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Class Certification Reversed in BMW Run-While-Flat Tire Lawsuit

By Tanya Roth, Esq. on August 07, 2012 1:06 PM

The Third Circuit Court of Appeals recently vacated a district court's class certification in a lawsuit against auto-maker BMW.

The lawsuit was brought by Jeffrey Marcus, who leased a 2007 BMW 328ci from a New Jersey dealership. He suffered four flat tires during his three-year lease and alleged that the types of tires used (the Run-While-Flat Tires) were defective because they were highly susceptible to punctures. He also claimed that the tires were "exorbitantly priced."

The district court certified the class action lawsuit under Rule 23(b)(3) on behalf of all New Jersey purchasers and lessees of certain model-year BMW's that were equipped with the tire in question.

Here's why the Third Circuit Court of Appeals disagreed with the district court:

For starters, the claims did not satisfy the numerosity requirements. Remember, for class certification, the class must be "so numerous" that joinder of the parties would be impracticable. (See Rule 23(a)(1)).

The flaw in the case was evidentiary. While there was evidence establishing that a large number of customers bought or leased the BMW, there was insufficient evidence to establish that these customers purchased or leased a BMW in New Jersey and that the BMW was equipped with the specific tire.

The other major issue with the class certification was the lack of predominance. Under Rule 23(b)(3), "questions of law or fact common to class members [must] predominate over any questions affecting individual members."

The Third Circuit found that the common law claims (breach of warranty, fraud) required individualized inquiry into why any particular customer's tire went flat. As such, the court said that the claims didn't satisfy the predominance requirement.

The district court's opinion has been vacated and the case has been remanded for further proceedings.

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