Just a decade ago, it was still an open question whether parties could challenge the admissibility of expert testimony in class certification proceedings. The United States Supreme Court recognized the issue in Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. Dukes, 564 U.S. 338 (2011), and suggested that experts should be scrutinized as usual, noting that “The District Court concluded that Daubert did not apply to expert testimony at the certification stage of class-action proceedings. We doubt that this is so . . .” Since then, multiple circuits have taken that hint and held that a court must conduct a full Rule 702 analysis before deciding whether to certify a class. The Fifth Circuit, in Prantil v. Arkema Incorporated, 986 F.3d 570 (5th Cir. 2021), became the fourth federal court of appeal to adopt this rule expressly. As the district court’s recent decision on remand in Prantil demonstrates, a full Rule 702 analysis can make the difference between certifying or rejecting a class.
The Tenth Circuit recently affirmed dismissal of a proposed class action against a dog food manufacturer, finding that the putative class claims were nonactionable puffery and overly subjective.
In Renfro, et al. v. Champion Petfoods USA, Inc., et al., No. 20-1274, pet owner plaintiffs brought a proposed class action against Champion Petfoods alleging that the packaging for some of its dog food brands were false and misleading. Specifically, plaintiffs asserted claims for violation of the Colorado Consumer Protection Act, breach of express and implied warranty, fraudulent misrepresentation, fraudulent concealment, unjust enrichment, and negligence.
The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia analyzed Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(b)(3)’s predominance and superiority requirements for class actions in a recent decision denying a motion to certify a purported class of motor vehicle purchasers. The decision underscores that plaintiffs seeking to certify classes asserting claims that will render the process of identifying class members to be a mere series of individualized inquiries will not pass muster under Rule 23.
The Facts in Dispute
Garcia, et al. v. Volkswagen Group of America, Inc., et al. involved a purported class of plaintiffs residing in multiple states who purchased vehicles manufactured by defendants within the last 14 years. The plaintiffs sued a group of auto manufacturers alleging damages resulting from defendants’ alleged fraudulent misrepresentations about the vehicles, and asserting claims for violations of the Federal Odometer Act, fraud, breach of contract, and unjust enrichment, in addition to state law claims under the laws of California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, New Jersey, and Washington.