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Denial of Class Certification Reversed After Trial Court Restricted Access to Class Member Data

A trial court order denying class certification must be reversed if the trial court refused to allow discovery of class member identity and contact information. Lee v. Dynamex (2008) 166 Cal.App.4th 1325. Following the trend that began with Pioneer Electronics (USA), Inc. v. Superior Court (2007) 40 Cal.4th 360, the Courts of Appeal are leaving no doubt that denying information to class representatives and their counsel cannot be used as a means to defeat class certification. 

After first denying Lee’s motion to compel Dynamex to identify and provide contact information for potential putative class members, the trial court denied Lee’s motion for class certification. Because the trial court’s discovery ruling directly conflicts with the Supreme Court’s subsequent decision in Pioneer Electronics (USA), Inc. v. Superior Court (2007) 40 Cal.4th 360 (Pioneer), as well as our decisions in Belaire-West Landscape, Inc. v. Superior Court (2007) 149 Cal.App.4th 554 and Puerto v. Superior Court (2008) 158 Cal.App.4th 1242 (Puerto), and that ruling improperly interfered with Lee’s ability to establish the necessary elements for class certification, we reverse both orders and remand for further proceedings regarding class certification.

If you have discovery disputes pending in a putative class action, be sure to read Lee. You can download the full text of Lee at these links in PDF or MS Word format.

In light of this and the Alch case, which we discussed in today's first post, it would seem to us that delay (or hoping to capitalize upon an inexperienced class counsel's mistake) is the only benefit a defendant can hope to achieve by resisting plaintiffs' efforts to obtain putative class member contact information.

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