Florida Supreme Court Reverses Third DCA Following In-Depth Discussion of Class Certification Standards
2 years ago
On July 7, 2011, the Florida Supreme Court reversed a decision by the Third District Court of Appeals reversing a trial court's class certification; in doing so, the Court also resolved a conflict created between the Third DCA and Fourth DCA concerning the proper standard of review on appeal. In Sosa v. Safeway Premium Fin. Co., 36 Fla. L. Weekly S373 (Fla. 2011), the Court held that because class certification involves factual findings, the correct standard of review is not a de novo analysis of the facts, but whether the trial court abused its discretion. Moreover, class certification should involve findings limited to the requirement for class certification and should not address the cause of action's merits.
The key determination by the Third DCA was that the plaintiffs had failed to sufficiently allege a key element of their claim and, therefore, the class could not be certified. Underpinning this conclusion was, according to the Florida Supreme Court, an improper conflation of class certification requirements with a question for the trier of fact. Class certification does not, under Florida law, involve an examination into the lawsuit's merits; rather, the trial court examines the four proof elements articulated by Fla.R.Civ.P. 1.220(a): numerosity, commonality, typicality, and adequacy. The trial court's decision is reviewed only for an abuse of discretion in certifying (or failing to certify) the class.
Sosa v. Safeway Premium Fin. Co. is helpful to practitioners and the lower courts because the Florida Supreme Court, after holding that the Third DCA had applied an incorrect standard, proceeded to review the trial court's class certification. The Sosa court's discussion is in-depth and assembles, in one place, the key principles needed to analyze the four class certification elements.
You can read a copy of the Court's Opinion here.
Categories: Litigation, Appellate Law & Practice
Tags: Class Certification, Florida Supreme Court, Jamie A. Cole, Edward G. Guedes, Michael S. Popok, Joseph H. Serota, Fort Lauderdale Business Litigation Attorneys, Fort Lauderdale Business Litigation Lawyers, Miami Commercial Litigation Attorney, Miami Commercial Litigation Lawyer, South Florida Commercial Litigation Attorney, South Florida Commercial Litigation Lawyer, South Florida Business Dispute Litigation Attorneys, South Florida Business Dispute Litigation Lawyers, Matthew H. Mandel, Fort Lauderdale Commercial Real Estate Attorneys, Miami Commercial Real Estate Attorneys, South Florida Commercial Real Estate Attorneys, Fort Lauderdale Appellate Law Attorneys, Miami Appellate Law Attorneys, South Florida Appellate Law Attorneys, Fort Lauderdale Litigators, Miami Litigators, South Florida Litigators, Florida Commercial Litigation Lawyer, Fort Lauderdale Civil Litigation Attorneys, Fort Lauderdale Commercial Litigation Attorneys, Fort Lauderdale Commercial Litigation Attorneys, Miami Commercial Litigation Attorney, Miami Litigation Attorney
Author(s): Eric P. Hockman