Preemptive strike against class certification leads to case dismissal

6th Circuit rules that classes can be deemed uncertifiable at the outset of a case

The 6th Circuit decision in Pilgrim v. Universal Health Card in November 2011 provides good precedent for challenging multistate plaintiffs’ class certification in a consumer protection case early in the proceeding. A motion to strike the class allegations could lead, as it did in Pilgrim, to early case dismissal.   

Claiming to represent a class of more than 30,000 consumers from 25 states, Daniel Pilgrim and Patrick Kirlin, residents of Pennsylvania and Mississippi, respectively, sued an Ohio company, Universal Health Card, and Georgia-based Coverdell Inc., a marketing services company, in Federal District Court in Akron, Ohio. The named plaintiffs alleged the companies had used deceptive advertising in creating and marketing a health care discount program. They claimed that health care providers listed in the discount network were not part of the program, and that newspaper advertisements, designed to look like news stories, were deceptive.  

Protecting Consumers

In rejecting the plaintiffs’ argument that Ohio law should apply to the entire class, the 6th Circuit cited a 1984 Ohio Supreme Court ruling saying “the State with the strongest interest in regulating such conduct is the State where the consumers—the residents protected by its consumer-protection laws—are harmed by it.”

Michael Kozubek

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