The Louisiana Fourth Circuit Court of Appeal recently articulated ten principles relating to a court’s decision on a Motion to Decertify a class:
1. A trial court’s decision denying a decertification motion is an interlocutory judgment that is immediately appealable.
2. A trial court’s decision denying a motion to decertify a class is one involving a valid exercise of discretion and therefore is reviewed under an abuse of discretion standard.
3. By statute, a trial court is authorized to modify or recall its certification decision at any time prior to a decision on the merits.
4. The law of the case doctrine does not prohibit an appellate court that has previously reviewed a class certification decision from reviewing the class certification on a subsequent appeal when the court is presented with new issues or questions as to whether the certification was proper.
5. In the absence of materially changed or clarified circumstances, or the occurrence of a condition on which the initial class ruling was expressly contingent, courts should not condone a series of re-arguments on the class issues by either the proponent or the opponent of class, in the guise of motions to reconsider the class ruling.
6. It is proper to grant a decertification motion when there has been a material change in the facts, law, or circumstances since the initial class ruling.
7. A change or clarification is material when it eliminates or substantially impairs any of the requisite elements for maintenance of a class action.
8. A significant factor in deciding a decertification motion is whether either the parties or the class would be unfairly prejudiced by a change in proceedings at that stage of the proceeding.
9. Decertification is a drastic step, not to be taken lightly.
10. Louisiana has a policy favoring class actions.
In this particular case, the defendant having failed to prove material change in facts or circumstances since the initial class certification ruling, “the potential prejudice to the class that would result from a change in procedure at this stage of the litigation — which arises out of a 2009 incident and has been pending for multiple years — buttresses our finding that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in denying the Joint Motion to decertify.”
Guidry v. Dow Chemical Co., 2016-0757 (La. App. 4th Cir. 3/1/2017), 2017 WL 809824.
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