Ohio's Sixth District Court of Appeals Emphasizes That a Trial Court Bears the Burden of Specifying How a Putative Should, or Should Not, be Certified
Erie Islands Resort & Marina (“Erie Island”) owned and sold cottages, campground sites, recreational facilities and marina births in Port Clinton, Ohio. Plaintiffs purchased an interest in Erie Island’s property in 1989 and over the years purchased upgrades and additional services from Erie Island. In 2010, the Plaintiffs filed a complaint against Erie Islands alleging fraud, breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty and violations of the Ohio Consumer Sales Practices Act and the Ohio Retail Installment Sales Act. Erie Island sold approximately 10,000 interests and 5,000 upgrades since 1989. Plaintiffs sought class certification, in six sub-classes, of all 10,000 people who had purchased interests from the Erie Island.
In a two-paragraph summary, the trial court certified the class and sub-classes. The trial court did not explain what facts supported each factor for class certification.
After reviewing the seven requirements for maintaining a class action, the 6th District Court of Appeals reversed the trial court’s decision. The appeals court held that a trial court abuses its discretion when it fails to articulate specific reasons why, or why not, a putative class satisfies each element of Civ. R. 23. Thus, not only do the parties bear a burden of proof to certify or oppose certification of a class, at least one Ohio appellate district also assigns a burden of proof to the trial court.
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