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Ohio Tort Reform Case: Class-Action Victory

The Ohio Supreme Court threw out a class-action lawsuit, State Farm v. Cullen, finding it didn't meet legal requirements for a class action. This victory ensures unwarranted lawsuits don't receive class-action status, which drives up costs for consumers. The Ohio Alliance for Civil Justice, of which PIAA is a member, joined the Ohio Hospital Association, Ohio State Medical Association and Ohio Osteopathic Association in filing an amicus brief in this case supporting State Farm’s position.

In the 5-2 ruling, the Supreme Court clarified the standards that apply when an appellate court reviews certification of a class action pursuant to the Ohio Rules of Civil Procedure. The majority opinion reversed the ruling of the Eighth District Court of Appeals and sent the case back to the trial court for reconsideration.

In the majority opinion, Justice Terrence O’Donnell stated, "…this action does not satisfy the requirements for class certification pursuant to Civ.R. 23(B)(2), because the declaratory relief sought is at best only incidental to an award of monetary damages, and the trial court abused its discretion in granting class certification pursuant to Civ.R. 23(B)(3), because a rigorous analysis of the evidence presented by the parties demonstrates that individual questions predominate over issues common to the class."

Joining in the majority opinion were Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor, Justice Sharon Kennedy and Judge Matthew McFarland of the Fourth District Court of Appeals, who sat in for the recused Justice Judith French. Justice Judith Lanzinger concurred in paragraph three of the opinion's syllabus and in the judgment.

Justice Bill O'Neill and Justice Paul Pfeifer dissented. In the dissenting opinion, Justice O’Neill expressed concern that the majority missed “… a perfect opportunity to breathe life into class-actions in Ohio.”

Also see: Windshield Repair Case Does Not Meet Requirements for Class Action
Posted 12:41 PM  View Comments

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