The Court certified an issue class pursuant to Rule 23(c)(4), which was subsequently amended to conform to the plaintiffs’ requested relief so that the three certified issues apply to five separate state issue classes for Alabama, California, Florida, Georgia, and Texas. Ford filed a Motion for Reconsideration, which was denied.
“The Court found that resolving the certified issues would materially advance the litigation and potentially narrow the scope of subsequent trials, even if it would not fully resolve the question of Ford’s liability…. Individually litigating the certified issues is impractical, inefficient, and inferior, as the extensive expert costs and high risks of litigation outweigh any given Class member’s individual recovery.
“Defendant’s various superiority arguments premised on purportedly ‘disparate evidence’ likewise fail. Where, as here, the Court certifies common questions, class members’ interests in individually controlling separate actions are lessened because the issues to be certified do not in any way bear on individual circumstances. Ford’s musings on jury instructions and verdict forms likewise attempt to introduce complexity where none exists….
“Lastly, Ford argues the scope of subsequent trials will not be narrowed significantly. Ford maintains the Court’s certification of the state issue classes will result in duplicative proofs. The Court left open the questions of procedure that will guide the parties towards resolving the issues that remain after trial on the certified issues. Ford’s fear of the unknown does not amount to a constitutional concern. If Phase II occurs, there are a number of available tools to eliminate duplicative proof, including fact stipulations and the cross-admissibility of evidence (e.g., expert testimony) from the issues trial. The Court could even modify the Class based on the narrowing of issues. The Court will determine these appropriate measures once it is ripe to do so and leaving the procedures open does not mean the Court’s analysis was wrong, or that there aren’t valuable efficiencies to be gleaned by resolving key liability issues on a class basis.”
Weidman v. Ford Motor Company, No.18-12719, 2022 WL 2155051 (E.D.Mich. June 14, 2022).