Third Circuit Vacates Class Certification, Reaffirms Plaintiff’s Burden To Prove Readily Ascertainable Class

A recent decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit reaffirmed the importance of requiring a plaintiff in a class action to show there is a reliable and administratively feasible method for ascertaining who is in the proposed class. The Third Circuit vacated a district court’s grant of class certification in a class action against Wal-Mart.

In Hayes v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., plaintiff alleged that Wal-Mart, through its retail warehouse Sam’s Club, violated the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act, breached its contracts with consumers, and was unjustly enriched by selling extended warranty plans on "as-is" items, even though the warranty terms excluded "as-is" items. The district court certified a class of New Jersey purchasers who purchased an extended warranty to cover an "as-is" product. Excluded from the class were purchasers of "as-is" products still covered by a full manufacturer’s warranty—as those products would be covered by the extended warranty—and consumers who had been reimbursed for the cost of the extended warranty.

For more information on the decision, read our detailed analysis.