. Id. at P28.
According to the court of appeals, the trial court inappropriately applied the requirements for finding commonality under Civ.R. 23(A) instead of the predominance requirement under Civ.R. 23(B). Id. at P19.
Although the court agreed that each plaintiff's claim arose out of a "common course of conduct," it also noted that the trial court should have recognized that each individual claim could not be settled in a single adjudication. Id. More specifically, "each of the plaintiff's claims required proof of actual injury caused by the alleged wrongdoing before liability could be established." Id.
Therefore, class certification was inappropriate.