United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana
ORDER & REASONS
pending before this Court in this case is Plaintiffs'
Motion to Certify Class (R. Doc. 7). After considering the
parties' briefs and applicable law, the Court now issues
this order and reasons.
Jamie Payne (“Mrs. Payne”) and Lee Payne
(“Mr. Payne”), who are Louisiana Residents,
brought suit against BenchMaster for an alleged defect in a
“Nicholas” leather recliner manufactured by the
Defendant BenchMaster Furniture. (R. Doc. 1). Plaintiffs
allege that when the recliner is engaged, the backrest and
the seat create a “pinch point hazard.”
Plaintiffs allege that on February 8, 2014, Mrs. Payne
attempted to place the chair in the reclined position, at
which point her right hand became entrapped in the
“pinch point.” This allegedly caused an
amputation of a segment of her right middle finger.
set forth several theories of liability against BenchMaster
including negligence, products liability, and redhibition.
Plaintiffs bring class allegations on behalf of all
purchasers of the BenchMaster Nicholas chair throughout the
August 18, 2015, Plaintiffs amended their complaint to add
Golden Eagle Insurance Company, BenchMaster's insurer, as
well as several other theories of liability, including breach
of warranty. (R. Doc. 15). Additionally, Plaintiffs - despite
the fact they are Louisiana residents and have no named
California residents as class members-added a claim under
California's product defect law.
November 17, 2015, this Court granted in part and denied in
part Defendant BenchMaster's motion to dismiss
Plaintiffs' amended complaint. (R. Doc. 39).
BenchMaster's motion was granted as unopposed as to
Plaintiffs' claims arising under California law and those
claims were dismissed without prejudice. BenchMaster's
motion was denied as to the dismissal of Plaintiffs'
LAW & ANALYSIS
Standard of Review
proponents of the class bear the burden of demonstrating that
the case is appropriate for class treatment. Berger v.
Compaq Computer Corp., 257 F.3d 475, 479 n.4 (5th Cir.
2001). Class certification is soundly within the district
court's discretion, and this decision is essentially a
factual inquiry. Vizena v. Union Pac. R.R. Co., 360
F.3d 496, 502-03 (5th Cir. 2004). The class certification
decision generally should not reach the merits of the
plaintiffs' claims. Castano v. Am. Tobacco Co.,
84 F.3d 734, 744 (5th Cir. 1996). However, in some cases it
is necessary for a district court to go beyond the pleadings
to understand the claims, defenses, substantive law, and
relevant facts in order to make a meaningful certification
decision. Id. The district court must make specific
findings regarding how the case satisfies or fails to satisfy
the requirements of Rule 23 of the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure. Vizena, 360 F.3d at 503. Using these
standards as a guide, the Court will now analyze the
requirements for class certification.
seek certification of their claims as a class action under
Rule 23(b)(1) and/or 23(b)(3) of the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure. Rule 23 provides in relevant part:
Prerequisites. One or more members of a class may
sue or be sued as representative parties on behalf of all
members only if: (1) the class is so numerous that joinder of
all members is impracticable; (2) there are questions of law
or fact common to the class; (3) the claims or defenses of
the representative parties are typical of the claims or
defenses of the class; and (4) the representative parties
will fairly and adequately protect the interests of the
Types of Class Actions. A class action may be
maintained if ...