Wednesday, October 14, 2015

If They Wanted to Find the Facts, They Would Be Trial Judges

Tellez v. Rich Voss Trucking, No. H04375 (D6 Sept. 30, 2015)

The trial court granted Defendant’s motion to strike class allegations in a one-sentence tentative. It then refused to expound upon its reasoning during or after argument because Plaintiff didn’t follow a local rule requiring him to call the clerk and give a heads up regarding his intent to argue against the tentative. So class cert effectively got denied and the court of appeal doesn’t really know why.

Under the circumstances of this case, that merits a reversal and remand for a clearer explanation. Class cert is very fact-intensive and the trial court is endowed with significant discretion in deciding the issue. Except in situations—not present here—where the record provides a clear explanation of a summary ruling, the trial court needs to explain why class treatment isn’t merited. Since the court of appeal is disinclined to do that work in the first instance, this case gets sent back for a better explanation.


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