Benesch Head of Litigation Prevails in Landmark Ohio Class Action Decision

Saturday, September 19, 2015 - 11:59

In a holding that will make multimillion-dollar settlements harder to extract from Ohio businesses at the class-certification stage, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled in Felix v. Ganley Chevrolet that class plaintiffs under the consumer-protection laws must found their cases on actual harm to all class members or the class cannot be certified. Joseph A. Castrodale, the vice chair of Benesch and its head of litigation, handled the appeal and argued it in the Ohio Supreme Court. 

In Felix, the Ohio Supreme Court reversed a class-certification order that indicated an intent to impose per-capita “artificial” damages against a car dealership based upon an alleged violation of the consumer protection laws, even though most of the putative class members had not been harmed in any way.

The Ohio Supreme Court on August 27 decertified a class of consumers in a state suit alleging that the auto dealer’s purchase agreements contained an unconscionable arbitration clause, ruling plaintiffs hadn’t shown that all the class members had been injured.

In a 6-1 decision, the Ohio Supreme Court vacated a trial court’s order certifying the class and remanded the case for proceedings consistent with the determination that actual damages must be shown in class action litigation based on the Ohio Consumer Sales Practices Act as to each and every member of the proposed class.