The Ninth Circuit Applies the Brakes to Runaway Nationwide Class Actions

In the recently published decision Mazza v. American Honda Motor Company, Inc., No. 09-55376 (9th Cir. 1-12-12), the Ninth Circuit reversed the certification of a nationwide class composed of consumers seeking relief under California’s consumer protection laws. In doing so, the court significantly decreased the viability of such nationwide classes, particularly when the plaintiff seeks to recover under any particular state’s consumer protection statutes.

In Mazza, the plaintiff sought to represent a class composed of certain purchasers of the Acura RL automobile. On the Acura RL, an available option was the Collision Mitigation Braking System (“CMBS”), costing roughly $4,000. According to Honda, the CMBS involved a three-step process whereby sensors in the car would trigger alarms and apply increasing brake pressure to alert drivers to possible accidents and, then, reduce injuries if the accident could not be avoided. Mazza, at pp. 190-191. Honda advertised the CMBS in brochures, television commercials (two commercials, each running for a week nationwide), and videos available to customers at Acura dealerships. Id. at 191-192.

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